Monday, September 21, 2009

I Can Try, But I'm Not Promising

So, children in the UK can get wristbands that allow them to go to the front of the line at (some) amusement parks if they're diagnosed with ADHD:
Hyperactive children do not have to wait in line at theme parks because they cannot cope with the stress of waiting. The youngsters are being given wristbands that allow them to sail past the crowds queueing for rides and other activities.
I don't necessarily have a problem with the policy, but can certainly understand the position of some teachers who are opposed to it:
'Part of having ADHD should be teaching them to live in the world as we know it,' one said...'They cannot queue jump in later life in the post office, therefore they need to be taught this.'
What concerns me is that the so-called experts are either ignorant themselves, or (more likely) using public ignorance to their advantage. For example,
Andrea Bilbow, of the ADDISS support service, said: 'Children with ADHD are very impulsive and just can't cope in a queue or when there is a delay in gratification. They can't stand and wait for an hour because there will be a nice ride at the end of it. They physically can't cope with that.'
This highlights a very common and very important misunderstanding of the diagnosis of mental conditions. The misunderstanding is this:
A diagnosis DESCRIBES behavior only. It does not EXPLAIN behavior.
The argument being put forth by the expert is that the child can't cope with delaying gratification *because* the child has ADHD. But that is an objectively inaccurate understanding of a diagnosis of ADHD, whether the DSM version or the ICD-10 version. A diagnosis descriptively labels behavior, and that is all. Thus, it is actually the opposite of what is being claimed - because the child acts impulsively, his/her behavior is labeled as ADHD. What the woman should have said is this:
'Children are diagnosed with ADHD because they are very impulsive and just don't cope in a queue or when there is a delay in gratification. They don't stand and wait for an hour...They don't cope with that.'
A child diagnosed with ADHD is diagnosed based on what he or she DOES or DOES NOT do, whether or not the child CAN do otherwise. "Can" & "Cannot" are irrelevant to diagnoses.

Title reference here:

Posted at Reverse Sickology

1 comment:

B-O-B said...

Very interesting D! I used to know families who would purposefully have one of their children fake a physical injury or disability to get a wheelchair for their day at the amusement park so that they could cut in line. Then you would see those people in the bathroom walking around. I bet that will be the same now with this.