This weekend there was a fascinating article in the New York Times titled, A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.
Embedded within the article were some truly startling statics about the rise of A.D.H.D in our society.
For example, “The lifetime prevalence in children has increased to 11 percent in 2011 from 7.8 percent in 2003- a whopping 41 percent increase- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 6.1 percent of young people were taking some A.D.H.D medication in 2011, a 28 percent increase since 2007.”
The article highlighted many interesting ideas. Of course, many of us have thought about the role that the pharmaceutical industry has had on the increasing diagnoses but have you ever thought about the fact that a short attention span was once very valuable when we lived in a hunter-gather society? The author also goes on to discuss the discrepancy that kids face between their highly stimulating digital worlds and the slower paced world of the classroom.
And then there’s my idea. I know it’s not really mine but I do wonder why we don’t hear more about it.
Recess. Could recess cure our A.D.H.D. epidemic?
I haven’t done the research and I don’t have the statistics but I know subjectively that our school aged children are moving far less than they ever have in the past.
I recently heard about a school that gives their children, through the middle school, two recesses a day. I was so shocked you would have thought they were getting diamonds twice a day. Two recesses per day sounded so luxurious.
Caroline, age 11, goes outside for maybe five or ten minutes daily (independent of her P.E. time) depending on how quickly she eats her lunch and Katherine, age 8, is lucky if she gets twenty minutes of play time each day. I even hear about teachers who are taking away recess time for inappropriate behavior.
I can’t help but think that the increase in A.D.H.D. diagnoses has something to do with the change in how our schools and curriculums are structured. Younger children are learning harder skills while moving less. How can this not have an impact? And more importantly, when will more people ask these questions?