5 x 8: How sociological factors lead to an ADHD diagnosis

The Monday Morning Rouser:


Maggie Koerth-Baker considers the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder “epidemic” and writes this week that it’s not hard to figure out why nearly 11 percent of children 4-17 have received an ADHD diagnosis.

The incorporation of A.D.H.D. under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act in 1991 — and a subsequent overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration in 1997 that allowed drug companies to more easily market directly to the public — were hugely influential, according to Adam Rafalovich, a sociologist at Pacific University in Oregon. For the first time, the diagnosis came with an upside — access to tutors, for instance, and time allowances on standardized tests. By the late 1990s, as more parents and teachers became aware that A.D.H.D. existed, and that there were drugs to treat it, the diagnosis became increasingly normalized, until it was viewed by many as just another part of the experience of childhood.

Writing in the New York Times, she says “education policies, disability protections and advertising freedoms all appear to wink suggestively at one another.”

There is a biological basis for the diagnosis, but she says the sociological ones — “what happens when kids are expected to be miniature adults” — is responsible for the explosion in the diagnosis.

More science: Should Disabling Premenstrual Symptoms Be A Mental Disorder? (NPR)


Here’s a quote you don’t hear every day:

“I can’t store bodies in my home, and that is where we are running into problems.”

It’s Cass County Death Investigator Kriste Ross, lamenting the fact there’s no morgue in Fargo. She examines all unattended deaths in the county, but works out of her home, and it’s an unpleasant proposition, the Fargo Forum reports:

The coroner doesn’t have a vehicle, so Ross drives her own car when she is called to the scene of a death. Then the body has to be kept in an ambulance while Ross contacts one of the three funeral homes that act as the county’s morgues: Boulger and Hanson-Runsvold funeral homes in Fargo and West Funeral Home in West Fargo.

If the funeral home can’t take the body or doesn’t want to because of the smell – the bodies cannot be embalmed if they are part of an ongoing investigation – then Ross is left scrambling to find a place for the body. It’s a problem that happens at least once a month, she said.

“We have to put these bodies somewhere until we can make every effort … to get a hold of these families,” Ross said. “That means that somebody’s got to hold a body for us because we don’t have any of those resources to do this on our own.”


Archie Willard, no 83, was a class officer in high school in Iowa. He played played football in college. He got married, had a daughter, and worked at Hormel for 31 years, according to the Winona Daily News. He even served on his community’s city council. He did all of that without knowing how to read.

He finally learned when he was 54. “My life has been a negative, and it turned around into a positive,” he told the paper. “By sharing my life, I want to let others know that you can find happiness, have a better life and find hope.”


It wasn’t long ago that employers were hard-pressed to find enough people to work for them. Those days, of course, are gone but MPR’s Annie Baxter has another story that makes one pine for the old days.

She profiles an increasing tendency of employers to make would-be employees jump through hoops to “audition” and, in the process, give them creative ideas they don’t have to pay for.

She found people who have spent weeks putting creative presentations together, only to see the job go to an internal candidate. What do you suppose happens to those ideas?

A few years ago, the New York Times raised a red flag about this practice, finding that employers sometimes stole the work of job candidates.

“I remember, in particular, one well-known publisher I interviewed with had a Web site and gave me a homework assignment — ‘Go home and tell me what would make us more profitable and successful,’ ” one man told the paper. “I invested four to five hours in it, turned it in and never heard from them again. About a month later, I saw some of my ideas on their Web site.”


In 2011, Abenbola Somoy and her five-year-old daughter Konnisola fled Nigeria’s growing violence. Somoy’s husband was already dead. Her brother-in-law beat her daughter. So she used paid smugglers to get her to Toronto. Three days after applying for refugee status, she collapsed. She had advanced colon cancer.

There was nowhere for her daughter to go. That’s when an oncology nurse stepped forward.

This CBC documentary runs 27 minutes, but it might just be what Monday ordered.

Bonus I: Coffee for the cancer patients.

Bonus II: In the UK, a parent complained to police after gory Halloween decorations on a house scared their child enough to make the kid cry. So the cops told the homeowner to take the decorations down (SkyNews).

Bonus III: Return of hunting jacket — cash and wallet intact — proves ‘still good people in the world’ (West Central Tribune).

Bonus IV: Is divorce contagious? (Pew Research Center)

Bonus V: Supporters of a student bullied in school confronted his bully outside of school demanding an apology. He got an apology. (KATU)


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Political Junkie — Ken Rudin — with post-shutdown analysis.

Second hour: The problems with the U.S. foster care system.

Third hour: Talking Volumes with young persons author Rick Riordan.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): James Goodale, former New York Times attorney giving a recent Silha Lecture at U of M: “The Lessons of the Pentagon Papers: Has Obama Learned Them?”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – The state of the Affordable Care Act. A look at the health exchange roll out and why so many are finding it so hard to sign up for insurance.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Curtis Gilbert profiles Jackie Cherryhomes, who was once the powerful president of the Minneapolis City Council. More than a decade after narrowly losing her seat on the council, Cherryhomes is now running to be the city’s next mayor.

Conservation Corps and Nature Conservancy workers will remove about 100 cedar trees from the bluffs of southeastern Minnesota and use the trunks to help stabilize the banks of the South Fork of the Root River, which has suffered a lot of erosion this year. The process is used to help stabilize rivers in other parts of the Midwest. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will have the story.

Sales this year could reach $2 billion in the U.S. And without FDA regulation, the market is a free for all. NPR looks at the debate over e-cigarettes: public health remedy, or problem?

  • MrE85

    Bob, NewsCut and the Monday Morning Rouser are back. Happy Monday, everyone!

  • jaime

    Yay! Bob is back! And he brought the rouser with him. 🙂

    #4: I totally understand a more lengthy interview process, but I am skeptical of having people put together things like full marketing plans. It sounds like they are using people to generate ideas without having to pay them. Not sure how I would handle a request like that. I wonder if you could somehow copyright your ideas to protect yourself.

    Bonus I: saw the clip on Sunday Morning and loved it. It’s good to be reminded of how small acts of kindness can go along way. We should all have as big of heart as Dan, and it’s a nice change from the *&%# that’s going on in our nation’s capital. Perhaps Starbucks will step up and give him some love (in the form of cash).

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I am not a lawyer so confirm this before you try. If you produce something like a marketing plan you can print a copy and send it to yourself via certified mail and keep the envelope sealed with the postmark on it. This can then be produced as proof as to when it was created. (on or before the postmark date) You could then challenge someone for stealing your idea if you wanted to.

      • jaime

        I’m not in job search mode right now, so thankfully I don’t need to do this. However, I just find it sad that you’d actually need to consult a lawyer to complete the job interview process! Additionally, if I were in need of a job, a lawyer fee would be the last thing I’d want to pay. But I think you’re right – you’d have to take steps to protect yourself.

      • Sonya Burke

        It’s called a poor man’s copyright. Won’t hold up in court, unfortunately.

  • Jim G

    Welcome back, Bob! #2. I’m wondering if the Fargo City Council, Mayor, and the Cass County Commissioners are aware of this appalling hole in the government services they provide for their citizens. If they are, and still won’t provide the funding for a proper county morgue, then I suggest they should be at least willing to store a body or two in their garages on a rotating basis.

  • bp

    Re: #2–if you follow the link, you’ll see that the City of Fargo has already contributed a couple million to the new City/County Public Health facility. At this point, it’s the county (and rural-based commissioners) who are balking at contributing their share for the morgue.

  • Jennifer Halgren

    Welcome back Bob! Good news today.

  • C

    Welcome Back!

  • joetron2030

    Welcome back, Bob!

  • Christin

    Welcome back Bob!

    The thing that’s most frustrating about #1 in today’s NewsCut is that if you have a student who truly does have ADHD you are judged by well-intentioned people saying it’s a “fake” disorder for advocating appropriate accommodations…and judged as well as by those who push medications for wanting a wholistic approach.

    There’s a child I know who is intelligent, works hard, and struggles significantly w/ADHD. Beyond the supports she received in school, this child receives weekly occupational therapy, tutoring, & works with a psychologist. This is costing her mom thousands of dollars but is worth every penny based on the demonstrated improvement in the child’s self esteem, social skills, and academics. The mother is doing all she can to help the child learn to self-regulate & develop appropriate tools to manage her ADHD when she reaches an age of maturity.

    There are many gifted children who struggle with the assembly line style of US education and parents of these kids are constantly looking for schools, resources, and teachers that will keep their kids engaged in learning. Some of these kids have ADHD, many of them simply are not capable of acting like tiny adults. Unfortunately, looking for solutions often requires significant time & resources, a luxury many parents do not have. The fact that conditions are such that over-diagnosis & medication as a whole solution for ADHD (instead of PART of the solution) preys upon families who are truly trying to do right by their kids.

    I’m a bit perplexed about the over-medication of kids, particularly those who may be falsely ID’d as ADHD. If you give Ritalin or one if it’s many cousins to a person w/out ADHD wouldn’t it have the opposite effect of it’s intended purpose, and wouldn’t that be glaringly obvious pretty immediately?

    • Veronica

      There was a segment on The Daily Circuit about Ritalin some time last year. It turns out that ANYONE will do better on Ritalin, period. It’s why college kids take it. The main point of that show was that reaction to medication does not prove a diagnosis.

  • Cat Zadra

    Welcome back, Bob! We missed you!

    That Rouser was great. I’m not the biggest fan of bluegrass, but I can recognize when it’s well-done, and I’m a big fan of covers done in something other than their original genre. That was a great listen.

    #1 – The flip side of the “ADHD is overdiagnosed” issue (and I think that’s probably true) is that some parents are now reluctant to get their kid screened for the disorder for fear that they will be seen as trying to medicate their kid rather than parent them.

    #2 – I think Jim G has the right idea.