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Opinion

WALSH: Kids Are Struggling To Focus During Online School. Now They’re Being Diagnosed With ADHD. This Is Cruel.

DailyWire.com

More than once over the past several months I have predicted that we would see a skyrocketing rise in ADHD diagnoses, as millions of children are forced to sit and stare at screens all day in lieu of receiving a real education. Usually I quite enjoy saying “I told you so.” This is not one of those times. This week NBC News reported, right on schedule, that ADHD diagnoses have indeed “skyrocketed” during the pandemic.

From the article:

Susan McLaughlin’s 12-year-old daughter, Isabela, was a straight-A student before the pandemic. Isabela, who lives in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, excelled at science and math and was already getting high school credit for algebra.

But when her school shut down in March and classes shifted to Zoom, Isabela’s grades took a nosedive. She signed on for her virtual class from a desk piled high with books, papers and stuffed animals and then spent hours trying to clean her room instead of focusing on schoolwork. She found herself “paralyzed” by assignments, McLaughlin said, but she wouldn’t tell the teacher over email that she was struggling, as she would have done in person.

“It was meltdown after meltdown after meltdown,” said McLaughlin, 53, a mother of three from Delaware, Ohio, who works in a high school with chronically truant children…. McLaughlin spent months trying to bring more structure to Isabela’s day by writing lists, schedules, timelines and checkboxes. But as someone who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder herself a decade ago, McLaughlin realized that she was seeing the same behaviors in Isabela. She thought, “I’ve got to nip this in the bud.”

Isabela is being evaluated by a psychiatrist, a process that takes several hours and requires her teachers to fill out questionnaires about her behavior. McLaughlin hopes that with an ADHD diagnosis, Isabela will be able to get a prescription for a stimulant medication — such as Ritalin, Adderall or Vyvanse — to alleviate her symptoms.

How strange. The child was a straight A student for most of her academic career. Then, upon finding herself confined to her house, put in front of a computer, and asked to listen to lectures from a talking head on a screen, suddenly she developed learning problems. It does not take a very perceptive person to detect a potential source of her difficulties that has nothing to do with mental disorders.

More from NBC News:

Two dozen parents, pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers all described a crisis among children suffering from inattention and tanking school performance.

Data from specialists involved with diagnosing and treating ADHD show just how much parents are struggling to get help: They are flooding an ADHD support line with questions, and ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for related medications have soared…

The number of parents calling a help line set up by CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), a nonprofit that supports people with ADHD, rose by 62 percent since the pandemic started, the organization said. Traffic to its website last year grew by 77 percent compared to 2019…

Athenahealth, a technology company that creates practice management software for health care providers, published research in May, drawing on data from its customers, that showed an increase in patients ages 13 to 17 who received new diagnoses of ADHD. From the week of March 9 to the week of March 30, the proportion of visits by teenagers that involved first-time ADHD diagnoses rose by 67 percent. There was a similar spike among teenagers — particularly boys — who received prescriptions for ADHD medicines for the first time.

I hope it is clear to most people that the rise in “ADHD” and the imposition of lockdowns across the country is not a coincidence. Correlation does not always equal causation, but in this case, it obviously does. How could our children not have trouble with “inattention” and “hyperactivity” when they are cooped up, deprived of their normal physical outlets like sports and other activities, and forced to spend even more time staring at screens than they did before the lockdowns?

I can say that I suffer from quite a bit of inattention when I’m made to sit through even a 15-minute Zoom meeting. I can’t imagine doing it every day for hours — and being 12-years-old on top of it. These kids may be exhibiting hyperactivity and deficits of attention, but to call it a disorder, given the context, is the height of absurdity and cruelty.

There is a disorder here, but it’s not in our children’s brains. It is disordered to lock kids inside their homes because of a virus that statistically poses little risk to them. It is disordered to replace a schoolhouse with a laptop. It is disordered to expect children to seamlessly adapt to the unnatural and oppressive situation that we have thrown them into. It is disordered to put caution tape around playgrounds and muzzles over the mouths of perfectly healthy children. The kids who struggle in this disordered environment, and rebel against it, are healthy. Indeed, I would be much more concerned about the child who is happy to replace natural, in-person human interaction with teleconferences.

Of course, this logic applies just as much to our pre-pandemic society. We had already been in the midst of a rapid increase in ADHD diagnoses. Millions of children were already being fed psychotropic drugs to treat “mental disorders” that manifest as nothing more than a difficulty engaging and focusing where engaging and focusing would be difficult for most people. “Distance learning” is worse than what it replaced, but what it replaced was deeply flawed in its own right. Kids were expected to sit in a classroom with 30 classmates for six or seven hours a day, listening to lectures, filling out worksheets, and taking tests based mostly on the memorization. Some children may thrive in such a system, but many millions do not. The system’s solution is to call the troublemakers “disordered” and sedate them with drugs. Once again, the same theme emerges: a disordered system projects its failures onto our children.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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