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.