How is it that ADHD is becoming an increasingly common condition in our society?
Why is it that this condition is on the rise? Could it possibly be a reflection of the society we are being brought up in or, as many medical professionals tell us, ADHD is simply caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain?
In 2012, it was stated in the article ‘Why French Kids Don’t have ADHD’ that ADHD is much more prevalent in the USA than it is in France and it discusses how these two countries take different approaches in treating this condition. It claims that in the USA, it is more common to use medication, while in France the approach is completely different. French child psychiatrists take the view that it is of greater importance to examine ‘the underlying issue that is causing the child distress – not in the child’s brain, but in the child’s social context.’ This basically means that they prefer to look at HOW the child is in life before considering this condition as a chemical imbalance in the brain. This approach certainly differs from that of using medication. The interesting thing this article highlights is that the author believes that the rate of this condition is much lower in France because of the social context children are being born into, indicating that routine, boundaries, and nutrition have a significant role to play in determining whether a child will develop ADHD.
If we think about ADHD and how the numbers keep increasing, how much can we really blame the increased numbers on chemical imbalances in the brain?
It may be that doctors are more aware of the physiology of ADHD and can therefore make a better diagnosis. It could also be that conditions such as this are increasing because of how our lifestyles have gradually been changing over the years. If we compare life now to seventy-five years ago, when ADHD hadn’t been diagnosed as a condition, there are some major differences. For example, the obvious one is that we didn’t have things like television, Internet or video games back then. Neither were there mobile phones or devices that give us instant access to all the above-mentioned stimuli. Technology is definitely of great use to society, however, is it possible that an overuse of these devices is a factor that influences conditions such as ADHD?
Our diet today, with the increase of preservatives, chemicals, sugars and processed meals consumed, combined with the fact that it is not uncommon for kids to have access to snacks whenever they want, are other major differences that could also be attributing to the increase in ADHD. The author of the article, ‘Why French Kids don’t have ADHD’ mentions how kids ‘learn to wait patiently for meals rather than eating snack food whenever they feel like it.’ As well as this, the parents enforce routines and rules in the home, which give the children’s lives structure, and a sense of feeling ‘safe and secure.’ Therefore it may also be that not having a clear routine throughout the day or clear boundaries set in place are other reasons why ADHD is on the increase.
So when we are faced with students in our classrooms that have this condition, what is the best way to deal with them? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that. However, one suggestion from the article ‘Children with ADHD should be allowed to fidget’ is that we allow students to continue with their ‘wriggling and fidgeting’ in class.
The research results of one study showed that the more ADHD children moved around, the better they were able to perform tasks in the classroom.