What do the following people have in common?
Leonardo da Vinci
Alexander Graham Bell
Hans Christian Anderson
Gen. George Patton
John F. Kennedy
David H. Murdock
Werner von Braun
Dwight D. Eisenhower
F. Scott Fitzgerald
George C. Scott
George Bernard Shaw
They have either been diagnosed with ADHD or based on their reported behavior, psychologists have surmised they may have had ADHD. And they are not alone. A new CDC study that’s been all over the news, found that more than 1 in 10 children in this country have been diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of 42% in just a decade! What is going on? My opinion is that our children are being forced to live in a world where their natural development does not match our current cultural expectations.
For instance, we force our children to stifle their natural inclination to move and ask them sit still for upwards of 7 1/2 hours per day. Meanwhile, the research instead shows that some children learn better when they move around. One reason is that a child’s proprioceptive system takes time to develop. This video does a great job of explaining it:
If we lived in a perfect world, our kids’ natural development would be taken into consideration and they would be allowed to fidget. They would also have shorter school days, attend schools that have a homey atmosphere, recess and lunch, and well-paid teachers. Radical? Nope, that’s how the Finns do it and they have the best education system in the world.
ADHD is just biodiversity at work
In my opinion, what sets Finland’s education system apart from the rest of the world is that they understand that children aren’t carbon copies of each other. We recognize that we have different size noses, skin color, and fat distribution but we don’t accept that we may learn differently. In a popular Youtube video posted below, Stephen Tonti at T.E.D., explains that ADHD is just a “difference in cognition, not a disorder”. The video is fascinating because it shows that we could be missing out on adding another name to the list given at the start of the post because we are so hung up on kids sitting still and doing rote work.
What about our kids?
Our kids are not diagnosed with ADHD as often as non-blacks and experts attribute this to a lack of access to primary care providers and other resources where they would be diagnosed. I call b.s. The low rate ADHD is one of those positive yet unintended consequences of racism. Black children are more likely to be considered criminally disruptive so instead of an ADHD diagnosis, our children are sent into the criminal justice system. The school-to-prison pipeline exists because black children who would be classified as ADHD are labeled as criminals. We see this in the “discipline gap” where black children are disciplined disproportionately more than non-blacks for similar infractions in school.
We can’t fix racism but we can stop labeling cognitive differences as disorders. We can also try to make sure our children eat a healthy diet. Anecdotal evidence points to sugar as the reason some kids find it hard to focus but research doesn’t support this assumption. Instead, it may be the preservatives that are in our foods. For this reason, the French take a holistic approach to treating ADHD and so they look at diet and home life when treating this “disorder”. I think we need to do the same in addition to giving our children the opportunity to learn the way their brains were meant to learn.
- 1 in 10 U.S. Children Now Has ADHD, CDC Says (health.usnews.com)
- CDC: Two Million More Kids Diagnosed With ADHD Since 2004 (wibw.com)