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I’m posting this as a reference to my blog post “Raising Your Kids Unlimited.” This is a coorespondence between myself and a close friend. This is the exact email, unproofread.
I would start with understanding the origins of public education in our country- see Alvin Tofler for more in depth discussion (you tube videos are out). Remember public education was developed to socialize the poor and train factory workers. Thus a certain type of learning environment was developed- focused on obedience to rules, bell schedules, rote memorization, teacher centered classrooms etc… Our classrooms have changed very little and do not resemble in anyway skills needed to survive in the real world. Think of our classrooms as small boxes where we force students to sit at a desk and focus all their attention on 1 adult (can you do that all day??). They are forced to read and memorize out dated curriculum, facts, and do paper and pencil homework. The world has evolved however- with computers and instant communication we are in need of creative problem solvers who can collaborate, utilize technology, and multi-task. Although our children (especially boys) are active, utilize technology, play video games etc… we still try to teach them as if we are training factory workers. There is much evidence that a child’s brain has evolved to adapt to the stimulation in today’s society (cell phones, face book, tv, computers, video games)- in fact it is an evolutionary process for our brains to adapt. The consequence has been more difficulty sustaining attention in a typical classroom- we are seeing across the board difficulties with sustained attention. A decrease in tolerance for normal developmental variation, a failure for our school systems to evolve, and a rise in the power of pharmaceuticals= drugged up kids.
Doctors have long since been aware of a subset of our population who are atypically impulsive and struggle with sustaining attention. These are the “extreme” active kids we can even remember in school. These students were prone to drug and alcohol abuse, accidents, and social difficulties. A diagnosis of ADHD was provided to help identify these children. Some even responded positively to stimulants. However, as pharmaceutical companies became more powerful and targeted psychiatrists and primary care doctors, more and more children were drugged up. We began to “pathologize” a whole generation of children (majority boys)- as if there was something wrong with them for being bored in school. It really got out of control. Uneducated and untrained teachers who lacked imagination and skill would tell parents their child “can’t pay attention”; behavior problems (due to many causes- bad parenting skills as one cause/developmentally normal limit testing as others) were identified as ADHD symptoms. Kids grieving (divorced families), anxious worriers, and Creative thinkers (think of bright and creative people- their minds are always going in different directions)- were designated ADHD-inattentive type or even depressed- and placed on drugs as first line intervention. Its a national tragedy! I could go on forever to discuss what I have witnessed from working in a children’s psychiatric hospital- to working in a schools- to private practice. Every private practice I have worked at- has pharmaceutical reps pushing their drugs.
Some research with depression (see New England Journal of Medicine)- has discovered that the drug companies suppressed research that counter-indicated their drug. Meta-analysis studies have shown that anti-depressants are no more effective than placebo (for majority of population)- but comes with severe side effects.
In short, our idea of “normal” has shrunk incredibly- and we are pathologizing normal developmental processes. We are not accepting of differences amongst people- and the result has been drugging a nation of children.
Now- I do believe there are “extreme” cases in which a child is at risk to doing great harm to himself or others- and because his or her functioning is so impaired medical interventions are necessary to improve that persons quality of life.
Albert Einstein would have been drugged up
Bill Gates would have been drugged up
I could go on!!!!!!!!
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Clinical Psychology
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