behaviour by children is falsely attributed to ADHD and autism, academic
Priscilla Alderson claims in the Times newspaper that behavioural
'syndromes' are normal childhood restlessness of a generation stuck
Bourne, an educational psychologist, who has worked with children
for 35 years, rejects the claims that his profession is exploiting
labels to make money.
28, 2003 - Source:
This article is taken from The
Unruly behaviour by many children is being falsely attributed to
medical complaints and syndromes when better parenting is needed,
a leading academic has claimed.
Alderson, Professor of Childhood Studies at London University, said
that syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and mild autism
were being exploited by psychologists keen to make a quick
conclusion will provoke fury among psychologists and the parents
of affected children, who have spent years fighting for recognition
of a range of behavioural problems. The National Autistic Society
said that questioning the diagnoses would add to the stress
and confusion suffered by many families.
number of children registered with special needs has almost doubled
over the past decade to 1.4 million an increase from 11.6
per cent to 19.2 per cent in primary schools and from 9.6 per cent
to 16.5 per cent in secondary schools. The term encompasses learning
difficulties, such as dyslexia, to various syndromes on the autism
Alderson was backed by Eamonn OKane, leader of the National
Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Woman Teachers, who said
that members were cynical about an explosion in the number of special
needs diagnoses and called for more support for teachers facing
Alderson said that it was often convenient for neglectful parents
to claim that a child had a behavioural disorder. She believes that
much of the increase can be put down to more flexible interpretations
of normal childhood traits, such as restlessness and excitability.
In our more gullible age, she says, this becomes attention deficit
which could be solved by engaging more with children and
allowing them to let off steam in traditional fashion by playing
in parks and climbing trees.
recently visited a special school which had 27 children diagnosed
as autistic. Of those, only two that I met displayed the lack of
eye contact and absence of empathy which denotes true autism,
she said. Money is behind all this. Pyschologists want the
work, and lower the diagnosis threshold accordingly. Special needs
is an administrative device describing children who have extra needs
from those provided for in the average classroom.
and parks are empty, because of the scare stories about abductions.
But children need the space and freedom to play, run and climb
without that, they are restless, and come to be seen as abnormally
eight children are murdered outside the home each year, compared
with about 50 inside. Cooping up children inside homes is not going
to do them any good.
Alderson, 57, who has three grown-up children and three grandchildren,
admitted that her eldest daughter had been difficult,
something she attributes to her naivity at the time about how to
be a good parent. By the time my other children came along
I had realised that if you treat children as adults then they will
have complained about the growth in the syndromes, alleging that
it gives pupils an excuse to avoid discipline. They are also suspicious
about the number of children who are able to use a diagnosis to
claim more time in their examinations. For a fee of £50, an
educational psychologist or specialist teacher can attest that a
child should claim at least 25 per cent extra time because they
have behavioural or learning disorders.
37,000 11-year-olds were given extra time in their national test
in English last year up by 8,000, or more than 35 per cent,
in two years. Similar increases were seen in maths and science tests.
Bourne, an educational psychologist, who has worked with children
for 35 years, rejected the claims that his profession was exploiting
labels to make money. In the past I think we had a very crude
view of some of these disorders, he said. It is a very
complicated issue. I think we have a much better understanding of
what aspects make up a personality than we did when I first joined
the profession. Personally I am convinced that family history plays
a far more significant part than we believed in the past, and while
surroundings and upbringing are also important alone they simply
do not explain why certain people from the same family develop in
very different ways.
OKane, general secretary of the second-largest teaching union,
said: A lot of teachers are very cynical about the reasons
behind the boom in the numbers of these conditions. We need to do
more to address the consequences for staff who have to deal with
the bad behaviour.
internet chatroom used anonymously by teachers reveals the beliefs
of many members of the profession. One posting, left this month
by a teacher identified only as re, complained about
students who are whipped off to a psychologist and labelled
if they show the slightest sign of misbehaviour.
goes on: This diagnosis then becomes an excuse
for more misbehaviour we have students with mild tourettes
and lots of ADHD and yet they can behave well if threatened
calling herself Miss Nomer responds: Writing as a special-needs
teacher, I am quite sure that a lot of it is complete b. I get sick
of being trashed by some little s who then tells me I cant
punish him because his pill hasnt kicked in yet. When you
give a kid a syndrome, you give him an excuse.
blamed uppity parents looking for compensation, extra funding,
a stick to beat teacher and an excuse for their kids obnoxious
behaviour and their inadequate parenting.
Hopkins, a director of the National Autistic Society, said: This
can only add to the stress and confusion that many families face.
The importance of receiving a correct diagnosis cannot be emphasised
enough. Access to the most appropriate education and support depends
on it. No reputable diagnostician is likely to make an on-the-spot
diagnosis. Our experience is that diagnosis is still a battle for
many families. Teachers believe the numbers of children with an
autistic spectrum disorder is on the increase.
Many young children feel unsafe in local parks as these are often
dirty and dominated by gangs of older youths, a report says today.
Lack of opportunities to play out safely was the top concern of
5- to 13-year-olds from deprived parts of England, according to
research by the education watchdog Ofsted for the Governments
Perez, owner of Michelles Day Care in Texas, US
Dec 6, 2003
alternatives to drugs
am the mother of a 12 year old who at the age of four was labeled
as having ADHD. At the time I was a young mother and unsure of what
to do about my child's behaviour. The
school told me that I needed to put him on Ritalin. The teachers
and principle would have a meeting and then call me in to encourage
me to put him on this drug. They would write letters to the doctor
about his behaviour in school. I did not want to medicate my child.
He already had epilepsy and was taking a drug called depikene.
was very upset with the thought of putting him on another drug.
With being young when I had him (I was aged 16) I was also married
too young which created more problems in the home life.
dad and I were making it on our own with no help. I divorced when
my son was in kindergarden.
remarried six years ago. When I decided I did not want to give him
ritalin the school criticised me for not giving it to him. At the
time I may not have understood things but now i am an educated person.
I have my own business. We moved to a new town and into another
school. My son out grew his epilepsy in the first grade.
school that he attends is somewhat the same - they want him on medication
also. I refuse to put him on it. He is a very bright child and just
needs to be redirected often to complete his assignments.
have devised a folder that he takes back and forth from school that
each teacher must sign everyday concerning his homework and daily
are alternatives to drugs. Its just taking the time to figure out
what you need to do as a parent without schools trying to force
you to give your child anti hyper medicine."
Barton, housewife and mother of three, Cambridgeshire
September 9, 2005
Why my son
is on Ritalin
am a mother of a six year old boy with ADHD who was diagnosed at
just four years old and has been on ritalin every since.
still don't like the idea of medicationg my son so that he can be
'normal' but I only have to miss a day and realise why I do. Without
the drug my son would have no friends, he would hurt his younger
brother and I would be back on anti-depressants. He would have a
horrible time at school and would learn virtually nothing. As a
family we would not be invited anywhere and we could not really
go anywhere as driving with him in the car can be dangerous. As
we also have a baby we probably would end up having to split the
love my son very much and I am deeply sad that he has this horrible
disorder. As an educated parent I still ask 'is it my fault?
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