Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder are labels that are being used more and more in Australia. At learningdifficulties.com.au, we are interested in these conditions because of their link with dyslexia.
Dawn has found that, in many of the cases where ADD or ADHD has been diagnosed, she has been able to cure the problem by applying her methods and treating the student as dyslexic. Although there are cases where only the drugs will help, many of these children are misdiagnosed and not given a chance. The labels ADD and ADHD can be an obstacle in any child’s development. Dawn believes that labels are only of use if they help a teacher understand better how to teach a child. A label should never be seen as a bad thing or something to be scared of or worry about.
Dawn Matthews believes that she is often able to solve this feared problem. She has proved that by combining her self esteem raising strategies and teaching ideas and methods found in “Dyslexia How to Win“, that most of the ADD or even ADHD kids that have been referred to her have become happy, successful students. Sometimes Dawn has been able to completely turn an ADD kid around in less than a year.
This young man was diagnosed as having ADHD. He was extremely hyperactive and destructive. However, it turned out to be artificial colourings that caused his symptoms.
He is pictured with one of the very things that caused many of his problems. The four additives that his parents found to cause his hyperactivity were sunset yellow (E110), tartrazine (E102), Annato E160b and Ponceau E124.
This is a very serious condition and can make life hell for the individual who has it as well as for parents and teachers associated with the kid. Children who have ADHD tend to find it hard to socialise, have real concentration problems, are hyperactive and bored most of the time and often do not seen to experience guilt in the same way as other children do.
Dawn says – “I have, in over thirty years of teaching kids with specific learning problems come across eleven such pupils. In Scotland, where the giving out of amphetamines is seen as wrong, these kids tended to self medicate with street drugs such as Speed. In Australia they are given prescription amphetamines“.
When true ADHD children are on the amphetamines they can usually read, write, spell and concentrate virtually perfectly. Also their trouble in socialising disappears and they become “normal”. When they are not on the medication they often get so frustrated that they trash classrooms. The change happens almost instantly. As soon as the kid is on amphetamines he changes and becomes more normal, as soon as he is taken off them he gets angry and bored. It is like operating a switch, on to off.
ADHD does definitely exist. I have seen it in a few kids, but it’s very rare.
In five years of teaching and assessing in Australia I have come across just three cases.
But I have been presented by dozens of children who have been told incorrectly that they have this disorder, some of whom have been on medication for months or even years. I have found that in order to teach reading and writing to these children I have to first take them off their medication. This is not always easy as it is addictive.
A different way of learning
I have absolutely no doubt that this disorder has been grossly over identified in Australia. If you have a child or pupil on amphetamines and he/she is still behind in basic reading and writing please think long and hard about the damage you could be doing. There could be a drug free alternative and due to the dangers associated with amphetamine use drug free is always better if possible. Dyslexics need to be taught in a very different way from other kids and my books take you step by step through this.
When I was still working in the UK, this label was hardly used. Very few kids were given medication for this condition, especially in Scotland. But in the last five years, while I have been working in WA, practically every boy and quite a few girls have been offered medication to apparently cure a condition that I see as dyslexia.
You cannot cure dyslexia with amphetamines. Why would you want to when you consider that dyslexics have a much greater chance of achieving success than a non dyslexic does?
In her book, “Dyslexia How to Win”, Dawn says:
“The reasons for my ADD type symptoms are complex and in order to try to help you understand what is going in a brain like mine I will now attempt to unravel them.”
Dyslexia and ADD
I have never met a dyslexic who does not have a distractible mind. I suppose that means that in Western Australia all dyslexics could be labeled as having ADD. Certainly, I would have been labeled as such if the term were in common use when I was a child. I am not afraid to admit that I live a lot of my life in my own thoughts. How else would I have been able to invent all these games and teaching strategies and write this book? At the same time as doing all of this I became a print maker, ran a property investment company, worked out how to survive Chronic Fatigue, how to brick lay, pave, plaster, cover chairs and sofas, lay carpets, tile floors, design houses, etcetera. What is wrong with that? I would not have been able to do all of these things if I had not lived inside my own world quite a lot of the time and allowed my brain, to some large extent, to dictate the order in which I worked things out.
Any pupil who has failed in the school environment will develop behavioral strategies to help cope with this failure. It is, therefore, difficult for a psychologist or pediatrician to unravel the problems of a pupil once the pupil has both failed and developed coping strategies. Some pupils become very quiet and isolated as a result of failing, others become noisy and the class clown, while others can become aggressive and even destructive. Some children fail because of their behavior and others have adopted the behavior because of failing. I always advise that any learning difficulty be looked for first. If you do try the drug treatment and you do not see an obvious improvement in a few weeks then please think again.
Amongst the children labeled with ADHD that I have taught I have cured some of them by identifying, explaining and treating their dyslexia. Others are clearly not dyslexic at all while some have even displayed characteristics of sociopathic behavior.
Many have been helped enormously by eliminating certain foods from their diets. I know of one case of a boy who trashed whole houses and classrooms and who was completely cured when artificial colors, (often made from petroleum), were eliminated from his diet. I always suggest testing for allergies. This can be carried out by a doctor or it can be done by food elimination at home. The most common allergies that I have found to be the trigger, in order of commonality are: -
- Petroleum colors, the ones found in sweets and soft drinks and many junk or kids food.
- Artificial flavors found in processed food.
- Artificial sweeteners, especially Aspertaine, again found in soft drinks and also sugar free foods.
- MSG otherwise known as Monosodium Glutamate found in most processed foods.
- Anything orange even oranges. The color orange is often put in children’s medicine.
- Gluten or wheat flour products.
- Milk products including cheese, butter, ice cream and milkshakes.
At least one medical study showed that 62 out of 76 ADHD children improved as a result of elimination diets and one third became completely normal.
Before giving a child dangerous drugs try to teach him/her a different way, please try to eliminate any allergies and try the methods in this book. Kids should not be given drugs unless absolutely necessary. And when you try amphetamines look for an instant cure, if this does not happen then think again.
The Allergy handbook edited by Lynne Mc Taggart published by What Doctors Don’t Tell You 1998 – The Lancet 1985’ 1; 540-5