found-itFound It!

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 Before accepting a diagnosis of ADHD, consider other possibilities such as the need for glasses (corrective lenses), as suggested by the Optometrists Network:

“…current research indicates that approximately 1 in 4 children has vision disorders that interfere with their ability to learn. The problems can exist and yet teachers and parents are not aware of them. The symptoms mimic attention deficit disorder…..

According to the American Optometric Association, over 60% of children who have difficulty with learning have undiagnosed vision problems which are not detectable by routine vision screenings.”


What are the evolutionary benefits of a constantly roving curiosity?

  • Location of food sources in the big, wide, world.
  • Discovery of quicker and easier ways of achieving goals.
  • Early identification of threats to survival.

In Praise of Misfits   …   Why business needs people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia

Entrepreneurs also display a striking number of mental oddities. Julie Login of Cass Business School surveyed a group of entrepreneurs and found that 35% of them said that they suffered from dyslexia, compared with 10% of the population as a whole and 1% of professional managers…. They gravitate to activities that require few formal qualifications and demand little reading or writing.

Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is another entrepreneur-friendly affliction: people who cannot focus on one thing for long can be disastrous employees but founts of new ideas. Some studies suggest that people with ADD are six times more likely than average to end up running their own businesses.


The Light Therapeutic   …in America only a third of high-school students get at least eight hours [sleep] on a week-night. But whereas tired adults are sluggish and lethargic, kids become hyperactive and distractible—which may be one reason that more than one in ten children in America are now diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the symptoms of which are remarkably similar to sleep deprivation. 

…an Italian study found that bipolar patients in east-facing hospital rooms stayed nearly four days fewer than those in west-facing ones. Even physical conditions respond to doses of daylight: people recuperating from spinal and cervical surgery in bright rooms took fewer painkillers every hour; in sunny Alberta in Canada female heart-attack patients treated in an intensive-care unit recovered faster if they were exposed to lots of natural light. Mortality in both sexes is consistently higher in dull rooms.

The portal about ADHD in Canada is the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada.  An outstanding site for resources related to this topic is Dyslexia Tutor Some recent discussion on this topic is posted on CBC Radio & Television, under titles such as:  Fixing My Brain.

My perspective on ADHD is that it has been a grossly misused diagnosis.  The natural world is the foundation of all learning, and yet our schools divorce our children from it, and then blame them for becoming bored and restless and suggest that the problem lies with them.

My recollection, from listening to the Ideas program on CBC Radio a few years ago, is that Kansas City had something like one in four children in the school system diagnosed with ADHD and using Ritalin.

By about 1970 Ritalin was known as a stimulant for those who did not require it, and was popular with abusers as a readily prescribed drug. Think about that:  giving a stimulant to someone who is bored and restless.  Would you be surprised to find that they had trouble in school and dropped out at an early age? 

 Some very interesting information about Ritalin is contained in the USDEA Background Paper for Methylphenidate:

“…A number of papers documented the abuse of Talwin NX and Ritalin combination that was so prevalent in Kansas City, Missouri and other cities in the U.S. and Canada.51 ….

Nationally, about 10% of 1994 high school seniors reported using amphetamines (designated as Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Methedrine, Ritalin, Preludin, Dexamyl and methamphetamine, specifically excluding non-prescription and over-the counter drugs) without a doctor’s order. Of those reporting using amphetamines nonmedically, 16.6% reported using Ritalin, up from 7.8% in 1993 and 3.5% in 1992.  For perspective, the report of Ritalin abuse by high school seniors indicates that more seniors in 1994 were using this drug nonmedically than those prescribed methylphenidate for ADHD….”

More insight about the ADHD diagnosis and the prescription of Ritalin is posted at the Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice:

“…As of today, up to an estimated 5 to 6 million American children receive ADHD-related drug treatment annually (Sinha, 2001). These figures indicate that from 1960 to the turn of the century there was a more than 100-fold increase in the annual rate of ADHD drug treatment among U.S. children…..Safer estimated that school records missed at least 20% of children who were medicated for ADHD, because they did not necessarily receive a dose of their medication in school (Safer & Krager, 1994). With the growing popularity of long-acting drug treatments, the number of children medicated exclusively at home has increased. It now appears that school records alone may underestimate ADHD drug treatment by as much as 50% by the late 1990s (LeFever, Villers, Morrow, & Vaughn, 2002) and by 75% by 2002 (LeFever 2002). Using this conservative method of assessing ADHD treatment among nearly 30,000 students in grades two through five, 8% to 10% of the students were treated with stimulants for ADHD….. Among elementary students, 17% of all students and 33% of white boys had been diagnosed with ADHD and the vast majority had been medicated for this condition at some time during the 1997-98 school year…..

…epidemiologic studies suggest that regional ADHD drug treatment rates among elementary students are as high as 17% in Virginia (high-use state), 7% to 10% in North Carolina (moderate-use state), and 3% in Utah (low-use state)….”

Kids who are being labeled as ADHD may require a higher level of physical activity than what schools generally accommodate.  Reading exercises may be improved by integrating the coloring of pictures, and the use of more graphical information generally instead of text.  Similarly, writing exercises may be more engaging where drawings are encouraged as well.

Pay attention to the Home School community to find good examples of how to best assist kids who do not fit in with, or comply with, the Big Box School Model.   

To gain a fuller understanding of the individuals you are working with, read about Personality Types (as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator).  An accessible and illuminating book on this subject is:  I’m not crazy, I’m just not you: the real meaning of the 16 personality types, by Roger R. Pearman, Sarah C. Albritton.  (Davies-Black Publishing, 1997,  ISBN 0891060960, 9780891060963.)  Also very helpful is Tom Keirsey’s book:  Please Understand Me.  This is available from his site, along with his very useful Temperament Sorter tool.  Well worth the price of admission. 

What is called ADHD may in fact be a manifestation of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder(FASD).  Those afflicted with FASD may require a variety of individualized accommodations for learning.  It is important to note that those with FASD may not present as having ADHD.

For information about so-called “Learning Styles”, go to the Institute for Learning Styles Research.  Note:  It is my view that so-called “Learning Styles” describe only the present level of skills developed with various learning modalities, and do NOT describe an immutable learning ability of any kind.