ADHD Social Construct Theory
In the ADHD Social Construct Theory the idea is that
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder) are generally speaking, not biological or
psychiatric disorders, but can be better explained by environmental
causes or even the personality type of the person. For example an ADD
person can be introvert, while the hyperactive person is an extrovert.
This theory suggests that the observed behaviors are not abnormal,
but normal behavior for a part of the human race. However the extreme
overreactions are caused by environmental factors. Among these factors
are cramped living conditions with inadequate play space, the United
States’ classroom environment together with the increased educational
burden being expected from children today, and the stress parents are
under, making it more difficult to be in tune with their children, like
parents are in Africa are able to do.
As an example: a young child sitting quiet and still for three
quarters of an hour at a time, listening to something they are told to
learn, but which they do not find interesting, is an unnatural behavior.
This a new phenomenon in human history.
ADHD was not a problem of note until after the Industrial Revolution.
The social changes in western society created environments and
situations where this behavior became problematic. Certain children who
are boredom intolerant are likely to react against this unnatural
environment by either “tuning out” (ADD) or becoming restless and a
Different cultures have different expectations of behavior and are
more or less tolerant of active children. In United States’ schools, an
attitude of intolerance towards children behaving in a manner similar to
that described as ADHD has developed.
In other cultures that are more tolerant see the same behavior as
just an “active child.” Some may even perceive the behavior as healthy.
This is especially so where these people do not live in high rise
apartments, but in smaller communities in more natural environments,
where the children can run free.
Parenting styles vary, even within the Western culture sphere. The
parenting styles in Northern Europe are generally more child centered
than in the United States. Dutch parents for example are generally more
aware of their children’s arousal and self-regulation, than the average
parent in the United states, and they take care their children get
sufficient sleep and are not over stimulated.
Schools in different countries have different attitudes, which
facilitate accommodation of different children or restrict all children
into the same regimen. Canada is ahead of the United States in this
regard, having a more flexible attitude. Many European schools have
alternative seating styles and even allow for movement in class.
There are studies which show that the rate of ADHD like behavior is
fairly consistent in children all over the world. However the rate
children are diagnosed varies greatly. In some cultures that behavior is
not considered impairing the children. In the United States parents,
especially when pressured from schools, are encouraged to look for
medical treatment, usually stimulant drugs.
Within western society there are definite differences even in the
diagnosis. In Europe the ICD-10 (International Statistical
Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision) is used instead of the United States’ DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th
Edition). The ICD-10 has a different level of diagnosis of ADD and
ADHD, resulting in 3 to 4 times fewer diagnoses, than in the United
States with the DSM-IV.
The proponents of the ADHD Social Construct Theory argue
that while biological factors do play a large role in difficulties
sitting still or concentrating on schoolwork in some children, the real
problem is that the school systems, have failed to integrate these
children with the social expectations that the schools have on them.
Some theories will explain some aspects of ADHD, while other theories show other sides of the condition. There is no single explanation. ADHD is complex. Trying to simplify it is not science, but wishful thinking. ADHD is very individual, in both cause, symptoms and treatment. One theory might explain one individual’s ADHD, while another theory explains another person’s ADD, and a third person may find their explanation in parts from three theories. in this context the ADHD Social Construct Theory should be given more consideration than it is at present.