All interesting food for thought, so to speak.

I agree with many points about the need for educational reform and the critical loss of divergent thinking ability. I disagree to some extent on some issues, especially when he treads into ADHD/ADD discounting.

The talk clearly has become a blog-vent for many people on the 'dangers' of medicating ADHD/ADD. While I agree there is a clear problem with the quality of how it's diagnosed and treated, I firmly believe such blanket statements, as proffered by said blog-respondents and the most eloquent and well-intentioned speaker, pose the substantial risk of unfairly discounting and alienating children who truly suffer from what is clearly a real and debilitating disease. ADHD/ADD existed long before any 'modern' and formal educational system was in place, and affects up to 5-8% of school-age children, and that it is, in fact, still very under-treated and under-diagnosed, especially among our poor. The fact also remains that kids have to survive in a society that is the way it is, and these kids particularly struggle.

The true treatment for ADD/ADHD isn't 'just' medication - it involves focus on the child in differing environments, and providing all forms of respective support and guidance where needed. The accurate diagnostic process is just as critical. In my clinic, when presented by a parent who brought their child in for 'focusing' issues, I spent a long period of time on each child, up to months, before diagnosing or not; and often, even when schools and parents were firmly convinced their child had it, I was able to convince many parents that often the child didn't, nor did the child require medications. Furthermore, other diseases and issues needed to be ruled out: thyroid, anemia, lack of exercise or proper diet, depression, bipolar, home and domestic issues, poor support, etc.

I can say though, that when children did have ADD/ADHD, meeting fairly stringent diagnostic criteria, and when they did receive some form of treatment, support, and re-focus, these children improved miraculously and dramatically. Some needed and responded to meds, and some others didn't. Ironically, the meds don't anesthetize these children, but actually are 'stimulant' medications - they stimulate particular inhibitory pathways in the frontal lobes that simply haven't developed, and often don't fully develop till adulthood. Those who don't have ADD/ADHD but are given meds actually don't notice a change at all with medication, and meds are discontinued in such cases. However, in that subset of children who truly suffer from debilitating ADHD, the improvement on medications was remarkable, and the children consistently self-reported that they were not only happier, but were punished less, no longer seen as 'bad', etc.

Children who suffer from it and remain untreated are at extremely high-risk for depression, self-esteem issues, and further alienation, at home, in school, and among peers. Happily, many children outgrow not only the disease but also the need for medication, so treating it within this critical window of time is vital and essential. Extensive studies have consistently demonstrated that the rates of depression and suicide (at later ages) among those who were undiagnosed and untreated are considerable and terribly alarming. While I agree there may be inconsistent standards among providers who may diagnose and treat, it's simply not so black and white.

Furthermore, the presenter provides no such information on what he considers to be the actual danger of treatment, nor does he present data that backs up his statement - just a general 'we-are- anesthetizing-our-children-isn't-that-terrible'. So such flame-fanning invective is not unlike that which has been of late unloaded unfairly and ignorantly by the fear-mongers who believe that 'vaccines are bad.' To discount the helpfulness of certain medications is akin to discounting such important advances as antibiotics, insulin, and blood pressure meds. The diseases treated by said medications have always existed, and we now have the ability to treat things that we know exist and have always existed, but we are now more aware of. Discounting ADHD is like Tom Cruise discounting depression; those that really suffer from it and remain untreated are at horrible risk for disenfranchisement, alienation, worsening anger and behavioral issues, self-injury, depression, and suicide.

So, yes, reform education, and improve how ADHD is diagnosed and treated - but we cannot discount the disease.

The thing that I found charmingly and strangely ironic about this presentation is how hyperactive and uber-visual it all was in this particular format, especially given the presenter's statement that we live in an increasingly over-stimulating environment: maniacal hand scribbling in all directions, words and cartoons dispensed and drawn apace, as if the cartoon hand-avatar itself suffered from ADHD, and as if we the listeners couldn't have focused on the presentation without it! Where's my coffee, dammit?