Dr Michael Gurian is a clinical psychologist, counsellor, speaker and author in the field of brain science and child development.  He founded the Gurian Institute which trains professionals and parents to teach boys and girls using methods that respond to their different wiring. 

He is the author of numerous books. In this podcast, Dr Gurian cites the following of his books:

  1. Saving Our Sons
  2. The Wonder of Boys
  3. The Minds of Girls

All of these are available on Amazon and wherever you purchase books.

Dr Gurian has a podcast called The Wonder of Parenting, which he co-hosts with Tim Wright.

A Few Extra Notes about this Episode…

Genetics Reviewed

Remember learning about genetics? Well, we talk a lot about this in this episode, especially the sex chromosomes. Here’s a summary:

Every human being has a full genetic code in every single cell of their body. Variations in this code is what makes each of us unique. The entire code is grouped into 23 pairs of chromosomes. One pair of chromosomes is known as the sex chromosomes: males are XY and females are XX. Every cell in the body normally contains this sex chromosome combination and determines your sex. These chromosomes determine your physical sex characteristics, including sex organs such as the testes and ovaries.  Male and female sex organs produce different hormones, so males are exposed to higher levels of testosterone from the testes and girls are exposed to higher levels of female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries.

Brain Scans and Brain Function

We talk in this podcast about brain scans. The most commonly used brain scans are CT scans (also called “CAT” scans) which refers to computed tomography and MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging). A CT scan uses X-ray beams which go through the body at various angles and these signals are then used to reconstruct a 2-d or 3-d image of the internal organs and tissues. An MRI uses magnetic fields to do the same thing, but creates the image using signals from the tissue’s response to magnetic fields. The brain scans which Dr Gurian talks about are generally functional MRI images. These images don’t just create pictures of the physical brain structure or anatomy, but also “light up” areas that are activated at the time the scan is done. So, if you ask someone to think or do something, the area of the brain involved in that activity “lights up”. This is how we can study the brain to detect the different areas of the brain that are engaged when boys and girls are doing certain tasks. 

For more information on engaging your child’s brain while parenting, we also recommend that you refer to The Whole Brain Child by Dr Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

ADHD

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This is one of the disorders we talk about in this podcast with Dr Gurian. We talk about it in the context of boys being diagnosed more frequently because they have a natural tendency to need to move around more than girls tend to. This is seen to cause more problems, especially in the traditional classroom setting. 

There are criteria for an ADHD diagnosis which make the diagnosis appear to be objective. But in reality, the assessments are subjective too because they depend on parent and teacher questionnaires. There is no scan or blood test that can diagnose ADHD.

They key to the diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder is that there has to be an impaired ability to carry out every day functions. Even this is a very subjective standard, and one has to wonder whether rates of ADHD diagnosis would decrease if classrooms were set up to accommodate the learning differences between boys and girls.  These differences are seen in groups of boys and girls when you view them overall, but as Dr. Gurian says the exception rate is about 1 in 5, but the exception proves the rule.

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