If a doctor diagnosed your child as having a particular ‘illness’ and handed you a prescription for powerful medication to treat it, you wouldn’t be happy, of course. Then, you start to do a bit of research amongst other parents of your child’s school and find that nearly one in ten of the children in his/ her class have received the same diagnosis – now you’re resigned to your fate. Also, its tempting to go along as once you start to give the medication your child’s so much easier to deal with, so much ‘nicer’, less demanding of your time and energy.
Then, you see an article like this. Whilst that ‘one in ten’ may be normal where you live, in another country less than one in two hundred children is receiving the same diagnosis (and that same powerful medication).
This is controversial and understandably, if you read this article and scroll down to the comments you’ll see it’s got massive reaction with all sides of the arguments expressed.
My reading of the article, getting past the provocative headline is that ADHD might or might not exist as a diagnosable psychological condition. However, it is sure that something is going very wrong when the system is drawing simplistic conclusions based on a child’s behaviour to justify use of such powerful drugs on children. What the article describes in France is a much more delayed inclination to put the label on the child. Instead, there, before a diagnosis there is real effort to get to the roots of what’s going on in the child’s life to disturb them, to cause them to act out.
Have doctors become so squeamish about asking parents questions they might not like? Questions about sleep, home routines, the home atmosphere, diet, food and disciplines. No doubt some parents would find such questioning intrusive, especially if they’re not as effective in their personal and home disciplines as they wish. However, a child’s needs overrides a bit of parental awkwardness in my book.
In the US, the schools have pushed the agenda of ADHD because the factory model, focused on targets, data and results (common core curriculum etc) finds an energetic kid an inconvenience. My understanding of the French schools and education is that it’s much more accepting of children as children.
For those who read this post I wrote on the blog in January this year, you know I have a sceptical view of Big Pharma and their motives. It would be hard not to believe that they have played a part in this fiasco.
In India and UAE the frequency of diagnosis and medication of children is also rising. This shouldn’t matter just to the parents affected, but to all who care about children. For those of us in education, our motivation should always be to see medication as the very last resort. These are very powerful medications and I, for one, believe children are more important than peace, quiet and “discipline” in our school corridors!