Volume 14, Number 3
Paying Attention to ADHD
Successful classroom management means training teachers to better serve students with ADHD
Paying Attention to ADHD, continued
Over the past decade, the number of U.S. schoolchildren diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its related form, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), has increased dramatically. At the same time, recent changes in federal laws mandate that schools provide extra support to ADHD students in both regular and special education classes.
Much debate has focused on whether society has been too quick to overdiagnose and medicate children, most commonly with a stimulant called Ritalin. Many educators "are not really aware of the condition and how to diagnose it," says Edward Hallowell, an instructor in psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. "There are places where half the class has been diagnosed with ADD, or school systems where it's looked upon as the plague and no one is diagnosed with it."
Some educators worry that the sharp upswing in diagnoses is due to overeagerness by health-care professionals to apply the ADHD label to children deemed unruly or disruptive. For example, Thomas Armstrong, an education consultant and former special-education teacher, fears that schools and parents sometimes put children on drugs instead of examining whether changes in classroom management and curriculum might improve their behavior and performance. "Are so-called ADD kids abnormal because they have trouble concentrating in a linear, monotonous, stimulus-poor, assembly-line classroom?" Armstrong asks.
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