I came across an fascinating post on a Psychology Today blog about what is commonly referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The author is one Paul Gray, the post is headed, ADHD and School: The Problem of Assessing Normalcy in an Abnormal Environment.
Some of the statistical information he presents I think you will find interesting.
According to the most authoritative recent data, approximately 8% of children in the United States, aged 4 to 17, have been diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The same reports note that the disorder is about three times as frequent in boys as it is in girls, so this means that roughly 12% of boys and 4% of girls have received the diagnosis. Think of it. Twelve percent of boys–that’s approximately one boy out of every eight–has been determined by some clinical authority, using official diagnostic criteria set out by the American Psychiatric Association, to have this particular mental disorder!
Thank God teachers aren’t psychiatrists because if they were the matter would be even worse.
If only teachers’ ratings were used, the numbers would be even greater. In one study involving 16 different schools and more than three thousand children, teachers filled out the standard ADHD diagnostic checklist of behaviors for the students in their classrooms. In that study, where teachers’ ratings were not averaged in with the ratings made by parents, 23% of elementary school boys and 20% of secondary school boys were diagnosed as having ADHD. What an amazing finding. By teachers’ ratings, nearly one fourth of all elementary school boys and one fifth of all secondary school boys have the mental disorder, ADHD!
1 in 4 male students on Ritalin class chemicals could present a real problem if they had their way. The stimulants used in the treatment of ADHD are known to slow growth in children and adolescents, and that can’t be a good thing. What’s more, these drugs are speed. A certain number of people maintained on these drugs are going to go psychotic or manic. Mania is what happens to a certain percentage of the people who take stimulants or antidepressants. Psychiatrists then are less likely to identify the problem with the drug, and lower its dosage, than they are to identify the problem with another illness label, for which they will be adding at least one more also harmful drug.
Dr. Gray sees the ADHD diagnosis as ‘fundamentally a school adjustment problem’ as one of the subheadings to his post reads. He claims that such diagnoses derive from an intolerance for the normal diversity seen in schools.
Yep, that sounds about right.