FRENCH school children suffering from Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are relying less on drugs as medics aim to treat the underlying environmental causes beforehand.
Psychologists in the country believe that the condition is a medical one with situational causes and as such they treat the cause of a child’s stress rather than giving them prescriptions.
They also don’t use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems, having shunned the controversial Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for their own CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent).
The CFTMEA focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children’s behaviour, rather than masking symptoms with medication.
According to Dr Marilyn Wedge, an American family therapist, French clinicians “are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child’s social context” therefore “fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis.”
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr Wedge says parenting style also has an influence on the low ADHD diagnoses in French kids.
She said: “French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts.
“ From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.”
“Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want.
“Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it.”
Nutrition, she said, plays an important role too with some youngsters showing ADHD-like symptoms after consuming foods which contain a high level of artificial colours, preservatives or allergens.
Dr Wedge added: “As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behaviour because they learn self-control early in their lives.
“The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place.
“ In French families…parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.”
Source : HeraldScotland