Children and Kids articles catalog


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 parent.

The most prevalent, and most controversial, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is drug therapy. The top drugs of choice being Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine and Concerta.

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 1990.

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 societal "norm."

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 of life!

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 each.

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 mistakes.

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 start.

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

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