ADHD Diagnosis (and “Read”shirting)

 

“The ADHD Diagnosis Problem” appeared in the December 4, 2018 issue of The Wall Street Journal based on research that was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine last week. Children whose birthdays are in August have a 32% higher rate of ADHD diagnosis than those who are born in September in states in which the cutoff date for entering school is September 1. This is another example of the differences that exist, on average, between being one of the oldest and one of the youngest in class. In New York, the cutoff date for starting school is December 1. Children who are 4 years and 9 months old may be reading, but that does not mean that it is reasonable to expect all children to be reading at that age.

 

The article does not mention that there were similar findings a few years ago for ice hockey players in Canada. Looking at their date of birth was the best way to predict who would become an elite hockey player. The oldest had an advantage in the beginning and their success bred success. Learning to play ice hockey and learning in school are both dependent on a child’s developmental age which correlates with their chronological age. Instead of being ignored, it should be expected. Parents recognize this and redshirt their children for school and for sports. It should also be recognized that numerous factors make it difficult for children to catch-up; to start to learn faster or grow faster than others in their grade.

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Similar research was reported in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in October which studied 13 countries. The same age correlation held in all the countries other than Denmark whose parents commonly delay their children’s entrance into school by one year. While the WSJ article is focused on the age of starting school, the critical message is that we need to pay more attention to child development. Expectations should not be structured on when we want children to have certain skills, but on when most children are ready. Children differ in their rates of development. Many children develop asynchronously. It used to be routine to assess  child development. It is now assumed that all children are the same or that the school can make them the same. If these are not the assumptions, what is the rationale? Children who naturally read early have advantages, but that doesn’t mean pushing children creates the same love of reading. It is more likely to have the opposite effect.

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Our focus is visual development, but vision does not develop in isolation and all areas of development are important; language, social skills, physical abilities, self-control, and focus. We see the effects of academic acceleration in the office. Most of the children with vision-related school problems who were brought into the office in the past were in third and fourth grade. Most of them are now in first or second grade. Many are in kindergarten because they are not reading and they are having difficulty with the visual motor control needed to write. Their parents, with similar skills at the same age, would have been judged OK. May the pendulum start to swing back towards an appreciation of child development.

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Here’s to the Value of Appropriate “READ“shirting!

New JAMA research shows reading problems linked to treatable vision problems

Understanding Motor Skills in Children with Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism and other Learning Disabilities: A Guide to Improving Coordination

Becoming a Nation of Readers

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Vision: It’s Development in Infant and Child

 

I have reviewed the differences in education across cultures in The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way  and in The Learning Gap . There are also differences within our own culture in child rearing, education, socialization, and remediation which have taken place over the past few generations; some due to philosophy and some due to technology. Continue reading

The Neural Basis of Reading

Cornelissen, Hansen, Kringelbach, Pugh

The following clinical pearls should not be buried in a compilation of scientific papers. This knowledge should be applied to reading instruction. It can also help understand how the process is breaking down for some children.

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Reader, Come Home

 

Marianne Wolf
Reader, Come Home is about the importance of deep reading. It discusses the consequences of the decline in reading deeply on important issues. It explains what is necessary to develop and apply the ability to read deeply. Continue reading

Visual Perception and Who We Are

In The Mind is Flat, Nick Chater uses our flawed intuitions about how we see to question the veracity of the intuition that we have a cognitive subconscious. My review will focus on what Mr. Chater calls “the grand illusion”; our belief that we see much more than we do. Our thoughts and actions are dependent on our perceptions. What we have perceived in the past influences our present perceptions as our current perceptions continue to create who we are and how we will perceive in the future. Illusions can cause us to believe that we are seeing what we know cannot be true. I cannot express this better than the author’s words. Continue reading

Assessment of Silent Reading Efficiency

 

“The Decline of Comprehension-Based Silent Reading Efficiency in the United States: A Comparison of Current Data with Performance in 1960” appeared in Reading Research Quarterly in 2016. While there are endless debates about reading pedagogy, there is consensus that the best way to assess silent reading efficiency is by measuring eye movements. Continue reading

Function alters Structure = Plasticity

In The Road to Character, David Brooks encourages developing good behaviors in children because we become what we do. Everything that we do, experience, see, and think changes our brains, either making new connections or reinforcing established connections. The specific techniques of optometric vision therapy to enhance visual function have been shown to make corresponding changes in the brain.

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