Friday, January 27, 2017

Youngest in class twice as likely to take ADHD medication

The use of Ritalin and other stimulant drugs to reduce unruly behaviour among children goes back a long way now -- around 5 decades or more.  And there has always been disquiet about the practice

And underlying the issue is treating certain behaviours as an illness: ADHD.  Behaviours that once would simply have been dismissed as "naughty" are now an illness.  No doubt there are some pupils who are appropriately and usefully medicated but too often medication can be a lazy way to cope -- a way of avoiding addressing real underlying issues and problems that the pupil may have.

And the findings below reinforce the view that what is going on in much alleged ADHD is not pathological at all -- unless youth is a pathology!

The process of growing up is a process of socialization:  Children learn to control their impulses in order to get on with others.  So the younger a child is, the fewer will be its internal restraints.  It will be less docile. 

I remember fondly a little boy when he was aged 3.  He was a demonstration of perpetual motion --  always running around with a fair bit of screeching thrown in.  Now that he is 5 he often just sits quietly playing with his toys.  He still enjoys running around and screeching as part of a game but he is quite a different boy from when he was aged 3.  If you didn't know his age when he was 3 he would easily be described as an ADHD sufferer. But he was not.  He was simply young.

So the finding below that the youngest kids in the class had a lot of ADHD may simply have been an hilariously wrong diagnosis.  The researchers were misdiagnosing behaviours characteristic of younger kids as an illness!

There is a useful discussion below of problems with ADHD diagnosis

It may be worth mentioning that there was in the 1960s an "anti-psychiatry" movement including Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing and others who also challenged conventional diagnoses of mental illnesses.  The movement still has some adherents but it was up against the fact that some people really are mad:  They do see and hear things that are not there.  But the movement did succeed in considerably narrowing the definition of what is mentally ill.  It would seem that their work is not done yet

New research has found the youngest children in West Australian primary school classes are twice as likely as their oldest classmates to receive medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the research analysed data for 311,384 WA schoolchildren, of whom 5,937 received at least one government subsidised ADHD prescription in 2013. The proportion of boys receiving medication (2.9 per cent) was much higher than that of girls (0.8 per cent).

Among children aged 6–10 years, those born in June (the last month of the recommended school-year intake) were about twice as likely (boys 1.93 times, girls 2.11 times) to have received ADHD medication as those born in the first intake month (the previous July).

The ADHD late birth date effect was first demonstrated in four large scale studies conducted in the US, Canada and Taiwan. The prescribing rate for children in the WA study was 1.9 per cent, slightly larger than that reported in the Taiwanese study (1.6 per cent). The late birth date effects identified in WA and Taiwan were of similar strength to those in the three North American studies, where the reported prescribing rates were much higher (4.5 per cent, 5.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent).

Questioning ADHD as a diagnosis

The late birth date effect is not the only factor creating unease about ADHD. Multiple studies, including the WA study, have established boys are three to four times more likely to be medicated for ADHD. If, as is routinely claimed, ADHD is a neurobiological disorder, a child's birthdate or gender should have no bearing on their chances of being diagnosed.

Other risk factors for receiving medication for ADHD include race, class, postcode and clinician, teacher and parental attitudes; none of which have anything to do with a child's neurobiology.

In addition, sleep deprivation, bullying, abuse, trauma, poor nutrition, toxins, dehydration, hearing and eyesight problems, giftedness (boredom), intellectual disadvantage (frustration) and a host of other factors can cause the impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive behaviours central to the diagnosis of ADHD.

Another common criticism of ADHD as a pathological condition is that the diagnostic criteria "medicalise" normal - if somewhat annoying - childhood behaviours. Critics contend teacher and parent reports of children "often" fidgeting, losing toys and pencils, playing loudly, interrupting, forgetting, climbing or talking excessively, being disorganised and easily distracted, failing to remain seated, and being on the go (as if driven by a motor) should not be construed as evidence of a psychiatric disorder best treated with amphetamines.

Proponents counter that stimulant medication for ADHD children is like "insulin for a diabetic" or "eyeglasses for the mind". There is no doubt low dose stimulants often make rowdy children more compliant. However, a 2010 WA Health Department study found ADHD diagnosed children who had used stimulants were 10.5 times more likely to fail academically than children diagnosed with ADHD but never medicated.

As evidenced by rapidly increasing child ADHD prescribing rates in Australia and internationally, ADHD proponents seem to be winning the very public and ongoing ADHD debate. But history has taught us that as societal values change, definitions of mental illness change. It wasn't long ago that the inventors of ADHD as a diagnostic entity, the American Psychiatric Association, classified homosexuality as a disease treatable with electric shock and other forms of aversion therapy.

Perhaps in the future playing loudly, talking and climbing excessively, fidgeting and disliking homework will no longer be regarded as evidence of a psychiatric disorder, best treated with amphetamines and similar drugs.


Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce rubbishes calls to change the date of Australia Day

Changing the date would miss the whole point of the celebration.  We celebrate 26th January because that is the day on which the first white settlers set foot in Australia.  We are pleased with what we have become because of their arrival.  Changing the date would be like taking Christ out of Christmas

And there is no reason why Aborigines should not celebrate too.  By all accounts there are more Aborigines in Australia today than there ever have been.  And they have access to services that would have been a fantasy in their original state.  There was no "sit down money" then

And calling the arrival of white settlers an "invasion" is hyperbole.  It is true that there were some isolated skirmishes in which some blacks and some whites died but there was no immediate or systematic resistance to the settlers.  The absurd death tolls proclaimed by Leftist historians have been comprehensively debunked by Keith Windschuttle

DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rubbished calls to change the date of Australia Day, saying it’s “political correctness gone mad”.

The Nationals Leader’s message to anyone lobbying for the date to change from January 26 was “if you don’t like it, go to work or do something else”.

Speaking from his Tamworth home in New South Wales, Mr Joyce told 2GB radio in Sydney he was sick of people trying to make others feel guilty about celebrating Australia Day.

“I just get sick of these people who every time, every time there’s something on, they want to make you feel guilty about it,” Mr Joyce said this morning.

“They want to tell you you’re evil — they don’t like Christmas, they don’t like Australia Day, they’re just miserable gutted people who I wish would crawl under a rock and hide for a bit.”

It comes after former federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane — who readily admits he’s not normally a “bleeding-heart”, “latte-drinking trendie” — publicly announced his support for changing the date.

In a speech to Australian Unity’s Great Australia Day Breakfast in Melbourne this year, Mr Macfarlane said after the news of the last ever Triple J Hottest 100 and the announcement the City of Fremantle would also change the date, he asked himself what his Scottish ancestors would feel if they were forced to celebrate the Battle of Culloden, “where the Highlanders where cut down by English grapeshot” and survivors hunted down murdered.

“It was the moment I decided that as a conservative, Anglo-Celtic Australian, I want to play a part in the push to changing the date of Australia Day,” he said.

“I believe it is an important way to prevent a potential schism in Australia’s society and to remove a potential roadblock to reconciliation and a greater Australia.”

Mr Joyce didn’t comment on growing calls to change the date because it symbolised the beginning of Aboriginal dispossession.

He said Australia Day was about celebration.

“Don’t start your weeping and gnashing your teeth around me about the terrible evil that we’ve done, providing a nation where we’re democratic, where there’s free education, where there’s basically free health, where we’re well defended, where we basically look after the poor to the best of our ability, that has created a culture where we don’t see some of the craziness you see in some of the other parts of the world.” Mr Joyce said this morning.

“If that’s not important to you and you’ve got your nose bent out of joint because you think it should be something else, well that’s fine, find another day and go celebrate it by yourself.

“This is Australia Day — people have Barbecues, probably play a bit of cricket, here they’ll be walking up and down listening to a bit of country music.

His comments come as treasurer, Scott Morrison, has told the ABC’s AM he opposes the push to change the date as well.

He recognised that Australian stories “go back well beyond the time the first fleet arrived in Australia” but said “all Australians, I think, can embrace all of our stories”.

“That doesn’t mean we have to deny any parts of our heritage ... whether it’s our colonial heritage, our settlement history, our deep and long Indigenous history, our postwar migration with refugees coming to Australia,” he said.

“Today is our day and it’s a day to celebrate all of the things Australians have been able to contribute over all of that period of time.”

When asked about Indigenous Australians who can’t celebrate the day, Mr Morrison said Captain Cook’s arrival at Botany Bay was celebrated as a “day of reconciliation” and “a meeting of two cultures”.

“That was a time of two cultures, reluctantly or on purpose, coming together and much has happened since then,” he said.

“I take a much more optimistic view on these types of things, I’m a keen proponent of reconciliation. And I think reconciliation comes from all Australians combining together and celebrating all of our stories but also acknowledging all the things we have to learn from as well.”


All cultures are not equal

by Jennifer Oriel

Long after the West has defeated Islamic State, the jihadist threat will remain.

For the past 40 years, Western immigration policy has been based on multicultural ideology.

Its consequence is clear: Islamism has become a Western condition. Successive governments have diluted Western values to the point where they are no longer taught in schools. The result is a population unschooled in the ­genius of our civilisation whose youth cannot understand why it is worth defending.

Multicultural ideology must give way to a renaissance of Western civilisation in which Australian exceptionalism is celebrated and Islamism is sent packing.

Multiculturalism is not merely the acceptance of diverse cultures, or open society. It is the a priori belief that cultural diversity has a net positive effect on the West, coupled with a double standard that excuses lslamic and communist states from embracing it.

Thus, Western nations must open their borders while Islamic and communist states remain closed. The West must accept the myth that all cultures are equal while Islamic and communist states celebrate their unique contribution to world history. Under multicultural ideology, the greatest civilisation of the world, Western civilisation, is held in contempt while theocratic throwbacks and communist barbarism are extolled.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al- Hussein, regularly frames the West as xenophobic and racist. In a recent speech, he decried xenophobia and religious hatred. But he did not address the Chinese government’s persecution of Christians, or the governing Islamist regime in Gaza, Hamas, for hatred of Jews. Rather, he took aim at the West, saying: “My recent missions to Western Europe and North America have included discussions of increasingly worrying levels of incitement to racial or religious hatred and violence, whether against migrants or racial and religious groups. Discrimination, and the potential for mob violence, is being stoked by political leaders for their personal benefit.”

Western governments should explain why they continue to send taxpayers’ money to the UN when it has become an organisation expressly devoted to defending the interests of Islamist and communist regimes against the free world.

The growing hatred of Western culture goes unremarked by politicians whose populism is firmly rooted in political correctness. No major political party has calculated the cost of multicultural ideology to Western society. Instead, they extol it as a net benefit without tendering empirical evidence. When politicians claim truth without substantive supporting evidence, ideology is at play. It may be that multiculturalism is a net benefit to the West. If so, why has the evidence been withheld? Without it, minor parties can contend that multiculturalism is a net negative for the West and appear credible.

In the absence of empirical proof that multicultural ideology is beneficial, politicians such as Pauline Hanson, Donald Trump, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen seek to curb Muslim immigration and deport those who disrespect Western values. Hanson plans to push for a burka ban in the new year. The policy has international precedent as Dutch politicians voted recently to ban the burka in some public places. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also has proposed a burka ban, but it is reasonable to question her motives ahead of the 2017 election. In a state election held in September, Merkel’s party polled below nationalist and anti-Islam party Alternative for Germany. She has driven porous border policy and repeatedly castigated European heads of state who defend their sovereign borders, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Her call for a burka ban is thus viewed by some as blatant political opportunism.

Malcolm Turnbull addressed the issue indirectly by citing poor border controls in Europe as the cause of the problem. However, as with so many issues concerning political Islam in Australia, the question of a burka ban is indivisible from the defence of Western values.

One such value is the universal application of law that requires the equal treatment of all citizens. If Australians are expected to not wear a balaclava in banks, courts or Parliament House, why are some citizens permitted to cover their faces in a burka or niqab? Double standards and preferential treatment of state-anointed minorities is fuelling widespread, and rational, resentment in the West.

Consider retelling the events of the past week to an Anzac just returned from war. We would tell him that a Muslim married to a terrorist recruiter refused to stand in court because she wanted to be judged by Allah. Muslims in Sydney and Melbourne were charged with preparing a terrorist act against Australians. In France, several people were arrested for plotting jihadist attacks. News broke that 1750 foot soldiers of a genocidal Islamic army had entered Europe without resistance from Western armies. As in Australia, many jihadists entered as refugees and lived on taxpayer-funded welfare under a program called multiculturalism.

In the same week, a German politician called Angela Merkel, who ushered Islamists into the West by enforcing open borders, was lauded by a respected magazine called The Economist as “the last leader of stature to defend the West’s values”. Yet men from Islamic countries who allegedly entered Germany under Merkel’s open-border policy were arrested for sexual assault, including the rape and murder of a teenage girl. Asylum-seekers and refugees had assaulted women and children across Europe. Less than a year before, on New Year’s Eve, Merkel’s asylum-seekers had attacked women and girls en masse.

We would tell the Anzac that Britain attempted to acknowledge the negative impact of its undiscriminating approach to immigration. A review recommended a core school curriculum to promote “British laws, history and values” and a proposal that immigrants sign an oath of allegiance to British values. But secularism, private property and Christianity were absent from the principle list and as such, it wasn’t very British at all.

There were few Anzacs left to see what the West has become. I suppose that’s a kind of mercy. We have dishonoured the millions of soldiers who laid down their lives in the 20th century fighting for our freedom and the future of Western civilisation. We should hang our heads in shame for letting the Anzac legacy come to this. We are the descendants of the world’s most enlightened civilisation. It is our turn to fight for its future.



Centrelink debt scare backfires on Labor

Labor’s attempts to mount a ­repeat of its discredited Mediscare campaign against Centrelink’s automated debt recovery system have been exposed, with at least two-thirds of those publicly claiming to be victims of Centrelink found to owe significant debts to the ­taxpayer.

In an embarrassing blunder for the opposition, it has also been ­revealed that a third of the people used to fuel a media campaign against the government were not subject to the automated system.

An assessment of the 52 cases of people publicly claiming they were being harassed by Centrelink with automated debt notices has revealed that 18 had in fact been identified under a manual system set up by the former Labor government.

The opposition had called for the automated debt recovery program — designed to assist in the recovery of an estimated $4 billion in welfare overpayments — to be suspended. But Labor could not guarantee yesterday that all the so-called victims, whose names it had supplied to the media, were “innocent”.

The assessments, carried out by the Department of Human Services following inquiries by The Australian and requested by the opposition, contradict the ­majority of the claims of supposed inaccuracies made by the 52 self-identified public cases in which people complained of being victims­ of the automated system.

The department also confirmed that a number of those who claimed to have been ­wrongly targeted had in fact accepted­ that the debt was owed, with some even having entered into ­repayment programs.

One claimant, seized upon by Labor after being championed in a television program as a victim, was discovered to have been claiming the Youth Allowance while not studying and failing to declare income from several jobs, leading to a debt to the taxpayer of almost $12,000.

Another had been working for a full year but had not declared a job, leading to a welfare repayment debt of $4000.

A woman who claimed to have been wronged had failed to ­declare income of $37,500 from a small business while on carer and parenting payments. The woman had already entered into a repayment agreement.

Of the 34 self-identified cases subject to the new system, almost 60 per cent had been found to have been overpaid for failing to declare other income or employment. A further 12 per cent who had been found to owe money had asked for a reassessment. The remaini­ng number of ­aggrieved welfare recipients had not both­ered to contact Centrelink.

The opposition, which is using the Medicare scare-type tactics which almost cost the Coalition government, admitted yesterday that it had supplied the names of many of those involved to the media but could not ascertain the veracity of their allegations, ­despite demanding that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge take up their cases.

“We can’t guarantee that in every case they are innocent,” a spokesman for Labor’s human services spokeswoman Linda Burney said, adding that people were vetted with the resources Labor had available.

Labor, which in government had pioneered data matching for debt recovery, has forced the ­Coalition to modify elements of the system in ­response to claims it had an error rate of 20 per cent.

Ms Burney said on Tuesday: “Labor will continue to hold the Turnbull government to account for its mismanagement of Centrelink. Mr Tudge continues to insist that the program is working well despite scores of stories about false debt appearing in media reports­, an active ombudsman’s investigation, possible legal action­ and calls by welfare groups for the system to be suspended.”

Mr Tudge said that, while the government should be rightly subject to scrutiny, the numbers being used by the opposition were wrong and demonstrated a deliberate misrepresentation.

“Many of the personal cases that Labor has fed to the media are examples where they received an overpayment because they had not declared all their income to Centrelink,’’ he said.

“There are other examples where entire jobs were not report­ed while the person was on benefits.

“When Labor was in government, they didn’t pursue these cases. If they had done the checks when they were in office, we would not have to do the work now.

“The unfortunate reality is that some people deliberately ­defraud the system, while others inadvertently don’t accurately update their income details. This means they received more payments than they were entitled to.”

The Department of Human Services has aggressively defended the system, posting rebuttals on its website.

“Commentary on the department’s online compliance system continues to incorrectly say 20 per cent of letters are being issued­ in error. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the process,” department general manager Hank Jongen wrote.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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