Thursday, November 15, 2007

Are you paying attention?

I am a very orderly person.

Not in my house or at my desk at work or in my car. Those are places only the very brave dare to go.

But definitely in my head.

My brain is orderly. My ideas take a logical route from beginning to fruition. I can start -- and finish -- a thought. Most of the time, I can even finish a project!

But I am surrounded by those who can't.

My husband, my oldest son, the Roo-girl and my BFF -- all of them have varying degrees of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

My BFF describes my world like this:

"Your mind is like a flock of geese -- all the thoughts fly in formation."

And hers like this:

"Mine is like a beehive. Everything is buzzing around, and if I think of something, I have to grab that bee because if I don't, it will fly away and be gone."

The other day I saw yet another story about ADD and ADHD on the news. I don't even remember what the gist of the story was, but I know what caught my attention.

The thing that always always, always comes up in a discussion of this topic:

We're overmedicating our kids.

This is a topic that aggravates me in a major league way because it downplays the role that medication can play in creating normalcy for a kid who really is ADHD.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I've heard it all -- about how teachers want malleable, compliant kids in their classrooms and want parents to medicate unnecessarily, blah blah blah.

But the "overmedicating our kids" bandwagon hurts those who really need it.

My personal experience with medication runs the gamut from "ok" to "wow." But would I withhold medication from an ADD child? No more than I would withhold an inhaler from the asthmatic Drama King.

My oldest son, the Drummer, is a fairly mild case. We attempted to medicate him when he was in school, but side effects ultimately were worse than the disease. He is doing well without it now, though sometimes he says he still thinks about trying it again.

The Roo-girl was diagnosed at the end of third grade, a crushingly difficult year that left us both panting with frustration. Enter Adderall, and fourth grade became her best school experience ever -- until sixth grade, when she made straight A's for the entire year. And has made the honor roll for three semesters.

The Wonderhubby is a pretty severe case, but he is a different generation. Back in the olden days in small-town middle America, they didn't know what to do with kids who couldn't sit still.

So in the first grade, they taped him to his desk.

When he told me this story -- which he, frankly, doesn't remember and only knows because he was told later -- I was aghast, appalled, astonished, angry. You name the word starting with "a" and I was that.

His mother went to school to stop this atrocity, and much testing at big universities ensued. But did they give him medication? No. Should they have? He wonders to this day. In fact, wouldn't that have been kinder than the desk incident?

Medication isn't for everyone. It bothered more than helped the Drummer. But the difference in the Roo-girl is quantifiable.

And what kind of parent would I be if I had subscribed to the "anti-medication" theory?

When I look at her accomplishments -- and I remember Wonderhubby's struggles -- I shudder to think.


melodyann said...
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Simple Chic said...

My hubby has ADHD and has gone back on his meds after several years of being off of them. I see the difference, and I admit that they are best for him. I however am one of those people who doesn't believe in using meds unless they are ABSOLUTELY necessary. When Hubby wanted to go back on his meds I asked him to get a brain scan first. My experience has been that many other things can cause the symptoms of ADHD, and unless a neurological test is done, you can't know for 100% if it really is ADHD. I know most people won't agree with me on that, but I managed to avoid putting my son on Adderall by getting the test done. His problem turned out to be an allergy. I'm glad it worked for you, Janet. I just prefer 100% certainty.

Jenni said...

I don't know if it's so much overmedicating (for ADD/ADHD) as overdiagnosing. What I mean is that I believe there are some kids who are diagnosed as ADD/ADHD who never should be--and probably some who aren't who should be as well. Then there are kids who are more mildly ADD/ADHD and have the medication pushed on them when other methods may have worked. I've known a few of those personally and I could tell you some sad stories there. Some kids do better with the meds and they should have access to them.

The most important thing is to look at each child as an individual and assess his/her needs on an individual basis rather than lumping them into some group diagnosis and treatment. I've seen teachers and administrators that were all too quick to jump on the medication bandwagon just to make their jobs easier. That is not keeping the child's interests as the priority. That is laziness. And I do understand the frustrations that can come with trying to teach an ADD/ADHD child.

I don't think it's ever right for a school to *require* that a child be put on meds when the parents are working to deal with ADD/ADHD in other ways. I know two boys this happened to. One boy's parents decided to homeschool him and continue working with him in other ways. One boy's parents could not afford to have a parent stay at home to teach him and put him back on the meds, though they did not like the change they saw.

My 17yo and 14yo cousins are both on meds for ADD (one cousin) and ADHD (other cousin). They need the meds, and the meds work for them. It's such an individual thing.

Someone has to care enough and take the time to look at each child individually. I feel badly for parents who feel pressured by doctors or schools to medicate their children. I feel badly for parents who know their child needs the medication but are pressured by other people and made to feel bad for their decision. I hope that each parent will be smart enough to research all the options and strong enough to choose what is right for *their* child. And I'm glad you found the right answer for both of yours. That story about your dh being taped to his desk pisses me off, too!

Phoenix said...

I think it depends on the person. My step-brother could not function without it. He had to have it. No one could stand him off of it. In fact, I'd probably like him a ton more, if he were on it now.

Now my niece, we took her off all sugar and she's done a ton better. But she has always been able to concentrate in school, so that wasn't the problem, it was more her leval of activity at home.

I'm with you, if they need it, 'd do it in a heart beat. But I do believe some parents and doctors do it, because it's easier and that sucks.

Kaytabug said...

I know I commented on this when it first appeared, maybe I did it on a different post...but I remember saying that what happened to your hubby made me cry and full of rage at the same I am wondering if you mentioned what happened to the hubs in a second post.

What I really really relate to myself is how your BFF described how her mind works. I also known that is why I interrupt people when they are talking to me aka blurt because if I don't say it it will be lost. One of the things I say often is " I have to wait for the lighthouse to come back around and shine it's light on what I wanted to say." also " I'm having a lighthouse moment."

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