Let’s Talk ADD

Posted on November 7, 2011Filed Under ADD/ADHD, Me | 5 Comments

1. Raise your hand if you’ve had this exchange with a parent:

“L’il Einstein has not really been paying attention when I’m giving directions, and that’s one of the reasons he’s not doing well on…”

“Oh, that’s his ADD again! You’ll just have to…”

2. Raise your hand if you’ve been forced to fill out one of those behavioral observational forms from a doctor who want to prescribe narcotics to an 11 or 12 year old. You know, where you circle the numbers from 1-4…

“Easily distracted”  1   2  3   4

Ummm. He’s a 7th grader. Duh.

3. Raise your hand if you’ve been forced to make “accomodations” for “ADD” kids. There are only so many seats at the front of the room and only so many times I can “refocus” a kid in one period.

4. Raise your hand if you have twice as many “ADD” kids as you had ten years ago. By that I mean, “kids with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD.” Remember, you can’t call them hyper any more.

Are you tired yet?

Way back in the day, I was “diagnosed” with ADD. I don’t think it went by those initials then (they just called us hyper), but the answer was still Ritalin. And Ritalin is still speed. (The wife of the chemist who invented it had low blood pressure, and used to take it as a stimulant before she played tennis. She was named Rita…hence Ritalin.) I remember never falling asleep before midnight and never eating lunch.

And they prescribe it to kids as young as three.

The nuns doled my pill out to me and dealt with the other “hyper” kids with their yardsticks. The ones that weren’t smart enough to figure out how to hide their illicit actions from the good sisters got the special cure. Sister Enda would seat the poor sap near his bestest friends (he’s stoked, and he’s thinking that the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways), and then lie in wait for him to be tempted by the forbidden fruit.


That always seemed a lot easier to me that sitting through Dr. K’s interminable questioning. Although I did get out of school for those sessions.

I know from ADD.

I think about 10-15% of the kids on meds actually benefit. The rest are being parented by Ritalin.

I think that we’re seeing a lot more diagnoses of ADD because more and more parents are getting their kids into kindergarten early and we’re seeing more and more 11 year olds in 7th grade. Of course they’re fidgety…their eleven freakin’ years old! And I have sat through a lot of my colleagues class. No offense, but I’m fidgeting too.  Oh yeah, I have ADD.

I think many of these “ADD” kids just haven’t been taught to do school. They’ve been accommodated into helplessness. And nowadays they know the lingo, so they can push all the right buttons. Back in the day, I was humiliated when they yelled, “Go take your pill!” Now they ask if they can have some. I have variations of the following parent conversation fairly regulaly:

“So L’il Sporty plays soccer? He’s pretty good I hear. So does he have “focus” issues on the soccer field? Does he have trouble concentrating when the coach gives directions for the next inbound? Does he need his meds to stay focused? Hmmm.”


“He tells me he plays video games, and spends a lot of time on the computer. Do you find that his attention drifts while he’s doing that? That he needs to be refocused from time to time?”


(I know it’s been a long time between posts, but I’ve been playing pinball (and learning how to fix it).





5 Responses to “Let’s Talk ADD”

  1. Mrs. C (not Mr. C's wife) on November 8th, 2011 1:41 pm

    I’m not sure how to comment to this one. The teacher side of me is tired of the excuses, lack of parenting, and the accommodating every little thing. The mother side of me is playing a brand new game this year. My soon-to-be six year old is in kindergarten and was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Ritalin was prescribed and has made a huge difference at school. He’s no longer being suspended (suspended…in kindergarten…that’s a whole ‘nother issue for this teacher mama.) He is not being sent to second grade to do worksheets for an hour or two at at a time EVERY day (again …a whole post in itself for this teacher.) He is able to maintain himself without being defiant when on the medication. In his case I think the medication is working; he’s still himself, but there’s a night and day difference, if that makes any sense. Honestly, I don’t believe it is/was our parenting. Not that it has been perfect, but we’re not the type of parents to ignore bad behavior. If anything I feel he’s been punished a little too much. 😉

    So I’m on the fence with this one…I think each case is something to be looked at individually.

  2. mrC on November 8th, 2011 6:15 pm

    Your boy is obviously in that other 15%. I too have seen major behavioral improvements in some kids. It can work miracles in some cases. I do actually remember one in particular from my early days. That was one doctor form I filled out completely, and I actually had to lobby the parents to go for it.

    So I essentially agree with you, but I see kids being medicated at the drop of a hat these days…and this year just seems to be a bit worse than usual. SO I’ve been a little crabby. Also… I broke a drop target on my new (actually 30 years old, but new to me) pinball machine that night, so I was a bit sad too. 😉

  3. Katie Sauer on November 8th, 2011 8:11 pm

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I have spent the last hour that should have been dedicated to grading reading your blogs instead. Not that I need a good excuse to avoid grading, but knowing that someone out there has the same twisted view of teaching 7th grade as I do? Absolutely worth it! Thanks for some fabulous ideas and many laughs!

  4. Meg on November 9th, 2011 7:52 pm

    I get annoyed with the excuse making too. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 10, but never put on meds. Instead, I had a very rigid schedule with regular exercise breaks to get my energy out; I still have to do that to keep my focus now.

    I agree with you. People are dolling out pills at the drop of a hat and expecting it to ‘fix’ everything (some kids it’s great for, but a lot it doesn’t do anything). ADHD can be taken care of without meds. It takes time, but teaching the child how to deal with it will help them in the long run, even if you need to use meds in conjunction with that.

  5. Amanda on November 10th, 2011 11:46 am

    Great post. I just had a conversation with the teacher who had my class last year. She told me that a student I have has ADD when it comes to organization and some medication would help. This is a student who will spend 2-3 hours a night reading a novel. This is a student who stays up until 2AM on the computer. Not lacking focus in my opinion….lacking motivation.

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