One day a friend and I were discussing the virtual explosion of special education students who are being labeled as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and assigned to our caseloads. My friend mentioned that the state in which she was teaching had created a new label — O.D.D. — and explained that it stood for “Oppositional and Defiant Disorder.” We found it ironic that the word "odd" would become the label for children who refuse to comply with simple requests for decency; who refuse to respect themselves and others; who stay so "at odds" with simple expectations for acceptable behavior.
I asked my friend to explain the diagnostic difference between ADD, ADHD, and ODD students. Her description was comical: “Well…the ADD and ADHD kids are the ones you want out of your room. The ODD kids are the ones you want out of your school!”
I have worked with many of these ODD children and I can describe most of them as “two-years olds whose parents never took the time to get them under control.” Tantrums, manipulation, throwing of objects, refusals to comply with appropriate requests from adults, stomping of feet, and other such immature behaviors, typify the actions of little ones going through that notorious "2-year old phase." Busy parents and broad usage of daycare may be much to blame for these unruly and unmanageable children. I suspect that such behavior began when, as two-year olds, these children were righteously angry about their parents leaving them with strangers. When parents fail to take charge of their children; fail to come home to parent their children, the rage within some of these youngsters must just build to a breaking point.
Our new assistant principal, a long-term committed employee of our district, is a dedicated advocate for children. Recently I requested his assistance in "counseling" a new student who still, after about six-weeks, refused to accept that I allow nothing and no one to distract me from teaching/students from learning. While in my room, this man spoke words of wisdom to this middle school boy. The boy was giving his excuses for why he is how he is, and why he cannot change. One of the items on his practiced and lengthy list was, “I’m ADD.” This child-advocate gently explained, “I’m familiar with the ADD and ADHD labels, and I know that neither “D” stands for “DISRESPECT.” The boy reacted with meekness, with respect, and maybe even with a little relief that this time no one was going to buy into such a phony, overplayed show.
Are such labels valid and do they describe actual physical or mental disabilities? I do not believe that they do, except in very rare instances. I agree with Dr. Patrick Groff, that almost all of the "learning disabled" students are in truth, "teaching disabled." I join him in asking, “Is Dyslexia Scientifically Confirmed? Or Is it Caused By the Ineffective Teaching of Reading?” If dyslexia is truly real, why have I read that the word never appeared in any dictionary until 1965? “Dyslexia” merely means "bad with words."
Dr. James J. Campbell, in his article titled, “A Teachin’ Deficit Disorder,” says, “Whole Language reading instruction…is manufacturing countless reading disorders and creating a group of children who are so confused that they are mistakenly regarded as being disabled with attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, hyperactivity disorder, and other behavior problems. In many instances, the children don’t need Ritalin — they need to be taught how to read.” In my experience, the "many" could easily be defined as "most."
Regna Lee Wood explains, “Special Education…is producing thousands of illiterate adults. Yet more than 80 percent of all Special Ed students have normal sight, hearing and intelligence — they simply haven’t been taught how to read.” Based on 1995 figures from the Oklahoma Department of Special Education finance office, Mrs. Wood points out that, “Oklahoma taxpayers will provide nearly 600 million in local, state, and federal tax dollars this year for two unsuccessful remedial education programs in which nearly 40 percent of Oklahoma’s public-school students are now enrolled. Both programs depend on the continuing failure of instructors to teach many normal children to read.”
Regna Lee Wood could not say it more clearly when, in this same article, she stresses, “It is time for the decision makers to do their homework. When they do, they will reach these conclusions:
-Reading comes first. Instructors can’t teach anything to illiterate students of any age except how to read. The horse comes before the cart.
-Second, the argument about reading methods is over. Flat-earth proponents had little to say after ships came back to Spain by sailing west all the way. The empirical and physiological evidence that reading students must learn to spell sounds is just as overwhelming.
-Third, everyone must focus on all the carrot-and-stick ways to persuade reading teachers — whether in public or private schools, libraries, prisons, or industry — to teach beginning readers how to match sounds with letters that spell them. If they don’t, this country’s highly touted ‘bridge to the 21st century’ will be a dead-end tunnel.”
Dr. Fred A Baughman Jr. is even more forthright in his lengthy, well-researched paper, “Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) As Fraud.” “With no proof that ADHD is a disease with a confirmatory, physical abnormality, the ADHD ‘epidemic,’ has grown from 150,000 in 1970 to five million in 1997. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Ritalin production, in the U.S. rose 700% between 1990 and 1997 …Few, if any, questions about ADHD can be answered without an honest answer to the question: ‘Is ADHD a disease with a confirmatory physical (including chemical) abnormality, or isn’t it?’”
American schooling is in deep trouble. I see it every day on a small scale in the school where I teach. These researchers see it on a national scale as they continue their studies and try to get the word out to the people of America, and especially to all parents. The issue is not simply an issue of Disrespect. The issue is the coming downfall of our way of life. Read, study, listen to Regna as she explains, “Ignorant and Free? School-Produced Illiteracy Fuels Social Problems, Threatens Republic’s Survival.” We are talking about our children and our future and it is time that we stop waiting for "someone else" to grab the bull by the horns and turn the mis-educated herd of reading teachers in America! We must turn them in the right direction and give them the skills that our teacher training colleges are refusing to provide!
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] lives in Michigan. She is a free-lance writer and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.