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Is ADHD a real thing?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lovejoy_antiques, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Occasional commenter

    I was wondering what the views of other teachers are on this one? The official checklist for ADHD seems to be a very loose list of vague symptoms that could very well be attributed to other factors. Symptoms such as 'being unable to wait your turn', 'interrupting conversations' and 'having a short attention span' and 'excessive fidgeting' could just be due to being a child!

    I do personally feel that children sometimes play up to the label they are given. I have taught pupil's who were diagnosed with dyslexia who were only too keen to adopt the attitude of "well that's me finished with books then!"!!!

    I have also taught students unable to stop tapping on the desk due to their ADHD. However they quickly stop when the head teacher walks in. Indicating to me that they do have some degree of control over what their limbs are doing.

    I have also taught in schools where an ADHD diagnosis is used by management types to excuse all sorts of behaviour and rudeness. The sad thing is other children see this and take it as their benchmark of what you can get away with in class.

    It also seems that students are proud now to inform you that the behaviour they are displaying to sabotage teaching and learning is down to their 'ADHD'. If you ask them to tell you a bit more about their mental illness however they will take issue over their special ADHD being classed as a mental health issue.

    Looking at the list of ADHD 'symptoms' it seems they could all be either indicators of another condition. Be it a medical one or simply over exposure to digital media, lack of exercise or never being told the word ''no". I do personally feel that there is a fuzzy area between where ADHD starts and bad parenting stops. This may be an unpopular viewpoint but after a long time as a classroom teacher it is the conclusion I have reached.

    Maybe before diagnosing ADHD medical practitioners should ask one simple question. "If someone had a gun to your head could you stop tapping on the desk?" This might help filter out genuine cases from those who are just in need of what my nan would have called a "good red legging".

    To conclude, we live in a country where people come home from wars with limbs missing yet still sign up for marathons. That is the Dunkirk spirit and that is what British values should be about. Overcoming adversity not playing up to it or using it as an excuse to justify poor behaviour.
  2. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This is a widespread phenomenon among adults also. At this very moment legislation is being considered to permit people to identify as mentally unwell and gain the associated perks without having to bother with any of those tedious medical appointments.
  3. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Agree with much of this post. Some excellent musing there. Of course there are quite a good few folk making a good living out of 'promoting' ADHD; SEN teachers, social workers and my ever favourites CAMHs workers.
    Slapping a label on seems to remove all their responsibility for their role and they can slip comfortably back .......all ' sorted'.
  4. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Occasional commenter

    You can't just have the warm and fluffy side of a mental illness!
  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    On this very site.
    patternandsurface likes this.
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I would like to try the following:

    "See this £10 note? It's yours if you sit still and shut up for the whole time the teacher is talking to the class."
  8. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I taught at a PRU for some years.

    In response to those who claimed that the pupils often had an "involuntary" problem with behaviour and really could not help themselves, I responded that, given the chance of receiving £1000 for perfect behaviour, all of the pupils would be be like little angels for a day.
  9. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    Oposition defiant disorder.....argh.......
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
    Marisha, Shedman, nomad and 7 others like this.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This is one way of assessing dyscalculia.
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    The other question is, if the condition of ADHD is a true medical condition, I'm interested to know the incidence of the illness in the Far East.

    For example, what percentage of pupils from Singapore are debilitated by the problem?

    Is there a racial or genetic component to this affliction?
  12. peter12171

    peter12171 Lead commenter

    There are also a number of parents for whom a diagnosis is a godsend. Rather than admit that their parenting hasn’t been effective, they prefer to be able to say that it’s alldown to a medical condition.
  13. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    There are most definitely children who have adhd but not as many as we are led to believe.
  14. Grandsire

    Grandsire Senior commenter

    I know an adult with it - they are infuriating! They can’t concentrate on a conversation, and seem to need to be up and moving as soon as they sit down. It’s exhausting trying to discuss anything important with them if there’s anything else going on in the room. It’s clearly not voluntary as it causes no end of problems for them. Understanding ADHD in the adult helps me have more patience with the children I teach who present with similar symptoms.

    That said, I did know one ADHD-diagnosed pupil who, once weaned off their diet of chocolate bars and cans of Red Bull, turned out not to have it quite so badly after all...
    caress, slstrong123, Marisha and 17 others like this.
  15. balletomane

    balletomane New commenter

    There are two things to consider here. Firstly, ADHD difficulties do look extremely similar to attachment difficulties or other mental health issues arising from neglect, trauma, or poor nurturing at home. There is actually research to show that children who have a history of attachment problems will get a Conners score within the ADHD range (the Conners scale is a screening tool used as part of ADHD assessments).

    However, clinicians are aware of this, and a full assessment is designed to tease apart the origins and nature of children's difficulties. It is possible to differentiate between ADHD and other issues that may be at play. There is quite a culture of armchair diagnosis where people decide that a child has this condition or that condition based on very vague descriptors they find on the Internet that they aren't qualified to interpret, but a paediatrian or child psychiatrist has more to go on than that. There is a statistically significant subgroup of children who come from stable nurturing homes where clear boundaries are set and who still have problems with attention and executive function, which are at odds with their general level of intelligence and much more exaggerated than you would usually see in children of their age group. These difficulties can manifest as behavioural problems, of course, but they don't always - I teach in special school where we have a few very polite kids with ADHD, and although they have the attention span of the Andrex puppy, they make a real effort to work. I don't think we do kids any favours by assuming that attention deficits automatically mean hellish behaviour. (And in fairness to those ADHD children whose difficulties do lead to problems with behaviour, it's worth noting that sitting still for a short time when motivated by fear - for example, if the Head pops by - may be within reach, while being still for ninety minutes may be too much, regardless of fear.)

    Secondly, I find that "Are this child's labels accurate/real?" is rarely a helpful question, and that "What are the strategies that will be most effective for this child?" is much more useful in my day to day teaching. Based on the research literature, I don't accept that 'pathological demand avoidance' is a neurological condition that is on the autistic spectrum, for example - but regardless of whether PDA exists as an organic condition, that pattern of behaviour certainly does exist, and I still have to find a way to teach children who exhibit it even if I dislike the way it's being packaged and presented by certain groups as some biological thing. Strategies promoted by PDA support groups help in my teaching, so I adopt them, even though I don't buy into their attitude. If a child is progressing and I have techniques that work, then the exact source of the child's difficulties becomes less important, IMO.
  16. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Established commenter

    When this epidemic first started Sunset Yellow was to blame. Most of that has been replaced with Iron Oxide - but ADHD persists and flourishes. I wonder why?
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    I can never quite understand the thinking behind prescribing Ritalin which as far as I can tell is an amphetamine ie speed.
    Vince_Ulam and agathamorse like this.
  18. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Occasional commenter

    I've never understood why pumping kids full of drugs like ritalin is seen as perfectly ok by the same group of people who thing a parent physically disciplining a child is abuse. I can see a time when there is a big scandal errupting over this.
    BetterNow and peter12171 like this.
  19. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Occasional commenter


    " I find that "Are this child's labels accurate/real?" is rarely a helpful question"

    I disagree. I think this is a perfectly valid question. After all surely it is important to question and think for yourself rather than bow down to the judgements made by others.

    "it's worth noting that sitting still for a short time when motivated by fear - for example, if the Head pops by - may be within reach, while being still for ninety minutes may be too much, regardless of fear.)"

    I wouldn't expect any child to be still and silent for 90 minutes. But 5 minutes is reasonable so that I can tell the class what I want them to do that lesson! Also as little/no sense of danger is a recognised symptom by the ADHD lobby then if a child genuinely has the condition you are arguing in favour of it's hardly likely they are sitting there in fear!

    Ps: what are the class sizes in your special school? Anywhere close to 30?
  20. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    In response to the questions about the Far East - yes, I can assure you that it does exist here. Most of the kids work well, but ADHD doesn't necessarily manifest as a kid bouncing off the wall - it's a lack of attention, or ability to concentrate for long periods of time. It shows up particularly in subjects which the kids don't think of as "important". It shows up differently, as the kid who can't stop talking, or the kid who deliberately flunks a test (yes, that's happened).

    I've seen too many otherwise intelligent and able kids who have found school difficult because of ADHD in my short teaching career - and I can remember some from my own schooldays. Just because something wasn't diagnosed or understood 30 years ago doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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