Sunday, May 26, 2013

ADHD: Questioning the interaction of nature and nurture

The article begins with describing a difference in kids diagnosed / treated with ADHD `(9% of school-aged children in US and less than .5% in France).  It is important to note that they don't use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM in France; instead, they focus use a CFTMEA which focuses on underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms.
It then goes on to describe different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. This too could be a factor in the differences.  The author of the article states, "From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want... French parents let their babies "cry it out" if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months."

I must admit that while I find the article interesting, it's hard to think that ADHD is totally environmentally determined.  In addition, there have been children and adults I have known whose lives have been dramatically improved by short term and long term treatments for ADHD (medication and / or behavioral therapies) so I would hope we don't go back to thinking, "It must be the parents or the environment."  Sometimes, it is the difference in being able to access learning and thus I would hope that teachers and parents keep their eyes on the goal!

However, like so many conditions of human existence, nature and nurture may indeed interact to determine the extent to which a preexisting tendency will develop.  In some ways, perhaps, it might be like Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even some forms of cancer.  While we can slow or deter these tendencies in our bodies, the tendencies are biologically determined.  If you are prone to skin cancer, sunscreens, hats and checks will help keep the disease at bay - at least for a while.  If you have the ADHD tendency, your environment can make it a little bit better or a little bit worse, but your tendency is still there.  Sure makes you wonder though....and I sure hope that researchers are looking into to help parents and teachers provide the best framework to help all of us be the best we can be. 

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