Monday, September 19, 2011

If School Was Causing Your Child’s ADD / ADHD Would You Remove Him?

During a recent conversation with friends and family, the topic of ADHD / ADD came up and I shared my belief that this is not a disease that should result in people being drugged, but instead a personality type (like mine!) that should be honored.  My friends and family looked at me stunned.  They wondered how an educator like me didn’t know better as this new epidemic was clearly documented as a disease.  I then found out that a few of those among us had been drugged or had been responsible for drugging their children.  They were offended by my words! Fortunately, I'm used to this. 

Like most who are victims of the immoral pharma marketing campaigns,the school and doctor-approved drugs were the treatment of choice.  Of course, since my partner is a pharma rep, I know the “doctor-approved” scam.  These docs get paid a bundle by the pharma companies to promote their drugs to schools.  I also know the the school view.  When kids are drugged, the school’s job is easier.  Of course they want that.  I asked if they had tried any of the the 20 things I shared in my Fix the Schools, Not the Child guide before resorting to drugs. Nope!  Why bother? Drugging the kid was working.  

When I dug a little deeper into my own family member's story I learned some interesting things.  For instance, he didn’t like how the drugs made him feel at all.  He admitted that if he hadn’t been forced to sit and listen all day he likely wouldn’t have needed drugs. This was evidenced by that fact that once he graduated, miraculously, he no longer needed the drugs. Once he was able to have ownership of his days, time, thinking, creating, he never felt a need for the drugs. He explained their importance in the unnatural world of school where there are worksheets, and reading boring things for hours to take tests for schools falsely purporting to prepare him for a world that ironically never actually required you to sit and cram to take tests.    

I asked my family, what if you knew that removing yourself/your child from the traditional school setting would eliminate their need to be on drugs?  Would you consider that?  I’m kind of the black sheep in my family, and they shook their heads looking at me as though I had lost my mind and was proposing something ridiculous.  I shared that I had actually written a guide for teens to opt out of school and find success, and that this could have been a better alternative for my drugged family members. This just didn’t seem to be something they could get their heads around or take seriously, so I let the conversation drop and their opinions of me as the black sheep who always promoted alternative life options remained.  I do think some agreed with me and wanted to know more, but didn't have my thick skin necessary to endure the attacks that resulted from my ideas.

If you are like those members of my family and can’t (or are afraid to) consider alternatives to school over drugging your ADHD-diagnosed child, then the rest of this article is not for you.  If you are interested, however, in learning what parents found when they sought out alternatives to school and drugs for their children, you’ll appreciate the rest of this post.

Dr. Peter Gray explains that what I witnessed with my family was to be expected.  He shares that as a culture we are so used to thinking of school as the normative environment for children that we rarely even think about the possibility of children learning and developing well outside of that environment. Because the thought is foreign to many, it is not surprising that Dr. Peter Gray did the first known study concerning ADHD-diagnosed children's abilities to learn, and to cope without drugs, outside of the conventional school environment.  

His findings should be shared with any parent who is considering the option of drugging their child.  

Conclusion 1:
Most children who had been medicated for ADHD while in conventional schooling were taken off of the drugs when removed from conventional schooling, and those who were never in conventional schooling were never medicated.

Conclusion 2:
The children's behavior, moods, and learning generally improved when they stopped conventional schooling, not because their ADHD characteristics vanished but because they were now in a situation where they could learn to deal with those characteristics.

Conclusion 3: Many of these children seem to have a very high need for self-direction in education, and many "hyper focus" on tasks that interest them.

If parents and educators knew that a change in environment could greatly reduce a child’s need to be medicated, would they choose this option despite the fact that it was less convenient?  I’ve written and talked about this issue extensively, and have found that in most cases drugs are choice #1 and rather than discuss a change in environment adults choose to defend their choice to drug their children. They insist that I should understand that they are right because what they are doing works. They have doctors and teachers telling them they are doing what is right and so they have found their excuse to do what is most convenient.  But what are they really doing?  They are drugging their child so they can endure a difficult environment that does not honor who they are to make things easier for everyone rather than adapting to the child's needs and at the same time stunting his potential.  That said, there are some who have let down their defenses and listened to and considered alternative options.  I applaud these parents who at least try and consider alternatives.  

I have heard few adults today speak out against the drugs they were forced to take.  They were embarrassed and they don’t want to put down parents who were trying to do their best.  However, parents, if you don’t consider options, you might have your child grow up with thoughts like the ones below. I am sharing and paraphrasing sentiments from a member of my PLN who I think many parents can learn from.

I wish MY parents had been wise about dangers of ADHD meds.  Maybe if they had, I wouldn't have had all the problems that followed from the meds! :(

Maybe if I had been lucky enough to be cared for by someone who understood me for who I was, I would not have been put on Ritalin (and eventually the dozen other drugs) and gone through all the problems including NUMEROUS suicide attempts & self-mutilation (cutting) episodes and losing most of high school as a result, and my life today might have been RADICALLY DIFFERENT, and better!

If alternatives had been considered for me, maybe I wouldn't have/have had so many problems, and become an adult living on disability income.................. :(
Parents and teachers, please think twice about taking the easy way out and drugging children. If you consider the alternatives, you may be the one that saves the children of our future from a life’s worth of pain and suffering mentioned in the tiny print that those pharma companies don’t spend much time telling you about. 

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