Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Deficits of another kind

If you tune in to the right sources and listen very, very carefully, you might just hear the faint whisper which suggests that many children who have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) might actually be suffering attention deficit disorder of a parental kind.
Around the traps, thoughtful psychologists, school teachers, church leaders and single parents are starting to recognize that children who lack the significant individual attention of one or both parents, are the same children being prescribed Ritalin.

Of course, the pharmaceutical companies that suck millions from families each year are unlikely to spread the word, but slowly, ever so slowly, it’s getting out there. And there are no more outspoken proponents of this new-age view than the parents raising children who have been diagnosed with the developmental disorder.

Emily Cairns, Army wife and mother of two young boys, says her children’s behavior changes dramatically on about day 4 of a deployment when her little boys realizes Daddy is not coming home yet. “They cope fine when it’s just a day or two, but more than that and it gets really tough. The last time my husband was deployed, I ended up taking the kids to a doctor because they just weren’t themselves. It was the doctor who suggested it might be a separation anxiety issue rather than ADHD as I had first suspected.”

The online journal, ScienceDaily, recently reported that 1 million children in the United States may have been misdiagnosed with ADHD, simply for being the youngest kid in the class.

And yet the hype remains.

Trawl the mummy forums and you’ll find many women feeling helpless about their 2 year old son who simply won’t sit still. Not even for 5 minutes. What could possibly be wrong with my child, they ask, thoroughly exasperated and entirely convinced that if they took their child to the doctor, the kid would be prescribed Ritalin.

At a time when many children are abandoned to mass care at one point or another during the first 4 years of life, it may be useful to look at separation anxiety, sleep disturbance, dysfunctional environments and bullying as a cause for a child’s behavioural issues, before medicating them.

After all, they’re only young. And we put a lot of pressure on children to conform.

© Eva Whiteley 2010

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