While there are certainly cases where true ADD/ADHD requires medical attention, like most medications I have observed, those for AD(H)D simply make it possible for a person to function over the long term without actually correcting the problem.
What if there was a non-medical solution that would enable people with AD(H)D to function normally? More and more people are discovering that solutions are available. Dr. Amnon Gimpel, MD, author of Brain Exercises to Cure ADHD, suggests that everyday activities can be turned into brain exercise therapy (BET) to increase dopamine levels and help treat ADHD. Companies like Maxi Mind are starting to spring up and seeing excellent results.
So if long term solutions are available, why are parents still popping pills into their kids? Because nobody wants to see their child suffer and most parents aren't aware that there are alternatives.
I've known more than a few teachers who were also very quick to label disruptive children in their class as potentially having ADHD. The fact is that in many cases, there are often less obvious reasons for such behaviour. For example, it can be very frustrating for a child to stay focused if they are more mature, less mature, under challenged, over challenged, introvert, extrovert, when their learning style is different that the one being used or when the class is moving at the speed of the lowest common denominator. A 2 minute conversationlisteningto a child could reveal that they can't see the blackboard or can't hear you speak. Sometime the solution is to unlearn what we believe so that we can re-learn.
In his book Working Effectively with Youth and With Youth with Disabilities, Michael Burdo covers a wide range of situations and office specific techniques for effectively interacting with youth with ADD/ADHD and autistic youth. I have attended several of workshops in the past. What surprised me the most upon applying his suggestions is that they are extremely effective when used with all youth regardless of whether they are affected by disabilities. It's not a big learning curve either. Once you become aware of them, they are really just common sense techniques. Every parent and teacher should know.
Could parent and teachers actually be the cause of AD(H)D symptioms in some cases? It takes a lot of courage on the part of parents, teachers and coaches to take responsibility, even though it is in the best interest of their child or student. In speaking with child psychologists, I learned that 80% or more of the time, a child's behaviour issue can be resolved quickly by simply working exclusively with the parents.
As a parent and leader in scouting, I have consistently noticed that most if not all children will often try to meet the expectations of their parents and their teacher when those expectations are clear. When you consistently label them as smart, beautiful, kind, responsible, helpful, generous, patient, funny, that is what they become. When you label them with a disability and describe the potential symptoms, it can quickly become an excuse to misbehave and not to rise to their full potential. When a child says "I hit her because I have ADHD", this seems like a very clear example of this programmed behaviour. Who told the child this?
Raise your expectations of a child and of yourself, increase your involvement in their life, develop and then teach them heartfelt understanding, decrease your tollerance for inappropriate behaviour and develop great communication skills with the child. Really listen to and hear what they say.
What would the world be like if every parent, upon seeing their child fall for the first time while learning to walk, simply gave them a pill and labeled them as being disabled?
Additional Articles by Michael Burdo from Scouting Life Magazine and Leaders Magazine
- Effectively Interacting with ADD/ADHD Youth Part 1, Part II, Part III
- Helping the Depressed Child and Adolescent
- Interacting with Youth with Selective Mutism
- Interacting with Youth with Tourette Syndrome
- Effectively Working with Youth with Asperger's Syndrome
- More Advice for Asperger's Syndrome Youth
- When Cancer Strikes
- Together… We Can Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young!
- Towards Independence and Self-Reliance
- Engaging Youth
- Coping with Challenging Behaviour & Strategies for Effectively Dealing with the Spoilt Child