As a tutor broker and mother of three, I run into a lot of children and teenagers in my day to day activities. About 60 to 70% of the calls I get from parents whose children need a tutor are from a family who has a child who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A lot of times these children are looking for academic help and it often comes in the form of prescription ADHD medication. The child takes the medication and then he is able to focus and sit still to learn and complete homework. The statistics are alarming. 4.5 million children ages 5 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and rates of diagnosis have risen 3% a year between 1997 and 2006.
There are other alternatives to medication. In a recent ADHD study, children who watched fast paced TV shows like Sponge Bob Square Pants showed significantly higher signs of ADHD versus children who watched a realistic TV show such as Caillou. I have heard this argument about commercials on TV as well. The quick changes from one scene to the next that occur in commercials contributes to ADHD tendencies and their ability to focus in children as well. Their minds don’t know what to do with all that action and they therefore begin to behave in the fast paced manner they observed. The easy solution is to cut out most TV. If that is too difficult, monitor very closely the kinds of shows your children are watching, preferably commercial free.
Another culprit in the cause of ADHD is the toxins in our food and in our environment. Yet another ADHD study recently came out sighting pesticides found in our food can cause children to show symptoms of ADHD. The higher the level of pesticides found in the child’s urine, the higher the symptoms of ADHD that were observed. The solution here is to only eat organic produce and avoid using bug spray. There are natural bug spray alternatives available. Experts concede that organics are much more expensive, but the price is worth it in terms of future health.
I believe that children should be able to get outside and have more free play as well. When kids are required to sit at desks all day long, come home to do their homework, and sit around to watch TV all evening, no wonder they seem “hyperactive”. American society seems primed to produce children who have ADHD. Between the environmental factors and our lifestyle choices, I’m surprised more children don’t show signs of ADHD.
What do you think is causing the rise in ADHD in the U.S.? How should we as parents and educators help these children?