Kids On Speed? is a factual and fly-on-the-wall series which follows five children who are suspected to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a powerful and revealing show that looks at this much-maligned, misunderstood and stigmatised illness that has been met with controversy (due to its resulting in more children being medicated). This documentary attempts to inform and debunk some myths associated with this disorder. It also manages to cover a lot of ground but it could have been a longer series and a little bit more comprehensive in detail.
The series is written, directed and produced by Marc Radomsky. It follows four families who have reached the ends of their tethers with their hyperactive, misbehaving and unruly children. They all agree to take part in a nine-week, multidisciplinary program where psychological behaviour therapies are combined with learning strategies and medication (if it is deemed necessary). One thing this series fails to describe is the impact the child’s diet is possibly having on their underlying condition.
The first episode introduces the children. Seth is an impulsive six year old who has young parents and his father Ryan was diagnosed with ADHD when he was the same age as his son. There are the siblings, Emily (11) and Samuel (6) who come from a large family and who constantly fight, scream and egg each other on. James is an emotionally immature, ten year old who has a terrible temper and violent streak and Corey (7) is now home-schooled after he threatened to hurt the kids at school (as well as himself). This initial episode covers the fortnight that was dedicated to assessing and diagnosing the children using evidence from home and at school and against the recognised diagnostic criteria.
The experts leading this program are: psychologist Prof. Mark Dadds, educational specialist, Dr. Samantha Hornery and paediatrician and ADHD Expert, Prof. Michael Kohn. After working together and with the children for two weeks they diagnose Seth with severe Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), mild ADHD and possible sleep deprivation while Samuel and Emily have ADHD which has most likely developed into ODD. Corey has ADHD, ODD, severe anxiety and possible autism. James is the most difficult child to diagnose but they initially think he has emotional immaturity and ODD.
This documentary series reveals how the parents have to be retrained in the areas of discipline, rewards and praise as well as being consistent with the child and a united force with each other. In some cases, they see some very positive results and this is often through a combination of behavioural strategies and medication. An issue with the series is that there is no postscript to describe what happened (including any further successes or relapses) following the conclusion of filming.
Ultimately, Kids On Speed? is a challenging social experiment that is very honest and revealing and will no doubt resonate with parents and friends of children who have ADHD and/or ODD. It’s not a definitive documentary by any means and it could have been longer (three hours seems short to condense five children’s lives for nine weeks). Despite this, it is still a thought-provoking, engaging and informative analysis of the trials and tribulations of a complex disorder, whose cause is not yet known and one that is only becoming increasingly more prevalent in society.
Originally published on 08 September 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/09/08/tv-dvd-review-kids-on-speed-australia-2014/
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