Recent statistics on ADHD raise more questions than answers.
Recently we were in a check out line behind a young mother and a bright eyed little boy about four years old. He saw all the gun and candy on display, as planned by marketers, and he called his mother's attention to the array of goodies. He was fascinated by a hanging pen, and the Credit Card machiine. He turned and hung on to the end of our cart and said "Hi!." We responded and his mom told him not to bother us. He did NOT bother us. He was a bright eyed, healthy, curious, friendly little boy. We told her to count her blessings for having such an obviously intelligent and healthy child.
Fact: mentally and healthy kids are curious and active.
Recenlty I saw on a TV show that 11% of children in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD---Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One out of five have been diagnosed with ADHD. and are being medicated. Sales of stimulants in 2007 were $4 Billion. In 2012 the cost was $9 Billion! What is going on?
We raised two sons, and have four grandsons. I taught for over 27 years. I have a good idea of how boys, little ones and big ones behave. Being active is NOT pathological. Being curious is NOT pathological. But now, the APA (American Psychological Association) is "enlarging" its definition of ADHD, which means more kids will be diagnosed and likely medicated.
No one knows the long term effects of these drugs. Many doctors are concerned that kids, especaily boys, are being over diagnosed and over medicated.
I am concerned that many parents, teachers, and doctors are too quick to judge a normal kid's curiousity and enthusiasm as being a problem, when in fact, the adult doesn't understand and is feeling inconvenienced by an active kid.
I love this story from our daughter in California. When her son was in first grade, the teacher told her that one day a little boy called out, for no reason an adult could understand, "Hit the deck!" And every six year old boy dove to the floor while the girls stayed in their desks, looking puzzled. Now, there is a gender difference!
Another time while we were on the phone, she raised her voice, "Tommy, stop that!" I asked what is he doing? "Oh, he's driving his sisters Barbie dolls across the floor like trucks." OK, he's a boy. And we had a chuckle.
Before resorting to meds, maybe teachers and parents need to let kids play outside, if they live in an area where they can. As an alternative, go for a walk or skating or sledding with your kids---if you are lucky enought to live where it snows. Take them swimming. Invite other kids into your home to play games, make popcorn, and just yak.
I'm not saying that there is no such thing as a youngster who could not benefit from some therapy and/or meds, but if nearly 20% of teen age boys have an ADHD diagnosis and need meds, what is going on in their homes or in our society? Other nations have not labeled so many kids as troubled---or is it trouble?
Adults need to inform themselves about kids and spend time with them, listen to them, encourage them, and be patient. Our older son had a little sign on his desk, "Be Patient, God isn't finished with me yet." Good Advice.
Physical activity and social activity will go a long way toward health. The benefits of physical and social activities last a life time. One of the best things a parent can do for a kid is let them have a dog! No parent, teacher, or professional listens as well or is a patient as a big dog!