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Does Your Child Have An Attention Deficit Disorder - Or Are You Just Not Up To The Job?

by Bob Collier

"The use of psycho-stimulants - Ritalin and methylphenidate - to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has increased 26 per cent annually in Australia between 1984 and 2000." (The Canberra Times, 18 November 2002)

Holy cripes! Increased by 26 per cent annually?? Doesn't that mean that the use of these drugs is more than doubling every four years?

Here's some information I got about ADHD (or simply ADD as it's apparently just as commonly known) from a leaflet published by the Government of South Australia's "ParentLink" agency: "Despite 30 years of research worldwide there is no clear explanation why ADD happens in some children."

Hmmm... That's interesting, isn't it? "Your school age child may have ADD if he or she is having difficulties both at school and at home and has had at least six of the listed behaviours in either of the following groups." The two groups are headed "Attention", which has nine behaviours listed, and "Hyperactivity/Impulsivity", which also has nine behaviours listed. When I read through these behaviours, my response to all of them was either "So what?" or "There are other possible explanations for this". In fact, it says as much in the "ParentLink" leaflet, which goes on to discuss the many possible ways of explaining behaviour that *might* be ADD. It also suggests that there are many possible ways to deal with ADD before even approaching the option of drugs.

So, what's going on here? To start with, in my almost eighteen years as a parent - a time during which I've observed hundreds of children at close quarters on a regular basis - I've never personally encountered a child whose behaviour has suggested to me that they have something called an Attention Deficit Disorder.

Yet, it seems that there are thousands upon thousands of them and more and more of them every year. Do they hide when they see me coming? Something is not quite as it appears to be! Could it be that what this is really all about is parents not being able to cope with the demands of their job?

Well, I can understand that. Parenting can be every bit as physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding as the toughest job in any area of society. Yet many of us can find ourselves in very difficult circumstances where we're expected to perform heroics with very little training or support - or even none at all.

I know only too well that motivation is a constant issue in parenting. But there are better ways for us to go than to use drugs on our children because we don't feel up to doing what's required of us. We could enroll in a parenting class, or read a motivational book, or listen to a self-improvement tape, or take a course in child psychology, or even simply talk to other successful parents. Far better for our children and their future that we do any or all of these things than to abdicate our responsibility and allow the medical profession to take over.

Copyright (c) 2002, Bob Collier
Bob Collier is a stay-at-home father of two who suspects that ADD is a "self-fulfilling hypothesis". He publishes a free weekly newsletter called "Parental Intelligence" - How to be a happy and successful parent! Read a sample issue of Parental Intelligence at: http://www.topica.com/lists/pintel and subscribe today.