Why French kids don't have ADHD

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Malika, May 21, 2013.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Cultural and family structure are a huge benefit for ALL kids - including difficult children. I'd agree that generally there isn't enough structure here (North America).

    But it doesn't account for those families here that DO raise their kids that way (we are one of them)... and the kids STILL have ADHD. Including K2, who really isn't a difficult child, but really does have ADHD (inattentive type). K2 never was a "behavior problem", she just couldn't focus on literally anything at school, just too many distractions... so nothing was getting done or learned.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    The prevalent thing about medications for ADHD that has always bothered me is that so many doctors, parents, and teachers advocate using the medications during the school year and taking them off during vacation. Either the ADHD requires medications or it doesn't. If it only requires medications during the school year, there's something wrong with the school year. Not to mention that the affect on the brain of going on and off the stimulants is dangerous.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Witz... I tend to agree, generally.
    Mine? are on their medications daily, 365 days of the year.

    But I do know kids with ADHD inattentive type, who really do only need it for school - and at that, only for a specific kind of class (e.g. one of them needs it for classes with lots of listening and note-taking, the other for math/science because of the need for detailed focus in a subject area he is not good at). In both cases, low-dosages. And they only take it school days in semesters when they have those classes. And it works. So there are exceptions.
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    In hindsight, I agree that if a child only needs the medications during the school year then it's an issue with the classroom, teacher or school overall. With my difficult child, this was suggested and we tried it but it as apparent that she needed those medications even when not in school. As always, I feel this is an argument that goes back to whether or not ADHD is over diagnosed and over medicated.
    Are French children less likely to develop ADHD? Who knows...ever study is flawed, in my humble opinion. Our home had a lot of structure and it was that very structure that often drove difficult child to meltdowns. I don't think there is any one defining factor in whether a child or adult develops ADHD...I think each individual case is its own animal and needs to be evaluated based on that person's specific symptoms.
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    While the article is an interesting starting point for a conversation, it leaves more questions unanswered in my mind than it gives answers. The gold standard for a research study is a double blind study. Usually you need at least 150 on each side of the blind to give what can be considered an accurate finding. The article doesn't refer to any such study results.

    I suppose there are blind studies in the US that could be looked at but I really don't know. I've always been very skeptical about the over-diagnosing and over-medicating on ADHD. But to just say that French children are medicated less seems very arbitrary to me.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    There's two basic assumptions.
    In the first case, assume that the "western world" is pretty much on an even footing in terms if genetics, health, etc. Then assume that the rate at which ADHD exists is identical across the western world. Compare % of kids aged 6-18 on "adhd" medications in France, vs. US. I'm guessing it's a lot lower in France. Does that in itself mean the US kids are "over" medicated? No. French kids could be "under" medicated. Or some combination. But... I don't doubt that US medication usage rate is higher than France.

    In the second case, assume that the western world is NOT on an even footing, that the "new world" has a higher incidence rate of ADHD because of various gene-pool theories. If the US has a higher "real" rate of ADHD, then the medications rate - and the diagnosis rate - will in fact be higher... and not have anything to do with culture or any other difference.

    Bigger issue in comparing US and French stats on ADHD is... the two countries do not use the same definition. So, it's an apples-to-oranges compare, which while "interesting", isn't a valid study.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Agreed - To just say one country so vastly different uses medications more than another is apples to baseballs. Besides, it's generally recognized that in terms of access the French have the best healthcare system in the world, while the US comes in at a paltry 37th. There's a lot more to why the French medicate less than us than meets the eye. (I do think that the article above is an observation rather than a study, though.)

  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Malika, I thought of you when I saw this, but didn't want to upset you.
    But now that you've allowed us all a soapbox ;) ... this is, as Witz said, a conversation starter. Period.
    It is published in a popular--aka pop-psychiatric magazine--NOT a juried medical journal.
    The author is flippant, unscientific, and arrogant.
    I'll get off my soapbox now. :)
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    We too have lower figures of ADHD than USA. But more than in France. (I think our figures are something like 5 % of kids between age 6-16, less in adults. Less than 2 % of them severe; meaning needing medication instead of just other supports.)

    And we certainly are in the other end of spectrum than France in demanding and disciplining our kids. Only thing we do demand from our kids is rather high level of independence from early age. Our kids walk to school alone at age seven. At age eight they spend afternoons home alone etc. But other than that we tend to have very low expectations for our kids behaviour. We always aah and ooh to French or American well behaved and articulate children - and let our own grow total hillbillies and totally expect them to be total hellions and hope they just learn to behave in furnished rooms, say hi to others and look towards the people when they talk to them around the time they turn twenty. Most do. Okay, other thing we demand from our kids is high academical performance. But how they learn is mostly up to them, if they don't feel like working for school it's mostly okay to us, if they are smart enough to still learn.

    But other than that we don't have high expectations. We certainly don't expect a child to sleep through night before they are two or three. If they want to eat just ketchup, macaroni and hamburger meat till they are five, we are okay with that. We start to consider if we would need to teach them a word 'no', when they turn two. We expect them to start to consider saying their first words before they turn three, but no one is concerned if toddler doesn't talk more than a word or two when they turn two. We consider it excessive if our kids under six have something else to do than free play more than four hours a week. Or if our first or second grader has more than four hours of school a day (with every class being 45 minutes and 15 minutes being free play outside before next class.) With third and fourth graders may have a day or two with five classes a day. Even our 13 to 16-year-olds have 30 hours of school at tops a week (with those 15 minute outside breaks after every class.) Our kids start kindergarten (mostly free play, not real academic goals other than writing your first name and knowing numbers to ten) at the fall of the year they turn six. Many postpone by year their boys who have born at fall and would be youngest of the class. Kids are expected to have learned to read at spring of second grade, most of course learn first grade and many even before. But parents are concerned if their four- or five-year-old learns to read and worry the child's childhood may be endangered.

    So, the answer why we too have lower ADHD figures than USA is certainly not the structure and discipline. Genetics could be the factor. Maybe also the opposite than in France. Kids with higher activity level and less ability to concentrate can still keep up with others, when not much work or sitting or things like that is demanded.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My opinion? Does anyone care...lol.

    There is just as much ADHD in France as anywhere else, but it isn't diagnosed. WHen I went to school there was just as much as there is now, but it's not diagnosed so the kids didn't get the right help. Back then, schools were also less rushed and hurried so all kids had a better chance, but there were plenty of spastic kids back then.

    A structured environment can help the ADHD child function better, but ADHD is neurological and can't be stopped by environment. Same with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I don't believe there is less of it in France. I just think that France is behind in diagnosing it. So that's my .02.
  12. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    When I was a kid, in southern New Jersey in a public school, well, girls didn't get hyperactive. Only boys. So boys could be evaluated and treated, but girls who were quiet daydreamers spent time with the guidance counselor but mostly got left alone to move up a grade every year anyway.

    Not that I am bitter.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I know somebody who is French. Her mother is bipolar. While she loves her h/c system, she has told me over and over again that it is not that good int he mental health department.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Could be. Then again, how many of us who have bipolar in our families are happy with the mental health care available to us and our kids? Unless they've developed a magic bullet, we know it's nearly impossible to successfully treat a person with Borderline (BPD) consistently throughout their lifetime. Then again, their standard of care is so different there that they may have set the bar significantly higher and are less easily satisfied than we are with health and mental health care. Without standardized double blind studies it's all subjective to personal experience.

    I know my dual citizen French friends have to fly to France and stay if they need any surgeries or long-term health care help because they can't afford it here. Can you imagine flying from Seattle to Paris then driving to your village in the Alps to have your Hernia or Gall Bladder removed? The only cost to that is the airline ticket if you can stay with family. I'd do it to avoid a $40k hospital bill. After all, they pay taxes in both countries.

    The article is about medicating, so I think that health care is topical for that. Only doctors can prescribe. Still, I find the article to be little more than an observation by someone who is cherry picking facts. I think it's safe to say that French kids do indeed have ADHD, and that the French people diagnose and treat it differently. Apples and croquet balls.
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, in her case they wouldn't diagnose it even when it was obvious and she has had issues we don't have. I'd rather have my mental health care here.

    Who decided France had the best healthcare anyway? Probably mostly people in Europe (shrug). I don't put much stock in it.

    As for ADHD, from what Malika says, they don't even know much what ADHD is. Most of the rest of the developed world is very aware of it's existence.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, hang on MWM :) What I say, rather repetitively I am sure, is that your Mr Man in the Street or Jean Average does not know about ADHD here... the doctors do, of course, though some of them still attribute psycho-analytic causes to it. Like the States, it depends very much where you are... things are good here in the big cities, much less so in the outlying regions. And I tell you what is fantastic here... all the services and interventions that are available, some of them free - speech therapy, notably, but also psychomotriciens (that profession that doesn't seem to exist outside of France, dealing with a kind of psychology of movement), and a host of other health-related things. I suspect French healthcare is one of the best in the world in terms of efficiency, speed and sophistication. But mental health is rather behind, yes.