What is ADHD? - By Jeannine Virtue
It seems that the "What is ADHD" question is not very easy to answer, despite
the plethora of studies, research and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity testing over
the past decades.
In asking the question, "What is ADHD," it is easier to answer by describing
what ADHD is not. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder testing and research
has not proven that ADHD is a medical condition. There is no concrete research that
supports that Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is
a genuine disorder or a disease.
What we do know is that Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD is becoming a modern
day American plague. It is the fastest growing diagnosis given to children and teens,
often based on subjective Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactivity testing of parent
ratings and doctor observations.
Doctors use a standard checklist of characteristics when Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
testing to make a diagnosis and prescribe a standard course of stimulant drug therapy
in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity.
ADHD symptoms commonly include aggressive behavior, constant activity, easy distractibility,
impulsiveness and/or the inability to concentrate. These ADHD symptoms may include
fidgeting or constant movement, excessive talking and difficulty participating in
"quiet" activities like reading.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children always seem to be in motion.
They dash around, wiggle, squirm, fidget and talk nonstop. They are whirlwinds that
leave messes, throw tantrums, start fights and act obstinate.
It`s hard to miss ADHD in children but if the parent happens to miss the signs,
the child`s teacher certainly will make a point of clearly pointing it out to the
The most prevalent, and most controversial, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder is drug therapy. The top drugs of choice being Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine
Now here`s the scary part; These commonly prescribed drugs in the treatment of
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder fall in
the same drug category (Schedule II) as cocaine, methadone and opium.
Only a decade ago, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder testing and treatment
of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was virtually unheard of.
The 1987 edition of the Webster`s Dictionary, touting 50,000 entries and modern
definitions, does not even include the word "Hyperactive" or "Hyperactivity." The
American Psychiatric Association did not name Attention Deficit as a disorder until
Young boys, by nature have higher levels of energy than their female counterparts.
Boys are diagnoses at a rate three times higher than girls.
When did active, high-spirited, strong-willed and oft times uncooperative kids
move from kids being kids to children having a mental disorder? If using ADHD medication
sales as a marker, this shift began right about the time the American Psychiatric
Association named this set of characteristics as a disorder.
Since 1990, prescriptions for ADHD medications quintupled.
As Attention Deficit Hyperactivity testing and treatment of Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder reach all-time highs and continue to climb in this country,
other countries around the world seem relatively unaffected by this "disorder."
This is America`s plague.
This country uses 500% more Ritalin than all the rest of the world combined.
It is rare to find an Asian child undergoing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder testing, much less receiving treatment. European children are diagnosed
at a rate of about 10 percent of their American counterparts.
Either the United States has some pretty hyped up kids or American doctors are
over-diagnosing Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Some people argue that Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder are not disorders at all, but simply personality types. Some people can
sit still, pay attention, concentrate on specific tasks and exhibit proficient social
skills. Others get fidgety, jump from project to project or just do not fit in the
The argument is that ADHD people are not "sick" and in need of dangerous drug
therapy but simply have a different way of dealing with the conventional world.
Sure these high-energy and on-the-go kids can be incredibly irritating to teachers,
energy draining to parents and general all-around hassles in the grocery store but
they are also unique, creative, expressive and full of life. And boy, are they full
Maybe we, as a society, should encourage some of these freethinking traits instead
of expecting these children to sit quietly.
After all, had Albert Einstein, Lugwig Van Beethoven, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo
Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Henry David Thoreau grown up in today`s
society, they likely would have been slapped with the Attention Deficit label and
placed on medications to make them conform to societal standards.
Should we stifle the natural enthusiasm and fervor of hyperactive people with
drug medications? Would we have the genius of these incredibly unique minds if stifled
by altering drugs?
You have to wonder
In the conventional treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the
goal is short-term, as are the effects. The goal is to make the child more compliant
(usually so they can sit quietly in school) and ADHD medications do work effectively
for the majority of children.
However, the price paid for compliant children can be detrimental to the child`s
mental and physical well being is high.
You want your child to be able to focus, sustain attention and behave calmly
and appropriately on his own instead of relying on a pharmaceutical drug to do that
for him. We do not want a generation of children to grow up automatically thinking
that drugs are the answer.
Treatment should address the root of the problem instead of temporarily masking
the symptoms and it should produce lasting changes instead of "fixing" the problem
for a couple hours.
A large body of research indicates that environmental factors - nutritionally
deficient diets, lead poisoning, food allergies and such - cause ADHD symptoms.
By ruling out environmental toxins, food allergies and other possibly causes
and by increasing the body`s strength and wellness through sound diet and nutritional
supplementation, Attention Deficit problems can be gently and effectively addressed
without the use of dangerous medications.
We also believe that ADHD should stand for "Absolutely Delightful, Hardy and
Daring" young children that will one day grow into fine adults if raised in an accepting,
loving and stable environment.
So what is ADHD? Nothing to be feared, nothing to dreaded, nothing other than
a label placed on the societal wild children that need a little extra love and a
whole lot of patience.
Jeannine Virtue is a freelance
journalist and mother of an Attention Deficit Disorder son. To learn about effective
alternatives to Ritalin and other ADHD medications, visit
HEARING IS BELIEVING: Combating Failure Phobia - By Elisa Medhus, M.D.
Children come into this world unperturbed by their own failures?until they
realize that those blunders will be scrutinized, evaluated, and criticized by others.
Why the about-face? Simple. We?re pack animals. And being pack animals, we thirst
for a sense of belonging?thirst that can be quenched in two ways?earning pack acceptance
by offering unique contributions or roles that benefit the pack (self-direction)
and begging for that acceptance, making all choices contingent upon whatever will
win the pack?s approval (external direction.) Sadly, most of humanity has chosen
this second path, and for that reason, failure has become a ball and chain around
our children?s legs. Over time, our children learn to fear the ridicule or reprimand
that comes along with failure. From this, they begin to resort to outside evaluation
as a means of self-assessment instead of using their mistakes as information that
will help them shape future choices, because after all, how can they trust in an
inner choice-making process that has subjected them to humiliation?
Failure phobia is responsible for today?s commonplace reluctance to make choices.
The result?an epidemic of underachievers (those who choose not to choose, because
they?re afraid their choices will result in failure) and perfectionists (those who
choose according to the highest possible social standards, because they are afraid
that making a lesser choice will make them less acceptable.) People from either
group become afraid to think in fear that the product of their thoughts may produce
failures that weaken their sense of worth. Instead, they rely on others to do the
thinking for them.
As parents, we can raise our children to both welcome and learn from the mistakes
they will surely make during their lives instead of being shattered by them. We
can teach them to use their mistakes to help them grow instead of allowing those
mistakes to generate external reactions that will make them wither. Only then can
they strive for personal excellence, which, when it boils right down to it, is what
we really want for them.
Here are some suggestions that might help our children develop good defeat recovery
skills through self-direction:
1) Discuss your own mistakes with your children and the lessons you learned from
2) Never deny children something they?re good at as a consequence for misbehavior.
3) Teach children that there is no quota for failed attempts. There?s progress
and success to be found in each of them.
4) Teach children to strive for personal excellence rather than perfection. If
they learn to assess themselves objectively rather than through the evaluations
and opinions of others, they?ll be able to compete with their own past performance
rather than the performance of others. And they?ll be able to do so according to
their own agenda and at their own pace.
5) Use mistake contests. Ask your children to record every mistake they?ve made
during the day. During dinner, each can describe the mistake from which they?ve
learned the most. The entire family can then decide which one was the best and why.
Because this unmasks the advantages that each failure offers, children become more
accepting of their shortcomings and mistakes.
6) Downplay past failures
7) Teach children to develop ?failure tolerance? by not over-reacting to their
8) Encourage mistakes in children. Doing this helps them perceive their failures
more as positive opportunities to grow than as something that gnaws away at their
self-worth. They?ll learn to stare adversity in the face and think, ?What can this
teach me? How can this help me grow??
9) Encourage children to do things on their own, whenever possible. We should
not rescue them from their struggles, settle their conflicts, or shelter them from
challenges. These actions send a message that they can?t make choices or manage
tasks without our help.
10) Teach children to separate their failures from their self-worth. We can help
them see that there?s a difference between failing at a task and failing as a person.
Letting them know how much they should value the fact that they?ve tried is a good
11) Accept suffering as a good thing. When children struggle, they develop strength,
compassion and soulfulness. They also learn that there?s light at the end of those
dark tunnels?that suffering is something they can overcome.
Once our children use their mistakes and failures as a tool to help them learn
and grow instead of weapons designed to sabotage their self-worth, imagine the repercussions!
They?d be more willing to take risks. They?d then be able to rack up a solid list
of skills and abilities, making them highly competent. This competence then leads
to a strong sense of independence, which then bolsters their self-confidence and
self-esteem. And what about the benefits for the rest of the world? Throughout history,
risk takers like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Madam Curie, the Wright brothers, and
Jonas Salk have blessed us with much that is wonderful in our world.
HEARING IS BELIEVING: How Words Can Make or Break Our Kids, By: Elisa Medhus,
MD., Price: $14.95, Trade Paperback, Published by New World Library,
Order toll-free: 1-800-972-6657 Ext/ 52 or
Elisa Medhus, M.D., is a physician
who built and operated a successful private medical practice in Houston Texas for
thirteen years. Her busy practice served thousands of families. She is also the
mother of five children ages 6 through 17, some of whom have special challenges
like Tourette?s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
With over 17 years? experience parenting her own children, several years? experience
home-schooling her children and thirteen years? experience as a family physician,
Dr. Medhus is uniquely qualified to address the concerns of parents.
In high demand as a keynote speaker and as a guest on TV and radio, Dr. Medhus
regularly discusses the issues and problems facing today?s families. Her previous
book, Raising Children Who Think for Themselves, won the prestigious Parents? Choice
Award. Her website is www.drmedhus.com
Children articles index
- Brains on Fire: The Multimodality of Gifted Thinkers - By Brock Eide
- laying Baby Computer Games ? The New Parent-Child Tradition? - By Emma
- Book Excerpt: Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph
- Putting Fun Into Parenting - By David Stoepker, Psy.D., & Erin Brown Con
- Preparing Your Child for a High-Tech Future - By Sue Sato
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive
- Abandonment - By Sonya Green
- Explaining Suicide to Children - by Tracy Pierson
- Our Children`s Needs - by Robert Elias Najemy
- How to Develop Self-Esteem in Children - By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
- Helping Children Overcome Stress and Fear - By Debbie Milam
- Do you Shout at YOUR children? - By James Middleton
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- SPEED SPELLING: Another way to use speed reading skills for "schoolwork&q
- Children and Stress - By Laura Silva Quesada
- Boundaries- Why Are They Needed? - by Derek Randel & Gail Randel M.D.
- Juggling Home
- Explaining World tragedy to Children - By Chick Moorman and Thomas Ha
- Children and Pessimism - By Carol Tuttle
- Loving Yourself, Loving Your Children - By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
- Social Manners for Children - By Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach
- The Sexual Abuse of Children - By J. Bailey Molineux
- A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs - By Steve Edelman1,
- DYSLEXICS and A.D.D. KIDS BECOME GIFTED SPEED READERS - by George Stanc
- Using Feng Shui for Better Behaved Children - By Kathryn Weber
- Book Excerpt: Helping Children with Autism Learn - By Bryna Siegel,
- Five Keys to Raising Nonviolent Children - By Tammy Cox, LMSW
- The Best Way to Reduce Stress: Start Young - By Zach Brull
- Your Child?s Self-Esteem is in The Cards - By Susan Howson
- Calming Tips for Hyperactive Children - By Jeannine Virtue
- What is ADHD? - By Jeannine Virtue
- Talking to Your Children About Sex - By Jan Andersen
- How Our Children Really Learn And Why They Need To Play More And Memo
- HOW DO WE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM PREDATORS? - By Linda J Alexander,
- Teach Children Positive Self-Image Through Fitness - By Lynn Bode
- No Invitation Needed -- Part 3 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Helping Our Children Feel Good About Themselves - By Dr.Barbara Becker Hol
- Unidentified Stepfamily Zones - Discoveries Made at a Stepfamily Confer
- Divorce and Children: Things To Consider When You`re Staying Married
- Six facts you should know to empower your teaching. - By Emmanuel
- Are You in an Abusive Situation? - by Colin Gabriel Hatcher & Randall
- The Divorce Revolution Has Failed - By J. Bailey Molineux
- Is Your Child Well-Mannered? - By Mary Jesse
- Jesus` Birthday -- Part 2 of 3 Sacred Children Series - By Skye T
- Empty Nesters: What Should You Do Once the Children Leave? - By Mary Guar
- We should celebrate the diversity of children and adults - By Robyn M
- How to Cope with Back to School Stress - By Debbie Mandel
- HIS KIDS: BECOMING A W.O.W. STEPMOTHER - by Julie Donner Andersen
- ADD / ADHD Children : Being Your Child`s Best Friend - By Kate Hufst