If we listen to the news or take a headcount in our classes, it seems ADHD is sweeping the nation. Now, ADHD is different than ADD, but they come under the same umbrella. Both are actual diseases that affect the way the brain functions.
ADHD is “attention deficient hyperactive disorder.” ADD is simply “attention deficient disorder.” In a given school, it seems a huge number of kids have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, and many more suspect they have the disorder. But do they?
Only 3-5% of the population under twenty is affected by ADHD or ADD. That means that maybe one person in a classroom of twenty-five will have ADD or ADHD. And those individuals do have a real disease that can affect their life in a serious way.
ADD and ADHD are different animals. Both are caused by the brain working in a different way than is considered “normal.” (But what is normal, really?)
Speaking very generally, kids with inattention ADD can pay attention to things, but can’t maintain it. Their minds wander off no matter how hard they try. These kids forget details and have trouble staying focused, even when you’re talking right to them. This is also the kid that is always distracted, disorganized and can’t seem to finish anything no matter how much they mean to get it done.
On the other hand, kids with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD can’t stay in their seat, are constantly twitching and on the go. They run or climb whether or not they are allowed to and can’t seem to make themselves stop. They blurt out answers or interrupt you when you’re trying to ask a question or talk. These kids might talk a lot.
Now, these descriptions and symptoms are just that – symptoms. Like individuals, no two cases of ADD or ADHD are the same and they can affect people very differently. You don’t have ADD just because you can’t sit still for an hour long lecture. Kids are supposed to have energy, and being loud and running around are also typical kid and teen behavior. Only a doctor can actually diagnose ADD or ADHD.
There are lots of ongoing research projects with ADD or ADHD, but very little conclusive evidence other than the actual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Some scientists and researchers feel like ADD or ADHD is over diagnosed. This means that a lot of kids are told they have ADD or ADHD and even given drugs to control it when they might not.
Every kid is different and these researchers feel that some kids might just have more energy than others. Other doctors and scientists feel that our current lifestyle has a lot to do with false ADD or ADHD diagnoses. In short, some kids actually have ADD or ADHD, others might just be told they do because they show a couple of the symptoms – only a specialist can tell.
Some researchers and scientists think that kids are told they have ADD when they do not. Instead, those kids are just reacting to our modern lifestyle.
We play a lot of video games, are on the computer a lot and watch movies that have fast action. We want things now, and are used to high energy, fast thoughts, rapid movement and changing sights. This is something that has just started in recent generations.
For lots of kids, teachers are the first to point out to parents that there might be a problem with attention or too much energy. Unfortunately, to a lot of old fashioned teachers wanting to move and talk constantly seem wrong. It’s also obviously wrong (to these old teachers at least) to not be able to focus on what the teacher is saying or not finish your math homework.
That’s not to say some kids don’t really have ADD or ADHD – they do. Those with ADD have a serious brain condition. The rest of us are just bored with the lectures and worksheets that are supposed to help us learn. I’m just saying that to at least a few researchers and a lot of kids, movement, talking and wanting the teacher to entertain us rather than preach to us is not abnormal – it’s becoming the NEW normal. Some teachers, parents and maybe even doctors just need to catch up to the rest of us.