Type: Exploratory
Pages: 4 | Words: 930
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Labeling children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a common practice nowadays. The scope of the problem is threatening, since even the youngest children carry this label, as early as in a kindergarten. According to Szabo (2010), “nearly one million children with fall birthdays may have been misdiagnosed with ADHD,” not on the grounds of really existing behavior problems but the youngest age. Researchers from Michigan State University found out that the ratio of being labeled with ADHD increases for the youngest in their grades up to 60%. Another study conducted at North Carolina State University, highlighted that about 4.5 million children have the ADHD diagnosis. Nonetheless, it should be born in mind that misdiagnosing children with ADHD or abusing this label may have a devastating effect on children’s psyche and challenge their future.

As Gray (2010) puts it, the problem of the ADHD label is rather controversial, since the latter is applied to two extremely different types of children. One type is really hyperactive. These children are deeply absorbed into their wishes and do what they want regardless of whether their interests overlap with those of other children. The ADHD label is applied to them not because they are difficult to attend to but because they cannot cope with enforced boredom. The other type embraces simply physically active children who cannot quiet down when needed. The School Meeting or Judicial Committee may eject those children that score high on Disturbingly Noisy activities and cannot control themselves.

Potential threats of ADHD labeling are succinctly summarized by Dr Linda Graham, who mentions that “It is especially problematic when children can end up with an “informal” diagnosis which becomes a kind of pop-culture explanation for why children behave in certain ways.” She does not neglect the possibility of ADHD-like behaviors but emphasizes that “it is not good to use ADHD as a label to describe them, as it doesn’t offer teachers and schools an adequate road map with how to proceed in helping a child through school.” Similar labeling can only influence children negatively when it comes to the ways others perceive them. To illustrate, Graham cites the case of one boy who had learning difficulties and speech problems from the age of six. Schools would label his behavior ADHD-like, implying his hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness.

As a matter of fact, the boy did not have ADHD but was language and speech-impaired, which explained his explosiveness: physical attack of others was a substitute for verbal responses. “However, because of the red-herring effect of ADHD, this was misinterpreted as impulsivity with terrible, long-lasting consequences for the boy concerned.” Informal diagnoses impose certain patterns of behavior on a child so that teachers, who are unwilling to read through the lines and only stick to labels blindly, are reluctant to work with a “mentally impaired child.” To the detriment of children, labels erode teachers’ instinctive intuition and the individualised approach to learning.

Labeling children with ADHD is often an excuse for schools’ inability to accept a child as an individual and adjust to its individual needs. Diversity is not allowed. If children do not accept established teaching standards and methods, they are instantly labeled with a “mental health problem.” Labels of this kind can make the situation only worse: child’s progress can be hindered and he/she can develop a low self-esteem, which has long-term detrimental effects. Furthermore, ADHD diagnoses cause severe drug abuse, with parents shifting from Strattera and Concerta to Ritalin and Adderall. Although this medicine can help children to overcome their ADHD problems to some extent, no one can object to the fact that “Ritalin can cause brain damage if prescribed incorrectly”. Other side effects include “being awake until very late at night, a glazed look in one’s eyes, a small rash on one’s thighs, etc.”. That is why the better solution for children either with reasonable or illusory ADHD labels is to change conventional schooling for home-schooling.

The point is that learning at home teaches children to cope with ADHD characteristics, since out of school, a child can be self-directed and active without posing a disruptive threat to other pupils. The absence of a furious teacher enables children to learn how to cope with their individual characteristics in a calm friendly atmosphere. Gray (2010) has gathered a considerable number of examples proving that home-schooling turns previously abnormal children into wise, active, and socially competent individuals. For instance, some children may simply require moving to learn well. To others, schooling at home gives an excellent opportunity to study deeply what they are really interested in.

Making their own decisions on what, when, and how to study helps ADHD-labeled children tremendously. The freedom to be themselves is all a child needs to thrive in any sphere, and schools fail dismally at fulfilling this task. Such routine traditional school issues as tests, boring books, and even constant noise and smell in school can be perceived by some children as an encroachment on their private space and freedom. Tests increase anxiety, boring books attract no attention, constant noise and smell make a child even more anxious — and the ADHD label is pinned. When these conditions are removed, a child literally blooms.

All things considered, it can be reasonably claimed that schools rashly label children with ADHD, which is detriment to their psychological well-being. Schools tend to neglect the fact that every child is individuality and cannot be squeezed into the same frames. Drug addiction is also not the best way of coping with ADHD symptoms. What really matters is allowing children to be themselves and make their own choices.

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