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Wild and willful

Shifting perspective and approach towards ADHD
PhD ceremony:Ms M.N. (Maruschka) Sluiter
When:February 04, 2021
Supervisor:prof. dr. P. (Peter) de Jonge
Co-supervisors:prof. dr. L. (Laura) Batstra, dr. J.M. Doornenbal
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Wild and willful

A biomedical approach to wild and willful child behavior is disadvantageous for children and is disputable. Yet this approach is dominant and persistent in our society. This thesis first discusses likely relatable factors to this dominance and persistence. Research findings slowly find their way to practitioners, especially when against dominant paradigm. Both medicine prescriptions and attitudes of teachers towards ADHD and medication appear to be marginally influenced by research findings. Besides, a biomedical approach appears to have upsides for parties involved: in case ADHD causes difficult behaviors or lagging academic performance, no one is to blame. However, a major disadvantage is that in this manner cause and solution are child focused, thereby not (fully) using contextual opportunities. The second part of this thesis therefore is a plea for more space for a psychosocial approach. Nuanced education for upcoming professionals and supporting parents with a parental course without the need for a child focused psychiatric classification show positive effects which can contribute to normalization and demedicalization through strengthening the child’s environment. Next to environmental adjustments, children can experience improved task-oriented behavior in class by using a timer. This thesis does not strive for a one-sided psychosocial perspective. Thinking in black-and-white can be destructive, nuance and balance are crucial. Thinking and acting inclusively, normalizing, demedicalizing, and with a stepped and contextual approach, is advantageously for children, their direct environment, society and governments, and therefore deserves more attention. Challenges lie in constructive thinking and acting and working collaboratively in the best interest of the child.