|My heart goes out to those children who have been labeled
"ADHD" ("attention-deficit and hyperactivity
disorder"), the latest "learning disability" label.
Many educators and researchers now believe that these children and
their families have been profoundly deceived by the use of these
labels. Dr. Thomas Armstrong, a former learning disabilities
specialist, changed professions when he "began to see how this
notion of learning disabilities was handicapping all of our children
by placing the blame for a child's learning failure on mysterious
neurological deficiencies in the brain instead of on much needed
reforms in our system of education."
"ADD" and "ADHD" are fictions. They are nothing
less than self-fulfilling pseudo-diagnoses, used as an excuse to give
children powerful drugs so they can be fitted into the unnatural
environment of a classroom. Overburdened teachers, and parents made
anxious by the school institution, have unrealistic and unfair
expectations about what a "normal" child should be able to
do. The high energy of many young children - especially boys - is
normal for a healthy child. A child's natural energy is something to
celebrate, not a problem that we need to fix with mind-altering drugs.
It is only a problem when we force children into a boring environment
where they have little voice or power.
The abnormality is in the school, not in the child. It is normal
and natural for a healthy child to be active and energetic, much more
so than our society wants us to believe (see "The
Child Who Never Sits Still" by Robert Mendelsohn).
Subjective and unreliable behavioral observations by those who hold
to society's skewed expectations of what
"normal" behavior should look like in a classroom (meaning,
behavior that meets the needs of the teacher and ignores the needs of
the child) is a far cry from a "diagnosis". As neurologist
Fred Baughman wrote: "Twenty five years of research, not
deserving of the term 'research', has failed to validate ADD/ADHD as a
disease." And the "cure" is so dangerous. Ritalin is a
form of speed, with many potential dangers and side effects - even
death. As reported by The Australian, "Children as young as five
have suffered strokes, heart attacks, hallucinations and convulsions
after taking drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity
If ADD and ADHD were true diseases, surely they would be found in
the same proportion in all populations of children. Yet neither of
these so-called "diseases" are seen in homeschooling
families unless the child has recently been in school. Homeschooling
parents would have no reason to force unnatural behavior like sitting
still for long periods or studying something that is of little
interest to them that day. Compassionate parents understand and
celebrate a child's natural energy and enthusiasm. In such an
environment, there are no "learning disorders". The National
Institutes of Health admitted in 1998, "... We do not have
an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate
that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction."
It is one of our society's greatest ironies that the same educators
who admonish children to "just say no" to drugs
are at the same time handing out powerful drugs to millions of
children for a fictional disorder in an attempt to counter the very
normal reactions of healthy children to an abnormal environment.
The fault is not within our children, but in our society's
attitudes toward them. A healthy child is naturally active, curious,
and even rambunctious. When will we let a 6-year-old act like a
6-year-old and not expect him to act like he's 36? When will we let
children be children?