Cyn (ssha) wrote in illscience,

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A note on medicating children with ADD & Another on education...

A note on medicating children with ADD:

I was diagnosed at age 7 with ADD, borderline hyperacte. As a result, they attempted Ritalin, but it didn't really help. Instead, they gave me Dexedrine. For those of you for whom that word does not immediately bring visions, let me explain. Dexedrine is prescription grade speed, plain and simple. It is what models used to be prescribed by their 'doctors' in the 70's. It is what was in Dexatrim before they were forced to change the formula. Hence the similarity in name.

According to the complaints from friends and relatives my age, it was horrible. I became a 'zombie'. They all actively advocated me skipping my pills. I ought to have listened. Not only was this claim true, but I believe that the speed prescribed to me for so many years had much worse effects than this. For one, I became incredibly depressed at the onset of puberty, including suicide attempts. I believe this happened when I outgrew the hyperactivity which the speed was suppressing. Oh, BTW, this is one way you are supposed to be able to diagnose ADHD--uppers work like downers, downers like uppers. This is because, as it was explained to me, sufferers become hyper in order to avoid falling asleep. This extreme lethargy against which they fight is, apparently, brought on by the overworking of the mind, as it races a million miles an hour faster than the brains of others. Second, I developed a gigantic pituitary tumor, which grew much larger and faster than it had any right to, until it was a whopping 4"x4"x2"... just in the parts they could see in a mass. When all tendrils and such were put together, it was closer to 6"x4"x4". As a note, most pituitary tumors are not found until an incidental (unrelated) autopsy, and never have any real effect. Nor do they generally become larger than golf balls. I'm, apparently, special. I think it quite the coincidence that the tumor formed and grew the way, and at the time, that it did. The doctors estimated it had been there for at least 12 years. I was 24 when it was finally discovered. I didn't finally refuse to continue taking my Dexedrine until I was 13 or 14.

Another point about ADHD which I don't think is considered today, is that (according to my psych professionals as a child) you must have a high- to genius- level IQ in order to have ADHD/ADD/AADD. What I have come to realize, however, is that ADHD is a handy way of coming up with a diagnosis for boredom (and resultant acting out), so that it can be medicated.

You see, prescriptions must have a diagnosis code attached to them in order to be valid as pharmaceuticals according to the governmental bodies which control such things, and to be paid by insurance (I'd need a whole other post to get into this). You can't drug your hyper-intelligent child so that they conform to the standards of behavior for public schools, while bored out of their mind due to a need for faster movement through the educational rigors and more advanced work than their fellow classmates... unless you have a valid diagnosis code to use with it. Enter ADHD/ADD.

Now, don't get me wrong, ADD is real. However! ADD is also way over-diagnosed, and is being looked at as a disability incorrectly. It is not, in fact, a disability. It is a hyper-ability which is under-served by the limits of our current public education system. It is, quite simply, as I stated previously, the result of boredom. The lack of challenge. The lack of interest.

A plan for education in the future:

It seems to me, and has for quite some time now, that the public education system needs a complete overhaul. In a sense, we need to take a step backwards, but slightly to the side.

Way back whe, we had multiple ages/grades in one classroom, you see. I think we need to go back to this.

Forget age defining grade level. Look how many dropouts and ineffective educations this has given us. My... concept consists of a classroom defined by learning level, not necessarily age.

Under my system, children would first be tested, around ages 3-5 for a basic skill set. Based on this measurement, they are placed in school, or continue with pre-school level education to establish basic reading, writing and speech skills. Once they are ready, they then move on to the next 'grade level', where they learn another set of skills at certain levels. If this takes them more than one year, so be it. One might institute a rough age limit, at which a student is simply passed on or moved into some alternative remedial/counseling system for each of these 'grades'. That would be worked out in future. If so, the rough divisions would be ages 3-6, 7-11, 12-15, 16-21, or thereabouts, as I've defined them in my thoughts. Also, school would be year round, four-six days per week, 8 hours a day (roughly). We no longer need summers off to assist our parents with the harvest, in most cases. In the others, my father has a plan for that, involving an entire sociopolitical idea which he has worked out for aspects of the adult population, which I will not get into here, having enough to fill your screens with.

In these small divisions of population, the children would study at the given level of knowledge until they had fully grasped all concepts, or until the implementation of any alternate plan for remedial education which might come into play at a given age. They would then graduate, immediately, into the next level, and so on. The hope of this plan is that one would reach their full potential by age 21 as far as basic education goes, before moving on to the college level for career training and scholarly pursuits in colleges and universities. Likely, at some point in the process, the child would have developed an affinity for a certain line of education and thought, and the system could be adapted to contain rough tracks for these leanings, to help usher the child into their chosen field(s), or to test out these fields more fully before giving their life and future to its study.

Anyway, that's just a very rough, semi-stream-of-consciousness diatribe. Feel free to ask questions, or offer commentary.
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I just took piles of mdma for several years and the resulting drop in iq totally chilled out my ADD, way more fun that ritalin, unfortunately now everytime I set something down it takes me about 8 minutes to find it again. I think ADD is also perscribed for laziness and lack of discipline as well as super-intelligence, I had plenty of challenging school work to do that I never did 'cause I'd rather be playing Strider and reading Dragonlance books.
Goddamn no good bunch of Kender were those books lousy. And I read them, dammit.
heh yeah me too,

in fact shamefully I read that last one...dragons of summer twilight or something that came out a couple years ago. aside from ADD I have a touch o' OCD and could never leave just 1 book unread. and yes, they were terrible
I often think I might have a touch of OCD.

Is that fucking Dolph Lundgren?
I think it might be. Though, his hair seems a little dark to my memory.
At the age of six the doctors said that I would most assuredly need to be put on Ritalin and some other little helpers for my ADD-HD, with emphasis on the HD part. I was pretty bad, ringing everybody's doorbell every day and inquiring as to how they were doing. Taking apart every doorknob in the house. However, my father dragged me out of there and refused to let them put me on a regimen, regardless of their almost daily insistence and calls.

And now? Sure I'm a little excitable. But most folks would actually describe me a little on the mellow side. And supremely happy every day, never ever truly depressed or angry. And I thank my pop, who is solely responsible.
Sounds to me like you were an extroverted, happy little kid.

Heh, you story about hte doorknobs reminded me of that tendency in myself as a child. I once took apart the Commodore 64 and put it back together, for instance.
ITA that ADHD/ADD/AADD is over-diagnosed. I worked at a university computer lab for sudents with disabilities (mostly blind and learning "disabled"), and I could guarantee that many people are mis-diagnosed. Nowadays, they are over-medicated, too.

you must have a high- to genius- level IQ in order to have ADHD/ADD/AADD.

Ironically, I think this rule of thumb (one can only diagnose a subject with ADD/ADHD/AADD if s/he is of above average intelligence) was meant to prevent over-diagnosis. The crude assessment tools used for diagnosis will show that most folks with below average intelligence have these "conditions." So professionals exclude anyone of average and below average intelligence from this diagnosis.

I think it's a testament to the utter lack of understanding of the conditions, their cause(s), their expressions/manifestations, and so on.

My nephew has ADD and his parents have taken him off Ritalin, which genuinely helped him to a degree but is also a kind of crutch in ways he doesn't need a crutch. Anyway, they are trying to get him into this community college program that takes "special" high school kids--smart enough to need more educational interaction and too hyper to wait patiently for the other 29-34 students in his over-crowded class to get on the same page. So, word!
Hee! Cool!

I got mired in something of a Catch 22 in school, myself. I probably would have done extremely well were I allowed to study in a program like that at the community college. I base this partly on the evidence of having excelled in Summer science programs of this type. I couldn't be bumped up, however, because I was not succeeding in a statistically proven way through grades, because I was bored out of my skull because I couldn't get bumped up, because I wasn't succeeding, because I was uninterested in the work, because I couldn't get bumped up...

I am kicking myself, however, looking back. In 5th grade, I was offered to option of moving up to 7th and didn't take it because of sociopsychological issues. Yes, in 5th grade, I was concerned about my relative maturity level among kids two-three years older effecting my educational experience.
Was diagnosed by 3 diffrent doctors with add, adhd, etc, etc.

All the drugs made me worse, (ritilan, etc.)

Now i'm pharm free.

It's all in how you work with it. ADD is not a real thing, you cannot test for add, there are symptoms, but no known cause. In other words, it's no more real than any other clinically-induced psychosomatic illness.

I know i'll catch some flak for this post, but i stand by my words, as does science.


September 14 2005, 20:33:59 UTC 11 years ago

hello, i'm a special education teacher at a public school. firstly, thank you for proposing some suggestions rather than just attacking. usually we get people who wouldn't last ten minutes on our jobs ranting at us about how horrible we are, and in so doing clearly show how ignorant they are about the mechanics of what goes on in an actual classroom (rather than their theoretical world) on a day to day basis.

the system you describe is the norm at many public schools. A set of standards are defined for each grade level, and any student whose needs are not sufficiently addressed by the standards are serviced individually (be it in a special education setting, a gifted and talented setting, or both). this is actually a federal law.

a few suggestions:
- your model assumes that people learn in a linear fashion, when this isn't always true. a teacher can't assume that a student will first learn the basics and then progress towards more advanced concepts. my students routinely demonstrate advanced knowledge about a given topic, but are unaware of the basics that lead to the more advanced ideas. also, i work with many transient students who have not lead stable lives, and therefore have gaps in their knowledge base.

- deal with the realities of a multi-age classroom in a more pragmatic way. to you, it may be obvious that if one eleven-year-old can't add two numbers, it doesn't mean that he is stupid, so there's nothing wrong with putting him in a class where a majority of the students are six. but to him it's a huge deal. again, it's the theory versus reality thing. theoretically, it's lovely, but those of us who work in schools on a daily basis know what's up when it comes to realistic implementation. my classroom is a multi-age one, and trust me, nothing is that simple.

re: over-diagnosis and over-medication of add and adhd:
TOTALLY. people want quick fixes and instant answers, and if there aren't any, they invent some. and the worst part of it is that the students buy into it. they're told that they're excused, or that they're incapable of doing something, and they believe every word. i'm sorry, but the fact that you have to work four times as hard as the next person at a given task does not mean you can't do it. IT MEANS THAT YOU HAVE TO WORK FOUR TIMES AS HARD AT IT. that's life. in the real world, people don't say, "the rent on this apartment is $1000 a month, but for people with adhd it's $500." please. it makes me sick when a kid that is perfectly capable comes to me and says "you can't count spelling against me!" and he's absolutely right. it's written into his educational plan (which is a legal document) that spelling can't be counted against him. so the kid doesn't know how to spell the name of the friggin' state that he lives in. whose fault is this? this kid's spelling errors are legally protected. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING? and i'm his TEACHER and i can't do a damn thing about it. i'm not allowed to teach him to spell and expect that he apply any of what he's learned. they demand that we put the lowest expectations ever on these kids, make shitloads of excuses, and then protect those excuses legally. if a kid really and truly CAN'T do something, that's one thing, but i'm willing to go to the end of the earth with him before i'll accept that he can't. if he needs to work ten times harder, i'll be there with him every step of the way, but now we're telling kids they have adhd, so they don't have to bother to go the extra mile.

add and adhd are real. probably 10% of the people that are diagnosed with it actually have something legitimate going on neurologically/organically. and most of the people who've been diagnosed think, "i'm part of that %10!" add and adhd are cottage industries, and they've proved to be a great racket. people throw money at it ceaselessly.

If you actually have a user account/come back to check this, I would certainly be interested in chatting with you about this further. I'm very interested in speaking to an actual teacher about my plans and thoughts.