Over-diagnosed Kids

Jacob Scharf 
RINF Alternative News

As children, I think most people have been told by a teacher or loved one that they are lacking in a particular area. Inevitably we see physicians and parents throwing medicine and titles at these kids. ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, and many more.

According to the CDC the percent of people being diagnosed with ADHD has risen by almost 5% in the past 10 years. Beckoning the question, how have we allowed this epidemic to increasingly sweep our country’s children yearly? Well, I hope you can focus long enough to read my explanation.

As a college student I’m constantly hearing complaints from friends, satirical or real, of ADD. But, consider the implication of that. The student doesn’t necessarily care about the diagnosis of being “inattentive”; rather he/she cares about the treatment. As I see it, more kids are pleading ‘unfocused’ because of the effects of drugs like Ritalin on their body. Let’s be pragmatic for a moment, if you implicitly tell people that there’s a ‘magic’ drug that will enhance your performance in school, they’d be stupid not to try to get that drug, right?

For those who don’t believe this is a serious issue, allow me to offer you a personal story.

As a kid, I used to spell my name backwards. Bocaj, a possible sign of dyslexia or a cute nickname? You decide. Nevertheless, teachers would feel as though my reading and writing capabilities were not up to par with the rest of the class. Personally, I never felt this was a serious rettam. Yes, that was a joke. Still, friends would tell me to consider their drug of choice. As I understood it, drugs should only be distributed to the sick. Close-minded, huh? Well, let’s dive in, shall we?

If your friend or child has been “diagnosed” with ADD consider what that entails. Simply put, he/she has attention problems. So, because this kid isn’t focusing well, some will look for the “easy” answer, medication. So, does anyone see a gap in their problem solving? Kids, who are constantly developing their intellect, should never be given medicine haphazardly. Take me for example. I struggled with reading and writing as a kid. My mother didn’t even want to believe that I was a lefty so she forced me to write with my right hand for months. True story. Nevertheless, my mother is a testament to the fact that we don’t always need to resort to medication to solve our kid’s “attention span” problems.

My transparency should help you understand this impending crisis going on in our country. Why does it make sense to make biologically changing our children a first resort? Well, it doesn’t.
Let’s be pragmatic here for just a moment. Kids are inattentive, right? So, should we begin distributing Ritalin along with their Flintstones Vitamins? No.

From my observations, this inattentiveness may be attributed to “overscheduling” and “helicopter parenting”.
Here’s a hypothetical, but more importantly satirical, child’s daily schedule. Up at 630 for school at 730. Schools until 3pm. Music lessons till 5. Sports till 730. Then, come home to parents who question their focus in school. See a pattern yet?

For those who see this as a PSA for children who might not be able to vocalize their distress, good. Parents are burning a candle for their children at both ends. As parent’s expectations for their children rise drastically, there’s a negative correlation to their child’s attention span. When anticipations for kids to participate in numerous different activities rises; their ability to perform with precision begins to, inevitably, decline.
To quote one of my favorite comedians, Goerge Carlin, who refers to parents in today’s society as, “parents who enroll you in college before you’ve figured out which side of the playpen smells the worst and then fill you with Ritalin to get you in a mood they approve of…” The sound of euphoria in your ears is not a sign of a possible stroke; it’s poetry in motion.

Dolphins. Now, that I’ve got your attention let me conclude my seemingly inappropriate rant. By no means am I implying that no children should be treated medically for ADD ADHD or any other learning disability; but there is a need for speculation in regards to over diagnosing some children.
So, I will not leave you with a cliché statement like “children are our future, we should embrace them”. Rather, I leave you with panache. Actor Martin Mull once said, “Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain”.

Jacob Scharf–Queens College Student