Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What is ADHD?

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is among the most controversial and troublesome of educational and child health issues of our day.

Gaining an understanding of ADHD is only made more difficult by the controversy that surrounds it.

The National Institute of Mental Health says this:
  • "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that becomes apparent in some children in the preschool and early school years. It is hard for these children to control their behavior and/or pay attention. It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of children have ADHD, or approximately 2 million children in the United States. This means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD."
Oh, if it was that simple...

Let me list some of the difficulties faced in a discussion of ADHD:
  • The subjectivity of ADHD's symptoms, the difficult nature of diagnosing it.
  • The vested interests that educators are sometimes perceived as having as they contribute to the diagnosis of ADHD.
  • The pliability of the average family doctor when faced with parents who seem to want (or not want) such a diagnosis.
  • The risks and controversies associated with medicines for the disorder.
All of these have made ADHD one of the most troublesome of medical and educational issues.

The problem is simple. Most professionals agree that ADHD exists (which is also to say that there are some in the field who don't agree that the disorder is even real). The main symptoms are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity; but these can all be caused by some other problem and exist to some lesser extent in perfectly normal children. And the symptoms develop over time. A child may exhibit one of the symptoms, that symptom may get worse over a course of months (or years), and then other symptoms may emerge.

To confuse the issue even further, ADHD comes in three different types, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR). There are kids who are predominately hyperactive, kids who are predominately inattentive, and kid who have combined those first two types.

Some absolute standards do exist in the diagnosis of ADHD. First, the child has to have exhibited the symptoms of ADHD before age seven. And those symptoms have to have continued for at least six months. In addition, the behaviors must be bad enough to create "a real handicap" in at least two areas of the child's life. So if the child's only problem is school, it's almost certainly not ADHD. To be ADHD, the symptoms have to create problems in the sandbox at the park or at home, as well. The symptoms have to be "excessive, long-term, and pervasive."

The NIMH's page has much more on diagnosing ADHD.

A number of good resources on ADHD exist online. Among them:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The 2008 President Race - Some Tidbits...

You've all probably heard the joke about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac who used to lie awake in bed at night and wonder if there was a dog. But did you know he was running for president? Okay, I don't really know how well Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) sleeps at night. And he's a Unitarian, not an Agnostic. But he is dyslexic.

There's a lot we don't know about this batch of presidential candidates. The information is out there; it just doesn't seem to float to the top very often. Maybe that's because it doesn't really matter much (or matters less tan it used to, at least). Here's another example....

Almost everyone is away that candidate Mitt Romney (R-Mass.)is a Mormon. What rarely gets mentioned is that the wife of candidate Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Jackie Marie Clegg Dodd, is also a Mormon. Dodd's father was a U.S. Senator. In 1970, Dodd, a Catholic, married his father's speech writer, Susan Mooney. They divorced in 1982. Dodd dated for 17 years; his romantic interests included Bianca Jagger (Ex-wife of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger) and Carrie Fisher (who player Princess Leia in Start Wars). The in 1999 he married Clegg.

If you had to guess which presidential candidate was the bass player for a band that had opened for or played with stars like Willie Nelson, REO Speedwagon, Charlie Daniels, Alabama, and Grand Funk Railroad, who would you pick? Would it confuse you more if I told you the candidate was a Republican? Mike Huckabee is the answer. The former Arkansas governor is a blues and rock band leader as well as an ordained Southern Baptist minister (he went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas).

There are 17 declared candidate in the two major parties. Where did your favorite go to college?

Hillary (D-NY) went to an all-girls school, Wellesley College, before doing her law degree at Yale (ironically, the alma mater of our current president). On the other hand, Romney, Obama (D-Ill.), and GOP hopeful Alan Keyes all get their last degree at Harvard. So will the fact that Harvard beat Yale this year make a difference in the campaign?

Here's a list:

  • Joe Biden when to the University of Delaware and did his law degree at Syracuse University.
  • Chris Dodd went to Providence College before doing his law degree at the University of Louisville.
  • John Edwards (D-NC) started at Clemson, graduate from North Carolina State, and did his law degree at the University of North Carolina.
  • Rudi Giuliani (R-NY) went to Manhattan College and on to New York University School of Law.
  • Mike Gravel went to Columbia University.
  • Mike Huckabee did his undergraduate work at Ouachita Baptist University.
  • Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) got his BA and his law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
  • Alan Keyes did his undergraduate work at Cornell.
  • Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) went to Case Western Reserve University.
  • John McCain (R-AZ) went to the Naval Academy.
  • Ron Paul (R-Texas) went to Gettysburg College before getting his medical degree from Duke.
  • Romney attended Stanford, but ended up doing his undergraduate work at Brigham Young.
  • Obama finished up his undergraduate work at Columbia University before going on to Harvard.
  • Bill Richardson (D-NM) went to Tufts University.
  • Tom Tancredo (R-CO) went to the University of Northern Colorado.
  • Fred Thompson (R-TN) got his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis and did his law degree at Vanderbilt.
That's eleven lawyers, one doctor, two soldier, one minister, one Peace Corp volunteer, one real live knight, one actor, and one real estate agent.

Other tidbits worth mentioning:

Ron Paul is a Republican, but he is also a member of the Libertarian Party. Bill Richardson was a French major in college. Mitt Romney's father ran for president in 1968. Duncan Hunter won a Bronze Star in Nam as an Army Ranger and went to college on the GI Bill. Rudi Giuliani was knighted by Quenn Elizabeth. And Fred Thompson was the GOP mole in the Watergate Hearings.