Hot Tips & Topics

We are dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive collection of relevant and up-to-date K-12 education news and editorials. For teachers, by teachers.

EDITORIAL: Too Many Children Being Diagnosed as 'Hyper'

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Too Many Children Being Diagnosed as 'Hyper' As much as teaching has changed over the past 50 years, its basics, as typically applied in American elementary school classrooms, are essentially the same as they were in 1963.

Two dozen boys and girls, give or take a few, sit in arranged rows or a circle of chairs with desks and interact with a teacher presenting lessons involving reading or math.

The routine is repeated class after class, hour after hour.

That could get boring 50 years ago, leading students to nod off, gaze out the window, pass notes, or trade punches when the teacher looked the other way.

Related Articles
Using classroom management to create a classroom newsletter allows you to send the same message to all of your students’ parents at the same time.
Using classroom management to create a classroom newsletter allows you to send...
How to motivate students to actively participate in classroom discussions.
How to motivate students to actively participate in classroom discussions.
Classroom management tips on how to hold a student-teacher conference.
Classroom management tips on how to hold a student-teacher conference.
Teaching strategies to to transform your current lesson plan into one aligned with depth of knowledge guidelines.
Teaching strategies to to transform your current lesson plan into one aligned...
Ways you can bring 9/11 into your classroom space constructively.
Ways you can bring 9/11 into your classroom space constructively.

Imagine how much more boring it must be for today's children, who the night before, if not that morning, were likely engaged in all manner of electronically stimulating activity -- from watching TV, to downloading I-pad games, to trying to beat their PlayStation at tennis.

Is it any wonder that many children who come to school with their minds so stimulated find it hard to concentrate on the monotonous spiel of an adult equipped with few props beyond a chalkboard to draw their interest?

Some children, boys in particular, find it hard to sit quietly under such circumstances, hard not to be rambunctious when they don't get a recess to help burn off some energy.

Sometimes children, again, boys in particular, act up so often a teacher insists their behavior is abnormal and recommends medical intervention. Some children, maybe too many, are subsequently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

More than one in 10 American schoolchildren, 6.4 million between ages 4 and 17, have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two-thirds of these children have been prescribed drugs like Adderall and Ritalin to calm them down by improving their concentration.

It's not known whether a recently reported 41 percent increase in ADHD diagnoses since 2003 is due to more parents and teachers recognizing a child has a problem that requires medical treatment or because parents, teachers, and physicians, too often apply the ADHD label to a child who is overly active for reasons that don't require a prescription.

There's no blood test for ADHD, so that diagnosis is typically based on observation alone.

With so many children on ADHD drugs -- including one in 10 high school boys -- easy access has led to the drugs' abuse. Teens sell Adderall to other teens to get high. Younger children, whose schools in most cases don't give them recess to let off steam, are instead doped up.

It is becoming increasingly clear that many diagnoses of hyperactivity in children are being made too quickly, and that when ADHD is diagnosed, more care must be taken in prescribing and monitoring the use of drugs.

___