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The ADHD Controversy - Boardman, McCartney, Sherry & Williams

This project was made for EDUC106, where we posed the question: Does ADHD actually exist, and if so what are the implications of it in the classroom

Georgia McCartney

on 2 November 2014

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Transcript of The ADHD Controversy - Boardman, McCartney, Sherry & Williams

Georgia McCartney . Lucy Boardman . Carrie Williams . Paul Sherry
Environmental Factors
The overexposure of technology (e.g. TV, iPad and video games) has increased diagnoses of ADHD at an "alarming rate". (18)
The increase in technology usage parallels the increase in ADHD diagnoses.
Genetics is responsible for 65-75% of ADHD symptoms. (12)
Results from several international studies of twins show that ADHD often runs in families. (16)
According to
The Conversation
(2014), boys are four times more likely to have ADHD than girls.
ADHD is seen to be more prevalent in boys because girls are seen to be more "developmentally robust". (13)

EDUC106: CIC Task
The huge increase in prescribing drugs to treat children with ADHD has led to a "new black market in drugs" in Australian schools. Some children prescribed Ritalin who do not like the effects of the drug sell it to others who use it recreationally for "speed-like purposes". Abuse of the drug by children who do not have ADHD
"is right through the country". (11)
Regular rigorous physical exercise can increase the brain's capacity for willpower and emotional self-control. (6) For US swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of 22 Olympic medals and probably the most famous person in the world with ADHD, the pool was a place to burn off excess energy. A teacher once told his mother: "Your son will never be able to focus on anything." However, children with ADHD are capable of intense concentration on activities they find regarding. (7)
Other examples of elite athletes with ADHD who say they channeled their tremendous energy as children, and later as adults, into sporting success: British gymnast Louis Smith and Canadian rower Adam Kreek (7).
Other treatments
Symptom Checklist

Implications of ADHD in the classroom
According to a study published in the journal
, children who are overstimulated by media/technology are twice as likely to have ADHD symptoms. (19)

Maternal smoking, the most commonly cited prenatal risk, and maternal stress are both associated with ADHD offspring. (16)
A 2010 study found a 35% increase in the odds of a child developing ADHD with every tenfold increase in urinary concentration of dialkyl phosphates, a pesticide residue. (2)
Recent research from Britain indicates a link between consumption of certain food additives (e.g. artificial colours, preservatives) and an increase in activity, a prime symptom of ADHD. (16)
According to Wallach and Lan (2011, p. 285), individuals with ADHD are highly sensitive to both processed and natural sugars.
A 2014 study found that women who take paracetamol while pregnant had a 37% higher risk of having a child who would be diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, a severe from of ADHD. (1)
The first evidence of a direct genetic link to ADHD was uncovered in 2010, when researchers found children with the disorder were likelier to have particular segments of DNA missing or duplicated in their genome. The findings suggested ADHD was not purely a social construct, and that it was caused not by a single genetic change but a number of them interacting with unidentified environmental factors. (3)
Charles Bradley discovered in 1937 that children with attention deficit and hyperactivity responded well to stimulant drugs. The most common treatment for ADHD is one such drug, Ritalin. Prescriptions for it have exploded; there has been a 72% increase in Australia between 2000 and 2011, leading to fears of an "epidemic of misdiagosis". (10)
Some of the more "imaginative" non-pharmaceutical techniques used to treat ADHD include herbal supplements; complicated exercise regimes that target specific areas of the brain; magnetic mattresses; personal coaches; dolphin-assisted therapy; and, for the "ultra-restless" child, wearing lead vests to weigh them down. (4)
Classroom management: suggested teacher strategies

- Optional ''standing'' desks
- option to change desks
- Seat student at front of room, away from windows and keep student's desk free of clutter to minimise distractions
- Seat student near teacher or with students who are able to work independently
- Create a sign code so student can communicate with teacher needs
- Do not punish constantly if student can't finish a task. Give them something else to do, such as cleaning up.
- Use same structure for each lesson so
student can centre themselves for the lesson
- Keep activities brief or structure longer tasks into short blocks
- Allow for regular rest breaks
- Present one activity at a time
- Keep instructions brief/write them on board and provide the student with a copy
-Regain attention by asking unrelated questions
-H ave a standby class teacher ready if you need to send the student away to concentrate
- Do activities requiring attention in the morning
- Incorporate physical movement into each lesson
- Keep in contact with the parents and other teachers regarding changes/improvements in behaviour
- Keep a ''communication diary'' that the student can scribble and write notes in as an outlet for excess energy
- Move around the classroom to deliver lessons to keep attention
- Keep a positive, encouraging classroom at all times
- Give student responsibilities within the classroom so they can
be encouraged
- Have a structured conflict resolution process in place
A pedagogical technique that positively impacts the academic performance of students with ADHD is to encourage them to focus on doing their personal best, instead of competing with other students. This helps to alleviate anxiety and low self-esteem, and improves student engagement, homework completion, persistence and planning. (5)
Further classroom implications
Some teachers have found the use of pharmaceutcial treatments to control ADHD in the classroom has turned fun-loving, boisterous children into ''zombie'' students who sit in class and do not succeed as well academically, despite being ''easier to manage''.
Further classroom implications
Teaching a child with ADHD requires a lot of patience and trial and error.
This may take its toll on the teacher, and potentially other students in the classroom who are not receiving equal attention.

Teachers should keep in mind they are not alone and can ask other teachers for pointers and health professionals, such as counselors, for advice.

The pressure of a heavy workload, large class sizes and behaviour management issues means teachers can fall away from using these strategies at times. It is easy to say that if we can engage students, behaviour management will not be a problem.
It is hard to get it right all the time
Something to keep in mind ...



Richard Saul says ADHD does not exist. He believes people are misdiagnaosed with ADHD for exhibiting normal levels of distractedness and impulsiveness, or their ADHD symptoms are the result of other conditions, such as poor eyesight or hearing, sleep deprivation, bipolar disorder and learning difficulties. "Usually, once the original condition is found and treated, the ADHD symptoms go away," Dr Saul says. (9)
The earliest reference to ADHD in medical literature can be found in a short chapter in a 1775 medical textbook by a German physician that describes attention disorders. (8)
The great debate: what some experts say
What is ADHD: A short film clip
US Olympian Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Swimming helped him manage his symptoms.
Personal Best
What ADHD is : A short film

Australia and the US use the DSM (the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

European countries use the ICD-10, (the International Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders), published by the World Health Organisation

The current fifth edition was published in May 2013
This edition revised its previous diagnosis of ADHD to say that symptoms could be displayed until the age of 12, rather than 6.

Diagnosis of ADHD is based on age and IQ.
Both diagnostic resources stress the importance of these symptoms being presented in more than one environment (for example, home and school)
Often does not give close attention to details
Often has trouble keeping attention
Often does not seem to listen
Often does not follow through on instructions
Often has trouble organizing activities
Often avoids things that take a lot of mental effort
Often loses things needed for tasks and activities
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities
Often fidgets or squirms in seat
Often gets up from seat
Often excessively runs about or climbs
Often has trouble playing or doing leisure activities quietly
Is often hyperactive
Often talks excessively
Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
Often has trouble waiting one's turn
Often interrupts others
"Not a single individual — not even the person who finds it close to impossible to pay attention or sit still — is afflicted by the disorder called ADHD."
US behavioural neurologist Richard Saul
"There are ... many, many children who are suffering problems that aren't diagnosed."

Professor Mark Dadds

Some of the alternative therapies being used to treat symptoms of ADHD

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