There is no doubt that the United States education system is failing. The website “Statistic Brain Site” has compiled information on some of the problems created by this failure.

There are 3,030,000 high school dropouts each year
Only 59% of high school students in the 50 largest U.S. cities graduate
A high school dropout will earn $260,000 less than a graduate in their lifetime
75% of U.S. crimes are committed by high school dropouts
High school dropouts are only eligible for 10% of U.S. jobs
50% of U.S. citizens can’t read at an 8th grade level
85% of prison inmates in the U.S. are not literate.

Arizona determines the number of prison cells needed by evaluating the reading scores of its lower school students. They know that a child who cannot read will likely be unable to obtain a decent job and will be easily drawn into a life of crime.

Understandably, many people are looking for the correct diagnosis of the cause of these education problems. One diagnosis of the cause is that many students suffer from a learning impairment. This impairment is called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”).


English: Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed ...

English: Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: National Survey of Children’s Health, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like almost all of the “diseases” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM IV), ADHD was not designated a mental disease because of extensive blood tests or other medical tests. Instead it is a very subjective definition based on the observations of psychiatrists whose majority vote determined not only the existence of ADHD but also the symptoms.

According to the DSM IV, a person with ADHD has a combination of the following behavior patterns:
Inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more severe than typically observed by similar individuals;
Some of the hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms were seen in children under seven years of age;
Some impairment from the symptoms must be present in at least two different settings;
Clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic or occupational functioning;
The person does not have Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorders.


The DSM IV creates three subtypes:
A person is said to have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Predominantly Inattentive Type of ADHD if six (or more) symptoms of inattention (but fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity) have persisted for at least six months;
A person is said to have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD if six (or more) symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity (but fewer than six of inattention) have persisted for at least six months.
A person is said to have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Combined Type ADHD if six (or more) symptoms of inattention and six (or more) symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least six months.
The DSM IV says that for a person to be diagnosed with inattention they must have six or more of the following characteristics:
Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities;
Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activity;
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly;
Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions);
Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework);
Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools);
Often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli;
Often forgetful in daily activities.


The DSM IV says that for a person to be diagnosed with hyperactivity, they should have six (or more) of the following symptoms which have persisted for at least six months to the extent that they are more than normally would be the case:
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat;
Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected;
Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness);
Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly;
Often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”;
Often talks excessively;
Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed;
Often has difficulty awaiting turn;
Often interrupts or intrudes on others–for example, butts into conversations or games of others.


Once the six or more symptoms of hyperactivity or inattention are observed, there are additional requirements.

A person must have exhibited some of them before they were age seven;
A person must show that the symptoms cause a problem in at least two settings–home, school, work.


When labeled as having ADHD, the normal prescribed treatment is to use drugs, such as:
Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, Daytrana)

Amphetamine (Adderall)

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)

Atomoxetine (Strattera)

Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)

The side effects of these ADHD drugs include:

Decreased appetite

Slowed growth

Feelings of hopelessness



Aggressive behavior

Manic behavior

Sleep problems

Stomachaches and headaches

Tics (Sudden repetitive movements)

Lack of emotion


Rebound effect (When drug wears off the symptoms come back even more pro- nounced than before)

Sudden cardiac problems leading to death

Suicidal thoughts

Of course many of the symptoms that would lead a child to be labeled “ADHD” are also symptoms of things like:

Insufficient sleep


Vitamin or mineral disorders

Endocrine system problems

Diet problems

Vision problems


THE DISEASING OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN — Exposing the ADHD Fiasco and Empowering Parents to Take Back Control
was written by psychologist John Rosemond and pediatrician Bose Ravenel, M.D. The authors cite the findings of the 1998 National Institute of Health Consensus Conference which concluded,“…there is no compelling evidence to the effect that ADHD is caused by or significantly and reliably associated with physical or biochemical ‘irregularities’ (e.g., deficiencies in the left temporal lobe, biochemical imbalances) in the brain. They furthermore agreed that no objective test or set of criteria exists with which to accurately diagnose ADHD.”
In addition, the authors point out:

None of the supposed symptoms of ADHD are described with any precision;

The word ‘often’ is used in every signal criterion;

Does often mean they happen every few minutes or several times a day;

The number of symptoms required to diagnose ADHD is arbitrarily set at six. “Why six? Why not five? Why not seven?;

Interviews done with teachers who taught before 1960 maintain that they hardly ever saw kids who fit the ADHD description;

Do nearly half of America’s children have something seriously wrong with their brains, some kind of inherited chemical imbalance?

Stimulant medications, like ADHD drugs, enhance a person’s attention span and ability to concentrate on a task at hand;

A 1980 study of a half-million school-age children done by the California Department of Education that “…found that the more time a child spent watching TV, the lower his test scores regardless of IQ, social background or study habits;

An article published in 2005 in Clinical Pediatrics looked at Amish children and reported that “not a single child in this group has been referred to us by the schools for evaluation or recognized by us as having ADHD.”

A growing list of research showing that simply adding essential fatty acids and reducing the intake of sugar will markedly reduce ADHD symptoms.

In life, there are few things more important than proper diagnosis of problems. If you incorrectly diagnose the cause of a problem with your car engine, it is unlikely that your car engine will be repaired and not cause more problems. Most of us recognize this.

Why then do we not take as much care with diagnosing our children’s problems as we do with a car engine? For some parents it is because they take the advice of a professional. For other parents, they allow their children to be labeled ADHD because they are pressured by the school system .
Unfortunately, for some parents, having a child labeled with ADHD is a way to collect extra benefits from the government. There are 1.2 million families receiving social security disability payments for children with disabilities—like ADHD. These amounts range from $675 to $800 per child. For a low-income family, these amounts can make a major difference.

However, if ADHD diagnosis and treatment were all that was required to improve the failing education system and failing students, then more credence should be given. This has not been the case. The problems continue and get worse not only for the schools and children but also for society.
Before a child is labeled ADHD and put on the harmful and dangerous drugs, all of the other causes must be evaluated. Fortunately, almost all of the other causes of ADHD symptoms are not based on opinion but on actual medical tests. Once the health practitioner has done these tests, then the proper diagnosis and treatment can be done.
To not do a thorough diagnosis is the worst kind of child abuse because it can create problems that will plague the child throughout their life.

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