“Window-watching Wendy” and the history of ADHD: An Interview with Matthew Smith

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Listen
to the podcast here at the audio file below or on Stitcher here,  on iTunes here

Read the transcript at the link below the audio file.

 

 

 

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Transcript by Julie Ann Lee: Transcript_Matthew_Smith_Noncompliant

Bio
Matthew Smith is Professor of Health History within the Centre for the Social History of Healthcare. He is Vice Dean Research for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde. He has written many books about the history of medicine, including two about ADHD and Another Person’s Poison: A History of Food Allergy –as well as co-editing the 2016 collection: Deinstitutionalisation and After: Post-War Psychiatry in the Western World (2016).

The episode
Matthew Smith is an expert on the history of the ADHD diagnosis, which emerged out of the late 1950s, when researchers broadened this area of diagnosis and Americans were living in the era of the Sputnik satellites and the attendant anxiety around the “space race.” This, along with demographic and economic changes, all had a significant impact on education policy priorities in the US. Shifts in the field of child psychiatry and in psychopharmacology also played a big role.

Classroom environments changed dramatically in the 1950s. Kids had to adapt to these changes; some could and some could not. All of these factors came together to create the perfect storm for an “ADHD epidemic,” a further diagnostic expansion and an uptick in prescription for Ritalin and like drugs.

Matthew talks about the trajectory of the ADHD diagnosis in the last half of the 20th century and shifts in child psychology as well as Ritalin marketing and sales. We also discuss the impact of society’s responses to ADHD in kids, as well as the problem of teaching to the test and the current use of ADHD drugs for performance-enhancement or as an “easy fix” replacement for meaningful inclusion. As Matt says: “The knee jerk reaction is to consider that it’s the child that’s wrong and is at fault for whatever reason — ‘something in their brain is not firing correctly’–  and we turn to drugs. And I think one very simple change that I would like to see is if we saw Ritalin as the last resort, rather than the first resort.”

I also ask Matt about a program he is involved in: a pilot project in Musselburgh, Scotland where many children had been receiving the ADHD diagnosis. The school principal there chose to “change the ethos in the school” and commit to an inclusion-based model. They modified the school to be inclusive, with a series of 10 projects that the students take on, none of which cost much to do and all of which were sustainable.

As Matt notes: “It [isn’t] a whole bunch of intensive interventions. These were actually quite simple things that the school took on board to make considerable difference”. At the school, children are being taught with more hands-on learning (including producing a podcast series!) As well, the school undertook a popular new program in Scottish schools called the Daily Mile, where kids get more physical play time and breaks. The EAs also took on a radical new role (Listen to learn more about the pilot project!).

As a result of all of these changes, “the school saw a real reduction in referrals to psychiatric services as well as academic improvement.”

Links
Professor Smith’s blog on Psychology Today

Professor Smith’s book, Hyperactive, The Controversial History of ADHD

Hyperactive Child, song and lyrics

New York Times series about ADHD drugs in America

 

 

 

 

“It’s scamming parents–and through that the children are suffering”: Interview with Emma Dalmayne

Screenshot_20190428-002122_GoogleListen to the podcast on the audio clip below, or on Stitcher here and iTunes here.

Read the transcript, below the audio file.

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Transcript by Julie Ann Lee: transcript_Dalmayne_Noncompliant_podcast

Bio:  Emma Dalmayne is a mom of six, a home educator and co-founder of Autistic Inclusive Meets, which organizes meetups for autistics of all ages, as well as activist actions on issues that impact the community and advocacy at the governmental level.

Emma leads a UK-based campaign against autism pseudoscience: her work on autism pseudoscience established the groundwork for the UK Parliament to begin working towards regulation and enforcement against phony autism cures. Autism pseudoscience is a human rights issue. Right now, lax proxy consent laws and an absence of regulation and enforcement has allowed providers and parents to give autistic children “treatments” that could kill them. As the UK government concluded in its report: “Health care fraud is big business and autism is one of its many targets.”

Eating in the 4th Dimension: Interview with Alan Levinovitz

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Listen to the episode by clicking the audio link below, on Stitcher here on iTunes here.
Read the transcript below the audio.

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Transcript by Julie Ann Lee: transcript_Noncompliant_Alan_Levinovitz

Bio
Professor Alan Levinovitz is an associate professor of religious studies at James Madison University. He specializes in classical Chinese philosophy and the relationship between religion and science. In addition to scholarly articles, he is the author of The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths about What You Eat –and The Limits of Religious Tolerance. He has also appeared on the Netflix series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. His next book is about how nature gets treated like God.

The episode
Alan and I discussed how the desire for empowering rituals around food can be twisted by marketers to sell a product or a plan, such as the GAPS, DAN or MAPS diets. We also talked about the negative impact of restrictive diets on individuals; the problem with proxy consent; the idea of battle in the language around autism parenting; the inaccessibility of medical jargon; the need for #ActuallyAutistic voices in autism organizations– and so much more. Alan also discussed food restrictions within traditional explanatory framework/context of world religions and talked about the commodification of rituals: incredibly interesting!

As Alan said: “We need to reframe the whole narrative of how we understand autism and need to make sure there are more and different resources in place for parents. …A part of the solution to these problems will be changing the context in which parents and children are receiving autism diagnoses and changing the framing narrative that people use to understand those diagnoses. If we can do that we would really go a long way towards improving things for everyone.”

Thank you, Alan!

Useful links
Interview with Alan Levinovitz

The Gluten Lie

 

“Neurodiversity is not an opinion. It’s a living fact” : Interview with Steve Silberman

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Steve Silberman

 
Listen to the episode by clicking the audio link below or on Stitcher here,  iTunes here

Read the transcript below this audio file.


Transcribed by Julie Ann Lee: Transcript_ SteveSilberman-Noncompliant
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Bio
Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and many other publications. His book NeuroTribes became a widely-praised bestseller, winning the 2015 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction and was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Economist, The Independent and many others. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism,” has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 35 languages. He lives with his husband Keith in San Francisco, where he is working on a new book, The Taste of Salt (discussed in this podcast).

The impact of Neurotribes
Neurotribes
really changed the public conversation about autism in some radical ways. It meticulously traces the history of the autism diagnosis, synthesizing a forgotten history of the residential institution era, while also giving detail and context to competing notions of the diagnosis in the medical literature across time (and the impact of that competition). The book traces shifting understandings of autism in society, explaining how medicine, culture and grassroots activism came together for both a rise in diagnosis and new understandings about autism and neurodiversity.  Neurotribes creates a context for what we see today: how our social institutions and media interpret, respond and portray autism. 

The episode
Since writing Neurotribes, Steve continues to speak and write about autism, but always with a mind to refer to “the real experts”: autistic people. We talked about this, as well as his new book project; neurodiversity; autistic history; platforms of communication; states of being; the rise of false news and our need for honesty; inspiring new youth movements; and the power of continuing the work of social justice when we have no choice but to carry on.

Links from the podcast:
Greta Thunberg: Profile

Dara McAnulty’s blog

Interview with Steve Silberman: The Sun Magazine

Steve Silberman’s TED Talk: The Forgotten History of Autism


Steve Silberman’s webpage