- Mental Health
ADD and ADHD: Solutions to a Growing Epidemic
Attention deficit disorder appears to have just come out of the clear blue sky, gaining attention from all walks of life and classes of living. In the last few years, people seem to know or know of someone that has it or they have it themselves. What are the best solutions to this growing epidemic?
Is this a new disability that doctors have now put a name to or has this been around for a while already and we are just now noticing or is it behavioral issues at hand? Children have to sit in a classroom and are expected to learn for 6 hours a day. Sometimes I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Below is a list of historical examples of children that may have had some attention and hyperactivity issues.
1863 - Fidgety Phil A German nursery rhyme written by ? describes a child who is unable to sit still at the table.
1902 - moral defect George Still, a British physician wrote about 20 children who displayed noncompliance and aggression, and whose "moral defects", he believed, were due to underlying neurological problems.
1917-18 - post-encephalitic behavior disorder An encephalitis epidemic left surviving children with ADHD symptoms
1930's-40's - minimal brain damage and minimal brain dysfunction (MBD) The cognitive and behavioral problems of children with 'brain damage were described, along with similar characteristics in children who had not sustained brain damage.
1950's-60's - Hyperkinesis At this time the terms hyperkinesis and hyperactive were used to describe children with high activity levels.
1970's - Attention deficit disorder The birth of the term
1980's - Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity Increasing research into the disorder and the beginnings of serious efforts to treating the disorder
1990's- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - ADHD Further articulating symptoms, subtypes, comorbid factors, causes, and other features of the disorder.
So it may not be a new disorder. Mental health issues have also been tied with attention deficit disorder, and these types are disabilities are familial, meaning that they run in families. Often children with ADD/ADHD also suffer with chemical imbalances that are passed on from generation to generation.
But even if a child gets an assessment to be diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, what changes for them? Do the methods in which they learn change? Well in some cases, the answer may be yes but for the majority the answer is no. They may become privy to obtaining an Individual Education Plan, which is found in Ontario, Canada. This means that they will be taken out of the classroom, along with a couple of other troubled students, and they are taught in a smaller group. The teaching style has not changed. The grading has not changed. The only difference is that they are being passed on without the same amount of knowledge as their peers because of their lack of focus and memory abilities.
So is there a solution? Children with ADD and ADHD need more time to let the lessons sink in. Repetitive lessons are helpful along with lots of hands on learning that will help them gain knowledge through experiences. Their learning styles differ from their peers and they should not be expected to learn at the same pace in some areas while in other areas of study they prove to excel. Focusing on their strengths is also a great way for children with this diagnosis to continue growing and learning while not losing self-esteem and feeling a misfit.
The alternatives to treat children with attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be broken into two categories; natural vitamins and herbs, along with attention to diet and the alternate is synthetic drugs. Ritalin is the most popular amongst these, that involve adverse side effects and a change in personality and an indifference and uncaring attitude towards everything. The synthetic version has met with much controversy but only the parents of the child will be able to decide what is the best alternative for their child.
For a family or person that has not had to deal with these behaviours, they may feel that the treatments are harsh or unnecessary, but they have not had to deal with the behaviours and frustrations of parenting a child with ADD or ADHD. Only the parent knows for sure what the best choices are for themselves and their children, along with the advice of a specialist or family doctor that has extensive knowledge of ADD and ADHD.
As a parent or guardian, learn as much as you can. Be open minded about treatments and ways that you can help your child reach their full potential. Let your child explore, give them hands on activities that will keep their creative outlet open and help them to develop their sense of self and self-value, for that will be their hardest obstacle when they are a grown adult and have to cope on their own.