Robert Winner


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1 in 10 US children has ADHD says the CDC

When I read this headline that 1 in 10 has ADHD in MSN Healthy Living on 11-25-13 I immediately thought of Ali Carr-Chellman and her talk : Gaming to re-engage boys in learning. If you are a boy you are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed as ADHD and even higher if you are poor or black.

Why would this be true? Do we really have that extreme of a problem? Has the education system contributed to this issue? If your child is diagnosed and takes the popular meds for ADHD ... Ritalin or Concerta .. are there consequences later in life like elimination of jobs or careers.

Granted there are always extreme issues that need meds ... but not all. Should we be looking for alternatives ... what are some alternatives?

Teachers ... parents ... adults previously diagnosed with ADHD chime in.

  • Nov 29 2013: It used to be called ADD, then it was called ADHD. When I was a child growing up it was called "an active child".

    ADD and ADHD are legitimate diagnosis for individuals. I have worked with students who are severely ADD and ADHD in my classes. They were easy to spot, difficult to teach, and yes, medicine worked miracles for those students. Those students were the exception, not the norm though.

    ADD and ADHD is extremely over-diagnosed by parents and yes, teachers. School has gone from an active and vital place to sit on your backside in the desk and learn. Brain research screams that the worst thing you can do for the brain is park it in a seat and reduce physical activity to zero. But, for some parents, if my kid is off, there must be something wrong. If my kid is below average, there must be something wrong. ADHD is easy to diagnose and prescribe pills for, issue resolved.

    Good research is coming out on the benefits of physical activity and limiting the effects of active children distracting in the class. And of course, there is good research available that shows that inactive kids cause more issues and are less attentive. Why? Because they don't do anything in class and they need to be active.

    No, I am not a fan of medication for students in general. There are many other good options out there. But, there are cases where a child truly does need medication. Those times should be limited to the times when a student truly needs help and we would take it far more seriously.
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      Nov 29 2013: Thanks ... that you care is evident in your response. I agree that meds are needed in SOME cases. The same old problem will always be with us .. the parents you need to talk to ...will not show up ... when they do it is to threaten on many levels. Seldom to work with you.

      Federal and state interference has changed much since we were young ... some good some not so good. Does your school put the ADHD students into special programs for behavioral treatment? Or do they just medicate and ignore?

      My teachers called me "fiddgity" and disruptive .... my dad whipped my butt and like magic I was cured. Perhaps some of "Doc" Winner's seat applicators could be used on those not medically in need of treatment.

      I can track a lot of this problem back to Dr. Spock child advice of the 40 and 50's. My dad was not much on change though he allowed that the quickest route to my brain was through my back side. He was not cruel of excessive ... he really wanted the best for me.

      How do you see Ali Carr-Chellman's talk? Interesting to get another teachers read on her thoughts.

      Appreciate your reply. Bob.
      • Nov 30 2013: Bob, I just watched the video and honestly, I went in to it with a fairly negative attitude based on past experience with videos like this. Thankfully, I was surprised to find exactly the opposite of what I expected.

        I find her information to be accurate and correct. These are things I said repeatedly when I taught elementary school and things I have seen as I have taught. The discrepancies between boys and girls is significant and accurate. The changes she suggests are good and positive and I find them to be quite refreshing.

        It is refreshing to hear a female voice stating that males are not being treated or educated in a way that meets their needs. That voice has been missing in education as it is a female dominated profession. Males have been saying these things for years and I think you would find that a school with a high number of male educators has less of an issue with some of these items she mentions.

        My one point of contention with her was the issue of video-gaming. I think there is a tendency to speak ill of video games just because of what they are. But I also think that there is more to video games that can be quite negative if not taken in moderation, like all other things. Plus, as I have spent most of my career in Health and Physical Education, I strongly advocate for turning the computer off and going outside or at least being active. That and the last "advocate" for online gaming I saw was pretty much a poor presenter.

        Overall, more research like this needs to come to the forefront of education and be listened to. We can have positive healthy cultures in schools where boys and girls are taught and respected for their similarities and differences. Thanks for recommending this video.
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          Nov 30 2013: Thanks for the reply ... glad you enjoyed it. I coach and find there are two separate groups those who want to be there and try their hardest and those who have parents who are living their lives vicariously through their kids and force them to sign up. Play their kids and your a hero and bench them and your a goat. LOL.

          Quick story: The Army was not getting the high scores they wanted in tank training. They developed a tank war game ... modeled after the actual controls .. etc .... the graphics were great ... They placed it in the enlisted bar on base and the students lined up to pay a quarter to play and fought for the highest score. The real life training scores went up to unexpected highs .... and selection of the honor grads became the hardest thing for the instructors as the whole class was in the running.

          The point here is games are here to stay ... educators MUST come down from the ivory towers and use the tools that are the most effective. When I went to school (with my stone slate and chisel) everything was rote memory ... now there is a theory or rule for everything ... gaming is the next logical step ...

          The problem I see, IMO, is that all controls are in the hands of the state and federal government ... politicians not educators. The educators hired by the feds to advise are lap dogs and there for the big bucks and save their soft job ... not the kids. Textbook writers and test developers are totally in charge of what and when will be taught ... and the big brass think that high states test is the thing.

          The last meeting I went to the teacher used unknown terms and expressed her issues with administration .... she may have been 25 and did not want to be there ... she is right she should not have been there ... she did not return the next year but was the teacher of the month twice in efforts to keep her.

          Teacher, principals, and superintendents have a slippery slope they are working from.

          Tanks again. Bob
      • Dec 1 2013: Bob, I agree with all that you have said here. I am not a big fan of video games mainly from what I have seen with kids who get addicted and sit in front of them for hours at a time day after day. Some students become addicted and spend hours and hours in front of the computer, not active, which leads to a myriad of health issues.

        That being said, I am also not opposed to video games. I enjoy playing a game now and then just simply because they are fun and a release. I think some of the online games now, which are generally free or inexpensive to play, are a great way for kids to connect and enjoy a group activity while building community. I don't feel that there is a direct correlation between video games and violent acts either. But, I do see that the video games that boys really enjoy are the type that most in the education world don't like and see as counter to what should be taught in schools. Because they are violent and full of cool things blowing up and lots of lights and a story line of sorts. I have heard, in past schools, the arguments against these games and how they are teaching boys the wrong things.

        What she said is right though. Video game companies have big budgets to spend on video games and school games just don't. In my master's class, one up and coming teacher did her thesis on what video games teach. She had the research to support it which was interesting. She talked about teaching history, team work, problem solving skills, etc. Things we want kids learning.

        The problem is as you said, those in charge don't see them as valuable at this point. Change will come but slowly.
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    Nov 27 2013: From my information ADHD is really over diagnosed in this country. This is because the tendency to define and simplify every thing, label it and than fix it. That is fine in some areas of life but the human mind is a rather complex mechanism and setting rigid standards for 'normal' can be dangerous. I am not trying to dismiss existence of ADHD but diagnosing it and than treating the children diagnosed could be in some cases just an easy way out in dealing with the complex facets of a personality; sure for a teacher in school will be easier to deal with drugged kids that behave up to the expectations. Same in families, medication is used instead of parenting.
    I read recently a very interesting book called 'Crazy like us' about the globalization of 'mental health' . The author makes an interesting point that prior to maladies being defined and symptoms described fewer people suffer from them (talking strictly about mental disorders). As soon as the disorder was identified and symptoms described more people will identify with it. The book gives the example of a girl that died in the streets of Hong Kong from anorexia; that was the very first case in Hong Kong and a tipping point; the media reported it based on what they found on google the western insides about eating disorders and a lot of educational/ prevention campaigns based on the western perspectives were initiated increasing awareness about how in the west girls starve themselves to maintain beautiful, slim looking bodies; the result was a spike in the number of cases diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. He also makes the case how some mental disorders have cultural influences and gives the example of female hysteria that was very much diagnosed in the 19 th century in Europe and today it's not recognized as a disease any longer.
  • Nov 30 2013: I agree with most, that ADHD is severely over diagnosed. Too many people look for quick solutions rather than taking the time to give the child the attention they need. In most cases, once the parents figure out who their children are, pointing them in the direction that gives them the most joy usually solves the problem.

    Sir Ken Robinson gave an account of a little girl diagnosed with ADHD, until the right psychologist turned on a radio and saw magic happened. This little girl that was diagnosed had an amazing love for music, and eventually went on to be a world famous choreographer. All because he took the time to pay attention to the child and their responses.

    Sir Ken Robinson's account in the following talk points out some of these issues.
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    Nov 30 2013: Do you think there is an unconcious collective meme that we have not recognized yet in our modern life in this era? We apparently have become more peaceful and distracted and our surface expectation of how a good little modern child should be has been magnified a little out of proportion. My niece was a nutty energy draining child but my sisters patient nature carried her through and now looking at her now is the complete opposite of what she was.
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    Dec 7 2013: sorry, we could not find it....
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    Dec 4 2013: when watching a program about ADHD two statements stood out the most:

    1)from the founders of the diagnosis... ADHD is a bogus symptom or syndrome
    2)parents who do have time or cannot handle their kids, their children are normally diagnosed with ADHD

    active children need to kept engaged in activities that allow interaction with other children. looking at the schooling system and how it has change is very important. most schools are geared towards academia rather than balance with technical and creative needs....

    on a global scale many undeveloped countries are "discovering children with ADHD"???? just to pump them full of drugs...
    it truly a sad state of affairs when technical jargon and bullshit leaves the parent helpless in trying to help their children...

    psychology and psychiatry needs to be re-evaluated with regards to what is true terminology (an actual symptom or syndrome) or just bogus terminology to get their name published in journals...
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      Dec 4 2013: Interesting .... what was the program ... I would like to watch that one.
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    Nov 29 2013: Apparently Finland is currently top of the international league in terms of education of children. I can't remember the article but I seem to recall they have no exams (hence a much-needed elimination of a crazy level of competitivity found elsewhere) and teachers are committed to find a way to make learning enjoyable for every pupil (then they are keen to learn and learn easily). Class sizes pretty small too.
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      Nov 30 2013: Joshua, Finland has always been high on the successful list in terms of education ... currently Singapore is on top of the heap world wide by quite a bit.

      Are you comparing the methods, lack of competition, and testing methods as the reason for a lack of ADHD? I pulled up a article on Medscape that says 8.5% of Finish teens have ADHD.

      France is leading the charge on the treatment of ADHD .. they believe in structure in the childs life and discipline when necessary .. that when these things are present the numbers go down to only the medically needy taking the behavioral issues out of the problem.

      Yes the Fins have reason to be proud of their system.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Nov 30 2013: I can't say I'm very well informed on the subject, but I was guessing ADHD in children is due to a combination of cultural factors in our current era - namely (1).Additives in food, (2).Computer/TV 'consumption' and the need to be constantly 'entertained' thus detracting from the ability to concentrate that might otherwise come from imaginative play with simple toys, (3).Inappropriate teaching methods driven by testing schemes and (4).A cultural blind-spot whereby sitting still and listening for a long time is considered a good way to learn
        • Dec 2 2013: I agree. Plus, two parents working, in day care since 3 months old, no effective mirroring of loving object around which to organize sense of id, likely day care after school, then home for homework (too much since school days are shortened rather than give a teacher a raise) then dinner then tv, games and to bed. When is the family time? Likely little or never and it may not exist because parents are also estranged. No playing out of doors for coordination, sun, social skills and neighborhood friends since every parent fears some madman will steal their kids bec the pedophile is over represented in the sensationalistic news of msm, or is more numerous because they seek to live thru an unresolved childhood, its incompleted tasks and these kids are already x2 as parents of pre-generations who also suffered lack of proper identity and social skills formation. Ppl adapt to education that is mind dulling as prep for working robotic jobs, then to robotic jobs, increasing work hours w/o increasing pay, increasing taxes w/o increasing benefits and increasing lies from politicians recruited from populations selected by capitalists to represent THEM, not people, decreasing rights to demand proper food, air, water controls, unaffordable health care except govt funds to keep corpses "alive" to collect govt funds and return them to capitalists who showed in '08 that they will hold the nation hostage w/ economy or govt shut down if they don't get their way. any other questions (haha)
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      Nov 30 2013: They have exams and grades but do not have large, universally administered, nationally normed tests.

      Here from the Washington Post is an interview with an expert on education in Finland talking about which aspects of Finnish education probably can, and which probably cannot be emulated by the US.
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        Nov 30 2013: Thank you for the link to an interesting article - which sets me straight on a couple of wobbly assumptions. I think american society and its inherent emphasis on competitivity is probably reflected in the education system: a few winners reaping status and rewards, and the many who feel they didn't (and can't ever) be a somebody who 'wins' in life. Hence the need to shift the pendulum towards equity - as mentioned in the article. Such a seed-change in national culture may take many generations; after all, the pull of America is the american dream to make it big, not necessarily to be a happy also-ran.
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          Dec 1 2013: I cannot remember whether you have lived in the US or how long ago. In urban public schools in the US the pursuit of equity of educational outcomes is, in my observation, the single highest goal.

          What makes this pursuit so frustrating for school administrators is that in the US, unlike Finland, the student population is not homogeneous at all but rather is extremely diverse. Many, many kids arrive at school already knowing how to read in first grade, while others have had little preschool academic exposure. We have large numbers of urban schools with a large proportion of high school students who are recent immigrants and whose families do not speak English or had little opportunity for education in their own countries of origin.

          Student bodies will always be heterogeneous because all people come with different experience but the range of experiences and needs affects the challenges in instruction. More range creates greater challenge.

          Much of the standardization of curriculum in the US about which you hear so much on TED is motivated precisely by the interest in promoting equity. Another example of equity-driven policy is the method of resource allocation in urban districts. In the large district where I did some of my secondary teaching, schools received funding from the district according to the perceived neediness of students. For example, a student who qualified for free or reduced price school lunch would drive much more revenue to the building for teacher expenses than a student from a middle class home. The underlying reasoning was that such students need smaller class sizes than students with more resources to support them at home if one hopes to achieve similar academic outcomes..

          These are some of the popular equity driven strategies. Schools are also penalized at the state level for lack of adequate progress in closing the "achievement gap" across demographic segments.
    • Nov 30 2013: The Fins also have consistent national standards for schools and teachers. Not state by state. I imagine that their schools are not run based on fear of litigation from parents. They have small school sizes, from what I read in the 300 students years K - 9. Students don't need to start until 7 years old. Teachers are required to know as much as they can about students in the first month of school. Schools do whatever it takes to make sure that students are up to grade level or keep up with the rest of the grade on the materials.

      Teachers also command the respect of the community. Very different system that in the United States.

      And, let's be honest, sitting in class quietly and not being a distraction while getting your work done is valued in the US system. Which means active children do not do well in that system.
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        Nov 30 2013: Where I have taught, sitting in class quietly is not what teachers are after. Teachers want to hear kids exchanging thoughts about the material.

        One thing I wonder is how much the homogeneity of the student body affects the ease with which they can teach their students in the classroom setting. A look at their demographics shows that only something like 5% of residents were not born in Finland. (Check wikipedia for demographic information) I read today in an interview with an expert from the Finnish educational establishment that their actual pedagogy was developed in the United States. It just seems to work better with their student body and support for teachers.
        • Nov 30 2013: Fritize, when I teach, my classes are not sitting down and quiet and interaction is highly encouraged. However, administrators in my experience want to see students quiet and working. That means the teacher is in control of the class. Or, that is the expected standard. I don't agree with that at all.

          I have learned some about the Finnish system, part of which being it took a long time to get right and they put a lot of emphasis on getting it right. I don't know enough about it to be a resident expert, just that they are doing something right. But likely, that the US could not do the same thing without radical change of thought. It does help that their population is pretty homogenous.

          It is tough to teach in a class and education area where failure can mean everything from an F to a C- to an A- based on background. At my current school, we have been discussing the idea of "asian fail" and its impacts on student stress.

          I would actually love to learn more about the Finnish system and how they actually run things in the classroom. That would interest me far more than just the general outcomes and overall impressions. I find, like most systems, that the reality in the classroom and the perception in the outside world are often different.
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        Nov 30 2013: Where I taught administrators would much prefer to see kids visibly engaged than quietly working. Maybe it was different where you taught.

        I taught in an ordinary urban district.
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        Nov 30 2013: The idea of "sitting still" and being a passive learner maybe dates back to the time when compliant cog-in-a-machine factory-line workers were needed to be trained up - not really that relevant in today's world. I didn't realise that "fear of litigation from parents" was an issue; in which case it is not surprising teachers practice "defensive teaching" with measurable outputs.
        • Nov 30 2013: I worked with one teacher who kept up to date on the litigation issue, especially in special education. At the time, there was a monthly update that was published just on lawsuits and court opinion in education and education law specifically special education. Of which, ADD and ADHD qualify.

          Sitting still may be a bit excessive but quiet and not disrupting other people was not that far out of line.

          Also, as a male teacher in a building, I was often told how kids that were very active, read boys, were probably ADHD and definitely disruptive. The good teachers harnessed that energy and did something with it. Others, well, some boys did not fair as well in certain classes. And yes, some principals just don't want to see the boys in the office. I have also heard comments that essentially said that certain boys need to act more quietly and passively, meaning act like girls, in the classes.

          I will reiterate that I have also seen kids who are definitely ADHD. Medication for them, once it was sorted out, did wonders. They went from extremely distracted to focused in their life. Do I agree with medication though? No, I have never been a big fan. And yes, I do believe that ADHD is a convenient diagnosis. Especially when I hear reports about districts with high average IQ's and high performing kids with high levels of ADHD diagnosis. Essentially, if my kid is not above average there must be something wrong.
  • Nov 29 2013: I agree that ADHD seems to be over diagnosed. My personal experience was as a parent. My son in kindergarten was diagnosed with ADHD by the school psychiatrist after being reported by his teacher. They wanted to put him on medication. I suggested a second opinion and both the teacher and school psychiatrist were outraged that I would suggest that and took it as a personal/professional insult. My pediatrician referred me to a child psychiatrist who tested my son and watched him in class (which I later found the school psychiatrist did not do, based his opinion on the teacher's report). The child psychiatrist said there was nothing wrong with my son, just bored by the class which was several levels below him. He just did what was asked and started doing other things. I moved him to a small private school.
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    Nov 27 2013: They diagnosed me as a kid with "learning disabilities" and prescribed Ritalin. This was all done through the school system. I have to admit it did make me focus better however the side effects out weighed the benefits.

    The schools use their implied/real authority to addict children to profitable psychiatric drugs, this appears to be done tacitly as there is good money in this . The reality is that the drugs are superfluous. Another reality is that attention span disorder is simply a manifestation of poor study skills and a poor understanding of grammar. A bit of logic would lead an investigator on this subject to say the solution is elementary i.e. consider when the kid first started having problems I would indicate that it correlates with the introduction of grammar.

    This is apt:

    BTW Tom Woods is awesome at showing people how to look. He is a PHD from Harvard.
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      Nov 27 2013: I listened to the part of the linked presentation that was about ADHD, and what the speaker explains is exactly on target. The only difference in my experience is that I have not been in situations in which the school referred the child for assessment for ADHD. In my experience with adolescents it has always been parents who want an explanation for why their child is under-performing relative to parental expectations.

      When a parent or school seeks the diagnosis, the teachers typically need to fill out forms for the assessment professional that describe the child's behavior at school. I have filled out such forms on psychologist's request for numerous thirteen and fourteen year olds, and I cannot remember a single one of those that I personally thought was suffering from ADHD.

      I have taught kids who I would say show clear signs of ADHD..I have not taught the early grades the speaker refers to. I am frankly shocked and alarmed that ADHD is being diagnosed for kindergartners.

      Knowing how to accommodate kids who need always or usually to be moving is not actually a hard part of teaching. As a simple example, large numbers of adolescent boys like to drum with pencils while seated. If they are invited to do their drumming on their own legs rather than on the desk, no one is disturbed by it.

      There is also no need, often, for a kid to sit in the typical position in which adults sit in chairs. Some kids work better on their knees in the chair. This is another thing that is so easy to recognize and allow.
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        Nov 27 2013: The whole thing is a created reality everyone is complicit (another case of how is the water?). The parents are seeking answers of which the school system naturally points the finger elsewhere. As the speaker points out since the implementation of no child left behind ADHD diagnosis has gone up 22%. He also mentions that this problem is greater in the U.S.

        I like your simple ideas of how to control students with simple things.

        I would say that people are oblivious to the physiological problems associated with study, E.G. your students drumming habit is a physiological symptom of a study problem.
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      Nov 27 2013: Pat, Great site .. I listened to the talk .... the key for me was the part about insurance. If the school psychologist does not make a diagnosis then the only alternative is to return the kid to class. If they make a diagnosis of ADHD then they can get paid for the treatment of both the behavior modification and the meds. So ... as usual it is not about kids ... it is all about money.

      The second element is that schools (teachers, principals, superintendents) are all tied to the high stakes testing. If a kids goes into the "special" programs they are exempt from the testing results and brings the average class and school grade up. So any kids that poses a threat to the successful testing is a candidate for special programs.

      IMO the government interference is a direct result of the high numbers we are seeing in this diagnosis. Teachers are under strict guides of what and when to present to cover all of the test items ... teach the test ... Johnny fidgeting in his chair disrupts that schedule .... report him and save your career ?????

      The last area is you cannot get government jobs if your are taking Ritalin and must be assessed if you ever took it. So do you lie or man up. Tough price for a kid to pay so that the school can get special programs funds.

      Thanks for the reply .... Bob.
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        Nov 28 2013: Kids with ADHD don't go into special programs anywhere I have taught.
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          Nov 28 2013: Here they are put in special education program .. they have a IEPT specific to their needs. We have a few even in our small district.

          Our State Superintendent is a lawyer ... career politician ... with eyes on the governors office named Tom Horn .... he has set us back into the stone ages.

          Interesting that some would and some would not separate .... I wonder if that is a decision of the school psychologist? I am related through marriage to the district professional here ... I shall pose the question? Get back to you soon.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Nov 28 2013: Here we have something called a 504 that does specify any special accommodations a student needs in the regular classroom, but a student whose only learning challenge is ADHD would be right in with the other kids.

        Kids with ADHD are much more similar to the regular classroom kids than to the kids that qualify here for special services.

        Do ask your relative why they separate.
  • Nov 27 2013: These numbers are crazy.
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    Nov 27 2013: I think to some degree we all have some ADHD issues. It only becomes a problem once it inhibits a person from functioning normally in society.
    Perhaps kids exhibit ADHD symptoms because they are just bored. If I have to listen hours in a row to some boring lecture I also would turn off mentally or start squirming in my seat.
    So, perhaps engaging kids more actively and making school more attractive could remove a lot of those ADHD diagnosis.
    I would treatment with medicines consider the last resort if the problem is really grave and no other remedies help.
    My personal opinion is that this whole ADHD issue is overrated.
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      Nov 27 2013: My personal opinion is that this whole ADHD issue is overrated. Agreed.

      Did you happen to see the Ali Carr-Chellman talk? She makes some valid points which I think could help.

      The site Mary referenced is a great study piece of the difference in approach between France and The United States.

      There are certain disorders and medications that limits jobs and careers. Prior to taking these meds I would hope the parents understand the consequences and get at least a second opinion or attempt a alternative prior to this ..... last resort.

      Thanks for the reply ..... Bob.
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        Nov 27 2013: Hi Bob, no I didn't see the talk. It's here on TED ?
        As to medication, I always would treat them as a last resort. Our society, and some countries more than others rely too much on medication without even trying to understand the underlying root cause of an ailment.
        Apparently it's just easier to simply pop a pill. This is our society of instant gratification ;-)
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    Nov 26 2013: School can involve an unhealthy, unnatural amount of sitting. I cannot sit without interruption as long as many kids are expected to sit. Less sitting and more carefully seating of those with attention challenges are productive.

    I have seen many kids diagnosed with ADD who I would more have said were less well-organized than their peers or preoccupied with some things to the exclusion of others. We tend to pay less attention to things we don't care much about.
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      Nov 26 2013: Thanks Fritzie, As a experienced teacher how do you view Ali Carr Chellman's talk?

      You make a good point that the teacher has to be involved and attempt different solutions that are available. I feel it is appropriate to defend the teacher at this point as the new push to condensed curriculums do not allow the teacher the opportunities that were available in the past. The new texts come with a plan for presentation and a time line. Teachers are forced to meet time lines to cover the items that will appear on the high stakes tests .... having said that it means teach the test.

      Distractions or any form of interference in meeting that schedule is met by the teachers and the administration as a problem because they are being rated on the ability to stay on target and have good test results ... so the student who has any issue is "a problem" ... problems usually are labeled.

      Another good point ... attention spans. We now have A and B days which allow for hour and a half classes. Great in classes that require set up and tear down time and lousy for almost everything else.
      You get language, math, science, etc ... classes that require lots of attention to detail and immediate feedback suffer.

      In my short teaching career, I found I could separate ... move from back to front ... have eyes tested .. hearing checks .... quick breaks and instant reviews resolved almost all of the problems. I mentioned to one father that his son was disruptive ... he was spanked ... no more disruptions occurred. Not that all kids should be spanked ... in this case it was effective. Parental involvement is a big help ... sometimes.

      Always a pleasure ..... Bob.
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        Nov 26 2013: I will find the talk and listen to it. Oh, I have heard that one.

        I have never taught in a setting as tightly programmed as you describe. I have not, and would not, teach off a script.

        I think there are an array of ways teachers can engage students.The lesson needs to be interesting, useful, and offer the right level of challenge for the kids at hand. The class needs to be interactive. The teacher typically needs a lot of personal energy if the kids are energetic, which they usually are at least until high school.

        Some kids have difficulty paying attention, not because of a physical problem but because of issues they bring into the classroom from their outside lives. Some kids need more attention than they get outside of school. Some are distracted by social and family issues. Some are anxious at school because of safety issues in school or outside. Some do not have the educational foundations for the class in which they are placed and therefore cannot keep up.

        Figuring out who needs what is a big part of what being a professional teacher is about.

        I have been in situations in which a student was not getting as good grades as the parent expected, so the family interpreted it as a medical problem. In fact, in a reasonably challenging classroom, half the kids will not perform in the top half of the class, even if everyone is quite well.

        I don't know how often an ADD diagnosis has this history.
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      Nov 26 2013: Linda, Great article. Confirms one of my pet theories that many of the problems we are experiencing in the USA are traceable back to the Dr. Spock child raising era.

      My observation is that when the homes and schools stopped any forms of punishment kids lost the structure that I feel was needed. Our school "thou shall not" book is about 100 pages with only two consequences 1) Don't do it again and 2) your out of here either short term or long term. They didn't want to be there anyway so they get what they want.

      We in the USA have legislated the parents out of the picture ... school boards only echo what the state tells them and the state is dictated to by the feds. What a mess. We really have to get the government out of the states business and the state out of the local affairs.

      Along with this reply I ask you to look at Fritize's reply and my response for additional arguments.

      I always enjoy talking to you ... thanks .... Bob.