Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ADHD - It Is Real, Folks!

I have four children. They all have their own personalities, their own way of looking at things, their own level of activity and their own way of learning.  My six year old son is, by far, the calmest child I have.  He will sit for however long I need him to, in order to be taught whatever I want to teach him.  If he is not sick with a headache, then he pays good attention and, for the most part, puts effort into whatever his assignment is.  My four year old is, well, four.  She does and acts exactly like you would expect a four year old to act.   She can do school for about a half hour before she *needs* to get down and go play.  My seven year old daughter is a little more active in her learning.  She likes to wiggle and jiggle and talk and talk.  She benefits from sitting on an exercise ball and tends to be more excitable.  Her work trends toward messy and she is distracted quite easily.

Then there is my 12 year old.  She has ADHD.  For all of you who doubt that ADHD is real and pass judgment on those parents who have children with ADHD, I implore you to open your minds to the possibility that it is real.

ADHD can be more than inattentiveness and hyperactivity.  Here are some of the symptoms:

  • impulsiveness
  • inattentiveness
  • constantly in motion
  • messy
  • disorganized
  • not responsive to detail
  • inability to be organized
  • inability to control behavior
  • inability to focus
  • seemingly unable to hear your, even when spoken to directly
A child who is a normal, active learner, can be frustrating for a person who is more of a verbal learner/teacher.  Those parents may wonder if their child has ADHD, because they don't understand the thought process and learning style of the active learner.  My seven year old is an active learner.  She doesn't have ADHD.

My 12 year old struggles to learn, no matter the method of teaching.  She is impulsive beyond belief.  She struggles to control herself.  This means she lies - even when the truth may be better, she leaves things halfway done, she makes decisions that leaves me scratching my head, she can not seem to keep her room clean, she frequently disobeys, she can not seem to "get it together", she is overly emotional, she has a short fuse, she has frequent outbursts of frustration, she loses everything, she can not remember anything, she literally is in motion at the most inappropriate times, she talks and talks and talks and doesn't seem to be able to stop.

She is on medication.

Some think it is an evil toxin, I think it is a miracle.
And the medicine?  It works.  She is better. She can learn. She gets things accomplished. She is easier to live with. She doesn't lie excessively.  She can concentrate on her schoolwork. She can follow directions. She can find things. She is sweet, helpful, and obedient.

So many people have the answer to her ADHD and judge me, harshly for having her on medication.  To them I say, "Walk a mile in my shoes.  Take my child for a week.  Tell me what worked for you with her.  I don't care what worked for you with your kid, your neighbor's brother's uncle's kid. They are not my kid.  I have heard it all.  Change their diet. Take out the sugar, red dye, processed foods, switch to organics, never eat out again, take the wheat out of your diet, take the carbs out of her diet, and so on and so forth. I love how people suggest this, as if it were simple.  If I took everything people told me to take out of her diet, I think she may be able to eat grass, as long as a dog didn't pee on it and it did not get rained on.

Caprese Salad?  I don't know... is the cheese made from pastured, grass fed, organic, raw cow's milk?  
Another one of my favorites is when people blame it on the vaccines she received as a child.  That is especially unhelpful.  Number one, I had no choice but to vaccinate her, as she was a foster child. Number two, even if I did have the option at the time, what am I supposed to do? Unvaccinate her?  It is not helpful to tell me or any other parent what we *should* have done if it is nothing we can change. (For the record, I do vaccinate, willingly.)

ADHD is real.  Is it over diagnosed? Maybe, probably.  But, not at my house.

I think my point in all of this is to just ask all of you who doubt to quit Googling ADHD cures and talk to a mom of a child with the disorder, with an open mind, and without your "helpful" suggestions - unless she asks of course - and then tread cautiously and don't throw a lot of information her way.  

Secondly, I want to encourage you moms out there with kids that have ADHD.  You can do it.  You have not failed. Keep on fighting the good fight. :)  If one of the tools in your shed is medication, do not feel badly about giving it.  If the tool is counseling, do not feel badly about taking them.  If you suspect that your kid has ADHD, then it is ok to seek medical help.

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Dana from CA said...

yes it is real!! We have just gone through 2 years of trying to find out why our daughter seems unable to learn simple things like basic math facts, but could explain in detail most animal habitats. The last year has been frought with anxiety and emotional outburts that seem to come out of nowhere. My daughter is not hyperactive at all but has plenty of other issues. Finally having found a wonderful tutor, she came to me after meeting with my daughter just twice and said have you ever considered ADD. Why no I hadn't having mistakenly thought of hyperactivity as a major factor. Through her nudging and a fantastic educational psy. we have finally come across her issue. She is highly distractable by anything!! We have just started down the med path... but at least now I feel I have a start in how to help her.... Thank you for your post.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is definitely real! And no, it is not the parent's fault - there's nothing a person can do to "make" their child have ADD/ADHD.

Who knows? Having ADD/ADHD may be a blessing from God which could have an important impact on your future.

Elisabeth said...

I love this post! my daughter was diagnosed with ADD this year. She is in public school and I was anaware of the problems she was having for along time. She had trouble in 1st grade but we just hoped it was an immature learning ability or something and she would grow out of it. 2nd grade has only brought on more trouble for her. Her teacher was not helpful in any way. I did not know until half way thru the year when I scheduled an appt with her teacher on my own that she was being moved around the class constantly, going to work hall every day to work on the stack of papers that was just piling up and never getting any smaller (hence the bad grades). Some days she wouldn't even get her name down on paper. After that meeting, we decided to do further testing and she scored the highest score possible for ADD. I was totally against medication at first and even had a teacher/friend tell me there was no such thing as ADD. According to her and some study, it is just about the way she is being taught. Well, regardless, we couldn't find any other alternative. Her teacher obviously wasn't going to change her teaching style after 30 yrs of teaching. So we tried the medication (focalin). She made such a turn around, it was amazing! She now gets all her work done in class and rarely has howework. She says school isn't boring anymore. Her grades didn't get much better and since we didn't get things figured out until more than halfway thru the school year, we decided she should repeat 2nd grade. That was honestly probably a harder decision than putting her on medication! Praise God we have it figured out now! I never thought it would be me who had a child with ADD but I definetly have more sympathy for other parents like myself!

Jessica said...

When my daughter was in public school she could not function - at all! We put her on several different medications before we found a combination that worked. It was certainly a relief to know that she was being helped!!

Cathy said...

Yes, it is real. And, sometimes, some of those "cures" help... and sometimes they don't. Like autism, there is a spectrum with ADHD. My husband has it, and it really made school tough for him. Unfortunately, there wasn't testing or any help then. My step-daughter has it, and we've been able to use a tutor instead of meds to help her, but she still struggles. My two youngest show signs, to differing degrees, and so far I've been able to work around it in our homeschool. But my youngest is only 5, and I don't know what challenges may await.

Diane Hurst said...

Glad that you have found a medication that will help her. I'm an alternative health person, but know there are sometimes when being on a prescribed medicine is necessary. If it doesn't help, then that's a different story . . . :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this post. My son is 10 and we could tell even from a very very young age that he was different in many ways activity and attention and sensory wise compared to other kids his age. He was diagnosed with adhd by a neuro psychologist at 4 1/2 and then "confirmed" again by a clinical psychologist at 8. And like many kiddos with adhd he later also ended up being diagnosed with additional learning delays though he's absolutely brilliant, his brain just processes things differently (dysgraphia and working memory, although working memory issues are very typical of children with ADD). I would highly encourage parents of children with ADD/ADHD to be on the look out for additional learning needs/potential diagnosis'. The last time I read a legitimate article about "co-occurring disorders" with ADD/ADHD, I believe the statistic was 85% of kiddos with ADD or ADHD also have a co-existing learning and/or psychiatric disorder. I advocated for my son in school for years to no avail. Sure enough, he ended up getting more and more behind when he hit 2nd grade and more was expected of him and that is when a clinical psychologist (instead of the school which had been useless truthfully) diagnosed him also with dysgraphia and processing issues.

I love my children more than anything in the world. But as a mom who is CONSTANTLY trying to find what works best for her child to help him succeed, I'd get furious with all the constant opinions of what I could do differently. And I'd have the same thoughts of "fine, take him for a week and you let me know how well you do and what miraculous solutions you come up with." But even in all the judgement I feel at times, and the stress of it, I think what tears me up the most is knowing my sweet boys heart, and realizing that others don't always get to understand and see him like I do. They just see behavior and non compliance and difficulty and lack of attention and impulsiveness, etc. etc. etc. We are very natural focused in treatment but frankly we've tried a long list of supplements and diet changes and sensory input. We've tried multiple prescriptive meds at varying doses with nothing but awful side effects. To anyone who thinks it's a parents fault their child has these difficulties, I wouldn't just ask them to show compassion on that parent... but also, for crying out loud, instead of constantly judging that child and immediately labeling a child as having "behavior problems", just try to also show compassion on him or her as well. I always think of ADHD, especially when it is significant in all subtypes of ADHD like my son, to be kind of an invisible special need. People are less patient with him because they do not see an obvious physical reason or obvious special need that can explain what's going on. I value my sons amazing qualities and who he is, but it also impacts his ability to function the same as everyone else. And truthfully, I'm not sure I care to a certain extent - because we can figure out what works for HIM. I think I care more that others care he isn't like everyone else and I wish they'd just give the poor kid some breathing room and room for error and learning instead of expecting him to be perfect and always quiet and always well behaved. That is what gets old frankly.