Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ADHD: Alternatives!

It has long been held that there is no alternative treatment to ADHD! Stimulant in its various forms is the answer. In life nothing is easy or indeed straightforward. Unfortunately pill popping is the preferred mode to deal with any problem by most and the sale of various OTC medication without prescription kept high street chemists busy and very happy.

The alternative to medication treatment for ADHD is there, has always been.
Just look at Michael Phelps.

I have blogged sometime back about swimming, golf and music and I firmly believed that we may indeed have the answer all along. We just refused to work so hard.

Golf:
My friend just returned from a month at Spring City Golf & Lake Resort in Kunming, Yunnan. He showed me the score cards.



One golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and the other by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

“You have to go. The weather is perfect, and so are the courses. You can play 18 holes and not sweat. The ball goes further at this altitude and the caddies are just wonderful.”

Kunming happens to be my birth place. It is north of Vietnam and is well known for its biodiversity and superb year round weather.

China, which just celebrated 60 years of Communist rule, is now embracing golf in a big way. Most golf courses are designed by big name western golf designers or golf champions turn designers. It must indeed seem ironical, as golf is seen by many as a game for the elite. Venezuela has just banned golf for that reason.

Bare Foot Doctors:
Changes in China since the early 80s have been phenomenal. First it abandoned the “Barefoot Doctors” that was started by Mao when doctors and intellectuals were seen as the elite and sent to remote villages to farm. “Barefoot Doctors” with minimal training cannot really deal with more complicated medical cases. It is a shame that we in England do not seem to have learned from the bad experience of China and the politicians have been pushing ahead with reforms in the NHS with the result that “Barefoot Doctors” known as Noctors (Dr. Crippen) are taking over.

Piano:
At the height of the “Cultural Revolution”, the piano was seen as the definitive sign of bourgeois decadence.

Petroc Trelawny wrote in The Spectator that Fou Ts’ong (one of my favourite Chopin pianists) was forced to seek exile in London, where he later heard his parents had fatally poisoned themselves. Liu Shih Kun, who came second in the Tchaikovsky Competition when Van Cliburn won, was imprisoned by Madame Mao. He survived and has now established a number of piano kindergartens across China, in response to the craze created by Lang Lang’s performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many Chinese parents now want their children to learn the piano. The BBC reported that an estimated 30 million children in China are now learning the piano.

BBC

Is the piano China’s answer to the problem that is facing many parents in the west, i.e. ADHD? Could it be a novel substitute for Ritalin and other stimulants? With the advent of unproven modern approaches to education at all levels, very few subjects require memory work. Yet in the last decade or so, memory work has been shown to be beneficial to “brain power”, leading to a whole new approach to neuroplasticity. Learning a musical instrument is one way to give the brain the right amount of training.

For now, just as the west is abandoning classical music training as part of the school curriculum, parents in China are paying for their children to have piano lessons. By some reckoning, North America probably consumes 90% of Ritalin and similar stimulants, whereas China is probably consuming 90% of the pianos produced. One factory in the south of China is currently producing 100,000 pianos a day.

Swimming:
Some will argue that such pressure on children is not good. Yet we have to look at Michael Phelps, whose parents abandoned drug treatment for his ADHD in favour of swimming. 

.....For an athlete who took Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child, it is also his most surprising asset.

"Michael's ability to focus amazes me," says his mom, Debbie Phelps, a middle school principal who occasionally speaks on panels about ADHD. It's a condition that most frequently affects children, making it hard for them to pay attention to one thing or to sit for long periods.

Bowman, who began coaching Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club when the swimmer was 11, recalls how much time Phelps spent sitting near the lifeguard stand as a kid, benched because he was being too disruptive.
"He never sat still. He never shut up; he would never stop asking questions," his mom says. "He just wanted to go from one thing to another."

When he was in elementary school, a teacher told his mom that Phelps would never focus on anything. His mom disagreed. She had seen him at swim meets.....

The modern Chinese parent may indeed have stumbled upon something similar to Michael Phelps’ swimming in dealing with problems of concentration. Many parents actually believe that the discipline of learning the piano is helpful in building a more rounded person, although some may have aspirations that their offspring might be the next Lang Lang.
As China now moves into a new era, the piano practising child may have something else to practise: golf.

The Independent reported that it is the new game that is the game of choice for China’s new elite.

My friend told me that when he was at the Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, a nine year old just won a junior tournament. The boy was only 9 and he scored 71 on his final round playing from the red Tee
He may well be the next Tiger, a piano playing Tiger.

“There’s a sense that greater powers, profit-driven and amoral, are pulling the strings in our children’s lives. There’s a sense that those who should best protect us — our government and our doctors — are so corrupted that they can no longer do the job. There’s a sense that childhood has, in many ways, been denatured, that youth has been stolen, that the range of human acceptability has been narrowed for our kids to a point that it has become soul-crushingly inhuman.”

                                                Judith Warner      New York Times

Ritalin has also become popular because it takes the blame away from those responsible for the child – the parents and often the teachers as well. Some parents who do not wish for their child to go on Ritalin are often put under tremendous pressure by the teachers. Very few have even bothered to find out if there is any non drug related method at all.”



“According to data obtained exclusively by Education Guardian under Freedom of Information legislation, there has been a 65% increase in spending on drugs to treat ADHD over the last four years. Such treatments now cost the taxpayer over £31m a year.”                          More>>>>





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