ADHD is in epidemic proportions in our children. While this may sound like a panic statement it is not intended to incite panic.
It doesn’t even have to be a crisis, except that children with ADHD test the educational system at every turn. And the educational system is failing these children.
Our answer to this seems to be to blame the students, medicate them, and insist that they continue in the system that is not equipped to handle them.
Part of the problem, when it comes to students with ADHD, is that they learn differently than other students.
In an institutional school setting it is difficult to deal with one child who is ADHD or has trouble sitting quietly in a desk, cannot be still, and is easily distracted.
But suppose that there are two, three, or even four students who have ADHD? What is a teacher of 25 students supposed to do with the students who are disruptive by virtue of the fact that they are constant motion and noise?
This is the dilemma facing may schools today. Institutional school settings are based on a model of children from a different era.
Children today, even those without ADHD, seem to be wired differently from the students of one hundred years ago. From a very early age we bombard them with stimulation.
Before a baby can even turn over by themselves they have music, lights, and sound in their cribs, in the form of toys, mobiles, and stuffed animals that make noises or lullabies. By the time they are toddling, many of their toys make sound, light up, or move.
It is not long before we have educational programs for baby on the television. We are giving our children computer access at progressively earlier ages.
Everything moves fast, and is noisy. And this is all before we send them to school, during those years when the pathways in the brain are still being formed.We make them wired to think being alone and quiet is bad.
We push for them to learn such things as colors and numbers at early ages when maybe they should be learning other things. We force our children into a constant input state.
And then we send them to school. This is where the trouble begins. We expect them to sit quietly. We expect them to be satisfied with repetition.
We limit the amount of time that they spend physically expending energy because we do not allow them more than a couple of short recesses each day. All of the rest of the time we expect them to sit, still and quiet.
We are setting them up to fail, and when they do, the first thing that happens is that they are labeled as abnormal, and ADHD.
We say that they have no attention span. And we medicate them.
But what if this picture is wrong? What if they are not abnormal and hyperactive? What if that is the new normal?
In a school setting that has not changed in a hundred years, maybe it is not the children who are abnormal. Maybe the school needs to adapt to the new normal.
Maybe in an age where almost every adult has a smart phone that is constantly in their hands, and many cars have navigation systems, and televisions take up more than four feet of wall space, we need to consider that the educational system has not kept up with the changing world that we live in.
Today’s world is one of 24 hour news cycles, and multiple computers, laptops, and tablets in every household. Children and adults spend hours interacting with gaming consoles, where the worlds created are quite fantastic.
Please don’t misunderstand. The argument here is not that ADHD doesn’t exist, because it does exist. Nor is the argument that children who have ADHD shouldn’t be medicated.
In each family, and with each child, a decision must be made to do what is best for the child. The argument here is that maybe we should stop saying that the children who are wired for constant input from multiple sources are abnormal or different, and begin treating them like they are normal.
If we can change the way we teach them, and the expectations we have for their behavior, perhaps we can stop fighting the way ADHD children are, and begin working with what we have. Maybe they are not abnormal, but instead are the new normal.
– LINDA WARREN
Linda Warren is a writer, and homeschooling parent of one ADHD child. She is meeting her child’s ADHD teaching challenges with curricula from various sources, including online education.
(Click image to see more about this book)
HowToLearn.com thanks Linda for providing her thoughtful opinion on the topic of ADHD in children today.
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