How goes it?!
It’s currently pouring rain in the Sunshine State, as it does for nearly half of the year. -_- I was hoping for some tan lines and sand castles on this day off of work. Even though the majority of my beach time is spent carrying heavy children around. Oh, well. 😉
I particularly like taking Jace to the beach, well of course I love taking Zo too, but with Jace there is an ulterior motive.
And here’s why…
The Nature Deficit Disorder is complex, but this is my understanding of it as it pertains to Jace and other children like him.
Jace is what some might call “hyperactive,” as he displays more hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention than most other children at a similar level of development. I personally, despise the label. And this post excepted, never refer to him as such, like ever. Jace can also be hyper sensitive to some stimulants, which led to our recommendation for Autism spectrum disorder testing. He is not autistic, but he is “hyperactive,” and if you’re not new here, you know I prefer to call him “feisty.”
Somehow it seems more fitting, less stigmatic, and honestly…more specific in regards to his behavior. He’s not sweetly hyper, he’s a spitfire with an attitude bigger than he can handle sometimes… feisty.
Now back to the matter at hand. The Nature Deficit Disorder as it applies to MY life, refers to the massive increase in children diagnosed with ADHD. To cite some dated statistics (which I’m sure have only increased anyway… between 1990-1995 the prescription of Ritalin and Dexedrine (adoral) to children increased 600%. SIX HUNDRED. And those stats are 20 years old now folks. Insanity. To cite some slightly newer statistics… the diagnosis of ADHD in preschoolers increased 369% between the years of 2000-2003.
Now, I would personally attest some of this to over diagnosis. (I’m sure you’re surprised.) Some of it can be explained by a societal change, and lack of influence on children spending time outside. Children who regularly spend hours in front of the tv are more likely to develop attention deficits. (I’m sure you’re surprised again.) 😉
Adults suffer as well. There is a plethora of research to support the existence of the Nature Deficit Disorder. The increase in ADHD diagnoses coincides with a national decrease in recess and PE time for small children.
Parents of children with severe cases of ADHD attest to the successfulness of outdoor IN NATURE behavioral therapy. And I don’t just mean outside, whether or not you’re standing on concrete, matters. The more greenery, the better.
Other evidence supporting the connection between hyperactivity and nature include;
- Children with ADHD demonstrate less difficulty paying attention when seated near windows, where they can see fields and trees of greenry
- Adults who study outside understand and retain more information than those who do not
- Many parents attest that sports help to control their child’s hyperactivity, sports are usually played outside
- Judges who prefer alternative punishment have found success in programs that isolate juveniles from society and submerge them in remote native lands, as in Ketchikan Alaska.
I know it sounds kind of crazy on the surface, but think about it. Just intuitively we encourage our children to play outside. When they are running amuck inside, you take them out. There was a time when the majority of the country resided in rural settings, where interaction with nature was all but required for daily tasks. As society progresses children spend more and more time inside, as close to the electrical outlets as they can get. Is it really all that shocking that there has been such a stark increase in kids that can’t pay attention?
There is a reason that Central Park holds such a profound sway over the citizens of New York City, the only nature in the world famous concrete jungle. I have witnessed this sensation myself, in my own child.
But I had never really consciously thought about it in such a concrete way before. He is calmer when he is outside. His mood is better, the longer he plays outside. His level of irritability greatly reduced by sunshine and fresh cut grass.
I have always known that I would never medicate Jace. I do believe the medication to be necessary for some, and if it works for you and your family I am happy for you. But for me, it is a temporary solution for something that my son will have to learn to manage for his whole life. If you research the Nature Deficit Disorder further, it presents some really cool alternative options for children like mine.
So here’s me promising Jace more outside play, more walks, even more beach time, and more patience when I can’t.
What do you think? Do you think our hyper connected world has yielded attention deficits in our children? And do you think more interaction with nature could really help?