Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and Boys
One of the more disturbing statistics produced by our schools concerns the fact that boys are diagnosed with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in much greater numbers than girls – anywhere from 3 to 1 up to 10 to 1. If you assume that all these problems are due to brain abnormalities or neurological chemical imbalances, such statistics don’t make sense. Why would boys suffer these sorts of biological defects so much more often than girls?
A more sensible explanation focuses on socialization. Traditionally, we encourage our little boys to engage in a lot of boisterous large muscle activity – run, jump, throw, climb, etc. Meanwhile, we encourage our little girls to engage in a lot of quiet small muscle activity – have tea parties with your dolls and dress them in tiny outfits. What is school all about? That’s right. Quiet small muscle activities. Girls are well prepared for this, but for boys it typically is like hitting a brick wall.
It is interesting – and alarming – that in recent years we have gone a long way with regard to providing our little girls with a more balanced socialization experience. They are now encouraged to run, jump, throw, and climb like the boys; and consequently, they now enjoy all the benefits of engaging in boisterous large muscle activities. Unfortunately, it is still rare that our little boys are getting a more balanced socialization experience.
That is why Romp n’ Roll – from the earliest Gym classes to the Art, Music, and Adventure classes – is so critically important, especially for boys. While the boys get to “be boys” and do all the things that boys traditionally do, they also get a gradual introduction to and steadily increasing practice in the kind of structure, serenity, and small muscle tasks they will be expected to cope with in school. Through this special kind of fun, fascinating, free-form play they are not only enhancing their potential for educational success, they also are being inoculated against educational problems many of their male peers will face in the future.