Today I came across a fascinating article about ADHD. This article by Marilyn Wedge, PhD. was published in Psychology Today in August 2012. It is entitled "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD." The title caught my attention but I was even more interested when I learned that French Psychologists are more likely to look for social and situational causes of ADHD while American Psychologists are more likely to look for biological causes. What this means is that American Therapists prescribe ADHD medication like Ritalin much more often.
I have had many students that struggle with ADHD. I have been impressed with the amount of time and effort their parents spend on helping them succeed. None of these parents have chosen medication for their children lightly. By and large, all of the parents of ADHD students in my class have been more involved and not less involved in their child's education. Working with these parents has been a privilege. I count as one of my greatest successes as a teacher helping several young men go off their ADHD medication in my class.
Perhaps that is why this paragraph caught my attention:
"In my own work as a family therapist for twenty three years, I find that searching out the underlying cause of a child’s distractibility, inattentiveness, fidgetiness, etc. in the child’s social context (family, school and friends) is a safer and more effective way to help the child get over his problems than by dosing him with amphetamine drugs like Ritalin. As French psychiatrists found before me, diagnosing the child with ADHD does not help at all if one’s goal is to solve the child’s problem rather than mask his symptoms with potentially harmful drugs. The cause for a child’s antsy, disruptive behavior in the classroom may well be due to a social context factor like having a teacher who “doesn’t know what to do with boys.”
As a teacher, I agree that we can be part of the problem. Each day I work hard to keep all of my students engaged in learning and try to accommodate all learning styles. But it isn't easy. And teachers need all the help they can get. If this is an issue that you are concerned about, I would encourage you to read the two part series here and here.