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Dr. Richard Saul: ADHD Does Not Exist

In his just-released book, ADHD Does Not Exist, Dr. Saul makes the case that underlying issues cause behaviors diagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “What if there are other things causing people to feel distracted?” Dr. Saul suggests we “…offer more thorough diagnostic work…” (Time, 3/14/14) In 2011, one in nine children was diagnosed with ADHD. (Kyle Smith, New York Post 1/6/14)

Research shows gifted behaviors mirror ADHD behaviors. (Barkley, 1990 and Webb, 1993) In a prior column, “Increase in ADHD and Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion have common causes”, I examined how we ignore what we know. We should take action to correct known problems and avert disaster. We also know curriculum in the United States is being dumbed down one grade level every ten years (National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent 1993), while IQ is increasing 3 points every ten years (The Rising Curve, Neisser 1998). Lack of mental challenge wreaks havoc on the young brain and behavior. If children are not mentally engaged and the situation lasts for a period of time, the child loses all desire to perform.

Gifted characteristics, taken from a Council Bluffs, Iowa teacher guide, for referral to gifted interventions include:

  • Has high energy; sometimes finds it difficult to sit still; may be impatient.
  • Questions authority and rules, questions reasons for decisions, may be stubborn, will disagree strongly sometimes.
  • Fails to complete homework and classroom assignments; may not pay attention to time limits or deadlines.

It is likely the child’s curriculum and instruction need adjustment.

At a Learning and the Brain conference in Vienna, Austria, I was astonished to hear South African Dr. Shirley Kokot’s description of identifying gifted among the heretofore ignored indigenous population. Her gifted identification tool employed only behavioral observation (no tests), but nevertheless gave 85% accuracy. Dr. Kokot found gifted children existed in this population and knew appropriate curriculum and instruction were vital for students to reach their greatest potential.

At the National Institute of Mental Health, over 15 years ago, I met with the top researcher for medically-treating ADHD. Armed with a briefcase full of supporting publications, I launched into my support for effective curriculum level, pace and appropriate instruction in place of medications to relieve ADHD symptoms. He stopped me short, explaining, “I know all that.” I wailed, “Then why are you doing this?” He responded “The federal government is paying me to research which medications are most effective in reducing ADHD behaviors in the classroom.”

When accompanying parents to school meetings, consistently, the school’s focus is on the child’s perceived weaknesses. What you focus on, you will get more of, leading to a rapid downward spiral. Not once has a school presented us (the consumer) a strengths-based assessment. The resolution in every case I have been involved, was to educate the school to stop doing what they were doing, determine the child’s strengths and adjust curriculum and instruction accordingly. Simply put, the definition of “To teach” is to offer curriculum a level above where the child is and at the appropriate pace for that individual child.

Drugs are the dark side of ADHD. The FDA warned 12/17/13 the use of ADD/ADHD drugs Ritalin, Concerta and Strattera can lead to priapism (painful and long-lasting erections) in males ages 8-33. Desoxyn is also used for the treatment of ADHD. Desoxyn’s active ingredient is methamphetamine hydrochloride, the same chemical countless public service announcements warn to not use even once. Evidently calling it Desoxyn instead of “Meth” or “Crank” converts it from a life-destroying substance to a safe and effective once-daily pill for the treatment of ADHD in children. “…from 2008-2012 young adults ages 26-34 nearly doubled their use of ADHD medication…” (Monthly Prescribing Reference (MPR) 3/12/14)

I recently spoke with a parent whose child was diagnosed with ADHD, medicated, struggled in school then landed in jail as a young adult. His crime? Methamphetamine use.

That scenario is a win-win for the union. ADHD diagnosis results in increased funding for special education and associated positions. During the 2012-2013 school year, Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) spent 18.1 % of their annual budget on special education instruction and transportation (LPS Annual Report). The courts and prison system expand.

We ought to pay more attention to what we know and take action accordingly.

Comrades, new developments: Paparazzi have been added. I have been photographed in the drugstore, grocery store, standing outside the hardware store and who knows where else? If you see a photo of me at coffee with Randi Weingarten (President of the American Federation of Teachers) on her field trip to Kiev, Ukraine last week, I was photo-shopped in.

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