Rise in ADD and ADHD diagnoses

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Rise in ADD and ADHD diagnoses

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Why are so many kids being diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder or some other learning disability? I think the reason is, for one, that we are doing a better job of diagnosis. There are more people in the field. There is a greater sophistication of knowledge about what constitutes various learning disabilities. That's the good answer. I fear that we are so concerned about the development of young people, that we don't give them enough time to grow. Children grow at different rates. I think I probably spent my entire teen years with Attention Deficit Disorder because I sat in classrooms daydreaming about sports and girls. In retrospect, was probably fairly normal. Today, I would be sent off to a psychiatrist and diagnosed because some would say, "Paul can't pay attention in class." I couldn't pay attention in class because, A, the teachers were boring, and B, I was wondering if I could get a date Friday night, and C, I was wondering if I would throw a touchdown pass Friday afternoon. Did I have ADHD or was I a normal teenager? I think there is a point of balance which we sometimes fall off one side of the other on.

View Paul Cummins, PhD's video on Rise in ADD and ADHD diagnoses...

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Expert Bio

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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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