Whether you call ADD a “disorder or a ‘paddleable offense,’ ” we’re making too many excuses for children’s problems today, Texas Governor Rick Perry wrote in his 2008 book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For. His statement is a throwback to a less well-informed, less compassionate era when children who were hyperactive and struggled to focus in school were not said to have disabilities like ADD and ADHD, but were thought to be just plain bad.
Nearly 1 in 10 children today are diagnosed with ADHD according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease and Control. Many children take medication to address symptoms including difficulty concentrating and impulsivity. Many parents are concerned that children with ADHD and ADD are overmedicated. But Perry’s suggestion that children just need more discipline and “tough love” overlooks the fundamental challenges of having ADHD and ADD.
In his book, the presidential candidate self-diagnoses himself with “severe Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).” His suggestions for addressing the challenges of ADD are, first of all, the rigors of scouting:
“Some young boys—especially those with severe Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), as I must have had as a boy—have never focused on something for more than a few minutes until they tried to build their first fire on a camp-out or learned to tie a bowline knot with a double half-hitch knot on the opposite end of a thirty-foot rope,” Perry wrote. “Others have never been asked to do a project that takes more than a few hours or a few minutes to complete. If they have, they probably walked away from it without any consequences. Boy Scouts helps cure this form of restlessness. The combination of difficult tasks and harmless competition can ignite in a young boy the characteristic of perseverance that has never been seen in them before.”
A recent study has indeed found that regular “green time” — playing in “green,” outdoor settings — is linked to milder ADHD symptoms; scouting could be seen as having some similarities to “green time”:
The researchers … found that children who were high in hyperactivity (diagnosed with ADHD rather than ADD) tended to have milder symptoms if they regularly played in a green and open environment (such as a soccer field or expansive lawn) rather than in a green space with lots of trees or an indoor or built outdoor setting.
Perry suggests that people today just need to be tougher on kids who receive diagnoses of ADD and ADHD. These are considered neurological disorders today; Perry refers back to a bygone, certainly harsher era in noting that ADD has been called a “‘paddleable offense.’”
Read more: adhd, adhd adult, autism, bad parenting, boy scouts, cdc, corporal punishment, denis leary, hyper, kids health, learning disability, mental disorder, mental health, paddling, pediatrics, perry, psychology, rick perry, spanking
Photo by Gage Skidmore
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