As a teacher I have been worried, horrified is more the word, by the rapidly growing number of students/ pupils labeled ADD and ADHD.
Why so many? Why so many more nowadays?
I work with people of all ages from 8 – 28, but the vast majority of those with ADD are aged between 8 – 15 years.
In every branch of society there are children who suffer from the chemical imbalance which causes ADD and ADHD, but I wondered whether there was another form of ADD which is caused, not by a chemical imbalance, but by the environment in which a child grows.
I work with non-religious, religious and ultra orthodox children and ADD is much more prevalent amongst the non-religious and religious population than with the ultra-orthodox. This led me to wonder what was specifically different about the home life of the ultra orthodox and the BIG answer is television, or rather the lack of it.
I have always thought that a child who sits passively glued to a flickering moving screen for hours on end, from an early age, cannot remain unaffected. Their brains, minds, ability to interact with other children, play games, read and write are all affected by this ‘mindless babysitter’
I’m not alone in my feelings. The magazine PEDIATRICS reported on a study conducted so see if there was a link between television and ADD and found that:
The study revealed that each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7. The study controls for other attributes of the home environment including cognitive stimulation and emotional support.
The findings also suggest that preventive action can be taken to minimize the risk of attention problems in children. Limiting young children’s exposure to television during the formative years of brain development, consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations, may reduce a child’s subsequent risk of developing ADHD. The AAP recommends parents avoid letting their children under the age of 2 years watch television.
ADD/ ADHD can’t be cured, only controlled, if you find the right help for your child.
And for those who suffer from ADD and ADHD, whatever the reason, our society seems to be convinced that they have to be calmed down and pacified in some way to make life easier for the teacher.
Sir Ken Robinson has other ideas – as he usually does – about how to treat hyperactive children.
Watch this illustrated / animated video of his latest thoughts on educational paradigms.