I was searching more and found this on the website of the Center For Disease Control, based here in Atlanta: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5434a2.htm You can click here to read the full report, and I think EVERY parent should read this whether their own children have ADD/ADHD or not. This is part of what this report says:
Prevalence and national population estimates of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis were calculated and compared by selected sociodemographic characteristics (Table). In 2003, approximately 7.8% (4,418,000; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4,234,000–4,602,000) of U.S. children aged 4–17 years had ever had ADHD diagnosed. ADHD diagnosis was reported approximately 2.5 times more frequently among males than females (Figure 1). Prevalence of reported ADHD increased with age and was significantly lower among children aged 4–8 years compared with children aged >9 years (Table). The greatest prevalence was noted among males aged 16 years (14.9%) and females aged 11 years (6.1%). The prevalence of reported ADHD diagnosis was significantly higher among non-Hispanic, primarily English-speaking, and insured children. Moreover, prevalence rates were significantly higher for children in families in which the most highly educated adult was a high school graduate (or had completed 12 years of education), compared with children in families in which the most highly educated adult had a higher or lower level of education. ADHD diagnosis among males was reported significantly more often in families with incomes below the poverty threshold (<100%) than in families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold. Rates of reported diagnosis among females were not significantly different across the three levels of poverty. Prevalence varied substantially by state, from a low of 5.0% in Colorado to a high of 11.1% in Alabama (Figure 2).
So let’s look at what we can gleam from above, maybe I am reading too much in between the lines, but you all can leave me a comment and tell me what you think! So, from above it appears:
- Being male is a risk factor. I think this goes back directly to how our society handles raising boys, and how being boy almost is looked at as a liability by many in society (not so consciously and consciously!) that I have written about before (but can’t seem to find the exact post in my almost 700 posts! Bah!). But here’s a post to start you off: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/27/boys-boys-boys/ . Also, here is an interesting article about the “rough and tumble play” boys engage in: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/play.pdf
- Children over the age of 9 are more frequently diagnosed….I wonder if this is related to lack of meaningful rites of passage, this whole metamorphosis of the children ages 9-12 being “tweens” and not children, the whole prolonged adolescence that occurs in our country. I wrote a bit about that here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/30/rite-of-passage-parenting-four-essential-experiences-to-equip-your-kids-for-life-heading-up-to-the-nine-year-change-and-beyond/ and here is a good article regarding the phenomenon of “teening” from the Movement for Childhood website: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/teening.pdf.
- Greatest prevalence was among “non-Hispanic, primarily English-speaking, and insured children.” So what does that mean? The incidence would be higher if we included children that were not insured and could afford to “get diagnosed”? Or does it mean there is something cultural in the way non-Hispanic, primarily English-speaking parents who have insurance look at childhood behaviors that cause them to seek a medical opinion? Are there true differences according to ethnic background? Genetics? What do you all think? I don’t know the answers on this one.
- Prevalence rate was related to a parent’s level of education. See above. Males were more often diagnosed amongst families who live below the poverty level. Female rates of diagnosis were not different across different levels of poverty. What is this caused by?
- Prevalence varied by state. Does this have to do with access to doctors who are knowledgeable, could this have to do with rates of obesity and amount of time spent in nature from state to state? I remember reading Colorado has one of the most fit and outdoor, active populations in our country. Alabama does not. Again, what do you all think?
Obviously, ADD/ADHD has been around for a long time. I think the etiology of something like this would obviously be multi- factorial. No, I don’t think ADD/ADHD is anyone’s “fault” per say, although I do think a society that starts children so early in academics and expects children to sit still and write, a society that is taking away recess and children learning experientially, a society where children’s free play is disappearing, is headed for trouble.
So do I think parents, teachers, concerned neighbors and friends could do things to help?
Why yes, yes I do.
1. I think all concerned adults, whether we have children or not, should take a hard look at an educational system that pushes academics before age six and a half or seven. In many countries around the world, including China and Japan and Finland and other countries whose children do much better in later testing than our children, school may “start” at any early age but no academics are touched. Why do we have the model we have today? When in the 1940’s first grade was a half day and six-year-olds napped, how did we get to where we are?
Here are some lecture notes from a lecture regarding boys that Kim John Payne gave: http://www.thechildtoday.com/files/Boy_O_Boy_Calgary
A NY Times article on taking play seriously: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/magazine/17play.html?_r=2&pagewanted=2&oref=slogin
Ideas for different difficulties with the twelve senses/movement: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/keys.pdf
We should be lobbying our lawmakers and policymakers to take a good look at this, and we should be supporting organizations that are looking at this such as Alliance for Childhood (http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/)
2. I think we should be pushing our children to spend time in nature. You can read Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder.” Here is his website: http://richardlouv.com/
3. We should be helping parents make critical choices surrounding the usage of media and computers for small children. Here is the “Media and Children” section from the Alliance for Childhood website: http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/media
4. We should be helping children eat a health diet with foods as close to a natural state as possible.
5. We should be helping parents to not over-schedule and rush children with extra classes and lessons. For those of you who have read “Simplicity Parenting”, you can join The Circle or find a group here: http://www.simplicityparenting.com/forsimplicityparents.html
From a Waldorf perspective:
- Marsha Johnson had a list recently on her Yahoo!Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do try the FREE audio over at Christopherus regarding Waldorf as a therapeutic education: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html
- Do look more into the “Movement for Childhood” website I listed so many times above.
- Warmth! Warmth for the chest area, hats, socks, warm clothing!
- Rhythm! Rhythm is very important. There are so many articles on rhythm on this blog. Here is one to start: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/01/cultivating-rhythm-the-inner-work-of-advent/
- You, the adult, being present and not over-loaded. Inner work for you!
- Be home together – cut out all the running around for forty days and see if that helps. Run YOUR errands at night without your children.
- Get rid of all screens for forty days and see if there is a difference.
- The things mentioned above – diet, sleep, spending hours each day in nature (I personally recommend at least three or more)
- Cut down the amount of STUFF in your house dramatically and see if that doesn’t also help with sleep, rest and behavior.
- Sensory issues? Other things that may be mistaken for ADD/ADHD but are really something else or something contributing to what is going on? Sometimes in those cases, I do think a therapist (The RIGHT Therapist, if you can find one!) can be helpful.
Just some ideas; please,please, take what resonates with you. YOU are the expert on your own family! I am sorry this has turned into a small novel!
Please leave me your comments below and help other mothers out!