Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.

Published on March 8, 2012 by Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. in Suffer the Children

                  In this article, Dr. Marilyn Wedge tells us French and American's different perspectives regarding ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) treatment.
According to the author's report, In the United States, ADHD is considered as a biological disorder with biological causes and the preferred treatment are Ritalin and Adderall which are also biological. However, French child psychiatrists believe that it is a medical condition related to psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of prescribing drugs, they look for underlying issue in terms of the social context. And they then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. The author also expresses her concern about the United States' ADHD categorization. She tells the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM could classify normal children into the ADHD category.
Dr. Wedge also states that French education enables children to get the self control ability since French parents convince the limit to their children. She believes that learning selfcontrol in childhood prevents French children from having ADHD and American family style has a risk of increasing children have ADHD.
       It is very interesting for me to see different approaches to treat or diagnose ADHD. It is true that French people have quite strict rules in educating their children (I even saw a mother spanking her child at the supermarket!). They also pay higher/more attention to the nutrition facts and the quality of food especially for they feed their children. (Apparently,there are less fast-food restaurants in France than in North America.)

      However, this article raises some questions for me: How much do the nutrition facts and education system influence ADHD children to change their behavior? Do such approaches help children with severe ADHD symptoms maintain attention when given challenging tasks? Dr. Marilyn Wedge claims that a good education style, healthy diet and a well-aimed philosophy of discipline could prevent normal children from being categorized as ADHD kids, but there are also other authors who stress the need of biological—psycho stimulant medications. The links below are two cons about Dr.Wedge's article.
On the other hand, it is told that we can approach the cause of ADHD syndrome in terms of the balance of the brain waves. According to the second lecture, ADHD is a phenomenon caused by unbalance of beta and theta waves. If a special music (or waves) is able to balance the two waves, I believe that it could be a better solution than a treatment with biological--psycho stimulant medications. This article has 881 reader comments mostly written by parents who have children with ADHD. You will be able to find many opinions based on their own experience.


Carina Freitas said...

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist this topic is quite intriguing. One crucial aspect that needs to be considered is the difference in medical education between France and North America. The child psychiatry field in Europe and especially in France is yet very much influenced by the psychoanalytic approach of Freud and his followers, which is mostly focused on finding underlying causes for a manifest problem in a child´s life. For instance, some ADHD symptoms in France could be because of a child´s feeling about parent´s divorce, and lack of sufficient sleep. For this type of diagnostic point of view, psychotherapy and some educational sessions are of great help.
In my clinical practice in Portugal, I tried to strike a balance between these two approaches. In some clients diagnosed with ADHD, psychotherapy could be helpful, whereas in many other clients, children and adolescents were medicated with methyphenidate (Ritalin).
Of course this pharmacological treatment may cause unwanted side effects such as sleep problems or decreased appetite, but we were able to see the immediate result and children could consequently focus more on school and achieve better academic performance. Even though some parents were resistant to give medication to their children, the teachers would persuade them to do so.
Regarding the Neurofeedback treatment in ADHD, as pointed out by Prof. Lee Bartel on his lecture, this treatment is a natural and noninvasive method. It trains children to be more concentrated and active, by increasing beta brain waves (fast waves) and decreasing the theta ones (slow waves). Nevertheless, it is a long treatment, as it requires too much practice to see improvements. It is noteworthy that this treatment needs minimum of 30 sessions and, thus, is more expensive than ADHD medication.

Francois said...

Hello Carina, I am glad that an expert of ADHD left a comment on my article!I taught some ADHD and ADD children and was able to see how they changed their behaviors by receiving music lessons. Hope we can discuss about this subject later.

Susan Raponi said...

I can only comment based on my own experience working with ADHD children in the music classroom. Structured, and action based music has a profound affect on children especially when there are understood expectations in the class. First and foremost children who may be have an ability to focus need to be engaged in activities that promote thought process, creativity and action based curriculum. However, I have also see miraculous changes in students who have been given medication that is appropriate and effective. Children who seem to benefit enormously in terms of social behaviour, self-control and focused learning. As far as the French vs. American thing hmmm...wll I'd have to dive into the research myself to be convinced...