Heartscope Learning is an independent, nonprofit student support center providing evidence-based online programs and consulting services to students, parents, schools and universities.
Imagine How Your Child Will Feel Ending Up Here
We do not believe – nor is there definitive research which proves – the pharmaceutical industry’s hypothesis that ADHD is an organic brain disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
We DO believe the traits of ADHD are real. No doubt some of these traits can be counterproductive to learning yet other traits can be beneficial. Useful traits often associated with ADHD include energy, creativity, spontaneity, humor, etc.
Unhelpful traits of ADHD are typically most noticeable (and most disruptive) in a classroom setting: daydreaming, talking out, poor organization and weak working memory.
Treat The Individual – Not The Stereotype
Why the rush to slap a ‘chronic disease’ label on a child who – through no fault of their own – may not in fact be ill?
What if new evidence-based coaching programs were available to address the underlying cause(s) of low academic performance? What if these support options were minimally-invasive, carrying none of the side-effects seen in the vast majority of kids taking stimulants on a daily basis?
For many children – perhaps the majority – medication only addresses a few of the real issues underlying low academic performance. While medicated students may be easier to deal with in a classroom setting, many of these kids don’t feel better on the inside, nor do they perform any better in the long run. They continue to struggle, sometimes for their entire lives.
For these unfortunate kids – and their families – school continues to be a nightmare. Except now theirs is a nightmare with side-effects.
NEXT: How parents and teachers can help.
Footnotes to comments above –
“…evidence-based…”: We try not to make statements or draw conclusions that are not supported by unbiased research. We welcome differing opinions and predict our own views will evolve as science marches forward. Please note that we do not accept funding, gifts or meals from pharmaceutical interests.
“…consulting…”: Our Founder is a Harvard-trained (and occasional Guest Lecturer, research details here) learning specialist. This website is designed for individual families – please contact our clinic in Kansas City to discuss consulting services for schools, university learning centers and youth sports teams.
“…nor definitive research…”: Granted, it’s true that researchers have identified brain regions in ADHD children that are statistically different from same-age children whom do not display ADHD symptoms. What has yet to be proven is either a) that this truly represents a disease state or b) that these functional differences are the primary causes of (as opposed to a consequence of) some other set of complex physical, cognitive and/or ecological factors.
“…may not in fact be ill…”: The AAP adopted the chronic disease model in 2011 presumably because industry-sponsored studies determined that large numbers of North American patients were not taking their ADHD meds. Unfortunately, there have been limited resources devoted to investigating WHY parents discontinue medication. It’s possible that tens of thousands of parents are uncaring, negligent and/or short-sighted. It’s also possible that for many, the results of long term medication adherence are not worth the ongoing side-effects.
“…many don’t feel better…”: We are concerned that once a child comes to view him/herself as ‘damaged goods’ academically-speaking, his/her inner beliefs and weakened self-concepts tend to – over time – become self-fulfilling, usually in an unhelpful, even detrimental, way.
“…easier to deal with…”: It is true that for some students, medication is a game-changer. For these lucky few, the fog of inattention is lifted and for the first time in their lives, school makes sense. We wish not to endorse any blanket statements about medication efficacy – either for or against. Indeed, we’re not opposed to medication – we’re opposed to using medication to treat a non-medical problem. We would never forcefully express our opinions in a situation where doctors, parents and specialists have all, after a thorough investigation, reached the same conclusions about cost vs benefit.
“…nightmare with side-effects…”: Especially troubling in our view is the fairly widespread practice amongst primary care providers of INCREASING dosages in partial responders, when new research suggests just the opposite may be more effective in the long run (and of course with fewer side-effects). Different brain regions absorb psychotropic medication at different rates. What now appears plausible is that a dosage which results in an observable change in externalizing behavior is by some estimates TWICE the dosage required to improve executive function.