Learning Pathways is a Colorado-based educational intervention service that specializes in curing dyslexia. Their approach uses multi-sensory exercises based on the most modern research into neuroplasticity to develop fundamental cognitive abilities. While it was long thought that brain cells cannot be replaced, we now know that not only are neurons capable of forming new connections, new neurons can actually be created in the brain. This makes the concept of so-called learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD as being “hardwired” into the brain obsolete, and Learning Pathways’ success record of curing dyslexia proves it.
I have long observed that whenever we believe something is unchangeable, such as being “hardwired” or due to an innate “chemical imbalance”, we stop looking for answers. Instead of continuing to look for ways to solve the problem, we settle for finding ways to manage it. This obviously prevents us from finding whatever solutions might exist. In my opinion it is better to look for a solution when none exists than to give up on finding a solution when one does exist. That’s why I admire the customized, evidence-based approach Learning Pathways takes to helping students transform their conceptions of what is possible for them.
Question: What are some of the signs that a child is exceptionally gifted?
- Rapid speech
- Impulsive behavior
- Compulsive talking
- Compulsive organizing
- Nervous habits and tics
- Preference for fast action and sports
- Physical expression of emotions
Question: What are some of the “symptoms” of ADHD?
Answer: The same.
This list actually identifies the traits associated with one of five supersensitivities (psychomotor) described by Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski in his characterization of gifted children. Another of the five supersensitivities (emotional) is characterized by traits that are often misdiagnosed as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
How often are we medicating kids when we should instead be trying to understand them, to provide them with environments suited to their natural inclinations and opportunities that are matched to their talents? Two experts on TED raise these questions and point out that the widespread medication of kids is killing creativity and entrepreneurship.
Both of the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications, Adderall and Ritalin, are classified by the DEA as Schedule II controlled substances, which means they have “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Could it really be that amphetamines have suddenly become a biological necessity for a large and growing minority of kids? Or is it more likely that we are collectively missing something?
If a doctor has prescribed psychiatric drugs for your child, it is your obligation as a parent to take a long, hard look at how their psychological needs for trust, validation, affection, stimulation, meaning, and purpose are being met, or not met, by their environments. This will most likely mean asking penetrating, difficult questions about your own life, which can be hard, but your responsibility as a parent is to do what is truly best for your children, not what makes things the most convenient for you. Instead of looking for ways to “control” them, you should be looking for ways to empower them, inspire them, and nurture their gifts. Making the decision to have your home be a “drug-free zone” is within every parent’s reach.
Today I read a thought-provoking post on a blog called The Innovative Educator that offers resources from doctors, educators, and parents to manage ADHD symptoms without drugs. The author promotes the idea that ADHD is largely an environmental problem, and that rather than medicating kids to make them fit into their environment, we should modify the environment to effectively meet the needs of kids without the need for them to be medicated.
For me, the point is not whether or not you think drugs have a place in improving cognition, the point is whether the alternatives are being fully acknowledged. Before asking whether a child has any innate cognitive chemical deficiencies, we should be asking whether the environment we are trying to fit them into is the right one for them, and what alternatives may be available. When education is independent and self directed, the possible need for medication can be addressed in the appropriate context. The discussion following the post is as thought-provoking as the post itself, and provides a closer look at some individual circumstances.
To read the post I’m talking about, go here: The Innovative Educator: Cure ADHD without Drugs with These Resources from Doctors, Educators, and Parents