We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

04 October 2006

ADHD and fishy technology..

The more I read about attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), the more I wonder about whether it can actually be 'cured' as a disorder in itself. Appartently the medical profession doesn't really know an exact cause or link, but have identified certain brain functioning issues, possible genetic links, too much sugar etc. It is true that there are kids and adults too definitely suffering from the group of symptoms that have been defined to characterise ADHD, but there doesn't seem to be one cure-all approach. I'm thinking this way as I've just read about a new book by an Australian researcher, Dr. Brenton Prosser, titled ADHD: Who's failing who?
Although I haven't read the book yet (i have to order it from the publisher to get it here), I've read the media release.

Dr. Proesser says that at different times throughout human history, the behaviour we now call ADHD would not have presented the problems it does today. He says "In an era when work meant burning up physical energy on a farm or in a workshop, rather than sitting at a workstation using your head, you wonder if hyperactivity would have made any headlines at all". This makes me consider the contribution of pharmaceutical big business in labelling 'behaviours' and 'conditions' in order to provide us with a 'remedy', except its rarely a remedy at all when you consider the host of side effects of most prescription medicine.

The premise of the book challenges the emphasis on medication as the primary treatment for ADHD, which has seen the prescription of Ritalin skyrocket in Australia, which isn't surprising as its also increasing here in the UK, and of course America. Recent reports have also indicated that Ritalin contributes to suicide, suicidal thoughts and heart attacks in children. Dr. Prosser argues for a sociological approach to solving the problems experienced by ADHD sufferers. I feel very much in agreement with this idea, as I have now witnessed a classroom full of 30 kids (the norm nowadays)and it is so unsettling, its a wonder anyone can concentrate. I'm really heading back to homeschooling..anyone who says children need school for proper 'socialization' have not observed said children in the playground. There's nothing 'social' about it. More like mad monkeys in a cage..

Dr. Prosser goes on to say "If we ask only medical questions about ADHD, we will get only medical answers and more drug treatment. It seems to me that what we now call a disorder could be blamed at least partly on a mismatch between the natural diversity of human behaviours and a world in which these behaviours no longer fit". I can see the relevance of this in terms of technology. If we think about it, our children are growing up in a very fast-paced technological world, and the schools themselves are actively trying to embrace the technology at very young ages, with the idea that they are preparing the children for the world we live in. Waldorf/Steiner education bucks this idea completely. No computers, video games or even TV are allowed in the schools, and not encouraged for children under 10 years of age.

The idea that you have to prepare them by letting them use all this technology at a young age is fallible really, since we have no idea what the technology will be like once they are 'working age'. Nor do we know the possible negative long term implications of the technology on their bodies & minds. I may sound older than my 36 years when I complain about children as young as 8 with mobile phones, x-box's, personal computers in their bedrooms along with tv, stereo etc.. but I see it as an infringement, a stealing away of childhood. I believe in moderation, but there seems to be no moderation when it comes to these things, and the marketing of them to children.

My son was not allowed on the computer until age 5, and even then I had reservations, but it just wheedled its way in there--with 'educational' programs, and I have to say he does have an uncanny ability. But then how long would it take for a young mind to grasp the concepts anyway? Probably not that long, even if we waited until 10 or 12 years of age. But with mainstream school you can't get away with that, peer pressure takes over.

I'm sceptical of the pharmaceutical industry in a big way, and if you just consider the profits they make off of their drug inventions, how can you not be sceptical? I am all for science and awarding prizes to those scientists that have worked hard to come up with some new treatment or way of eliminating a particular disease, but that doesn't mean accepting every new development without question, especially when there are no long term studies to show any adverse effects.

Another recent study done in Australia looked into the use of fish oil and evening primrose oil supplements for children with ADHD. The study found that after 15 weeks the children who had been taking the combined oil supplement reported reduced inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsive behaviour, while these improvements were not reported in the placebo group. Once the placebo group were given the supplements, they showed similar improvements, and the first group show even greater improvement after an additional 15 weeks. The researchers also conducted cognitive assessments which confirmed the improvements in the children. The emphasis on including Omega 3 & 6 in your diet has become very popular here in the UK, as I'm sure it must be in America, as it benefits your brain, so I'm not that surprised by this study, but I'm happy about it. And vegetarians can also benefit from this, by substituting fish oil with Flax Seed Oil which has roughly double the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids as fish oil.
And there's a new supplement for veggies, from marine algae which is also supposed to be a pioneering achievement.

I will be writing more on this later, as I'm working on an article about it. It shows that there are researchers out there looking for natural treatments, and also suggests that our diet and environment play a key role, both of which have been changing drastically, mostly declining over the past century and no doubt playing havoc on our brain and bodies.

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