ADHD in grammar school kids

silverhand

Hi, everyone I am working on my senior project for Sage College of Albany. I am designing a campaign that will examine the powerful influence that increasingly specific childhood diagnoses have on children today. I am hoping this will be helpful to create an awareness of the dangers of relying on medication to solve behavioral problems.

I am asking you for your insight on the issue of treating ADD, ADHD, and other behavioral/learning disorders with amphetamines, or with alternative methods, in order that I can collect real-life experiences from parents. I am open to all angles of the controversy surrounding this issue. You may be quoted. If you do not wish to be directly quoted, please let me know.


Here is my stance on the issue. Please feel free to argue or agree.

Child-rearing has changed drastically in the last one hundred years, deviating from the authority of the family, to the authority of "professionals." This has encouraged a fundamental change in how society views children, and has also enabled the media to commercialize childhood. Pharmaceutical advertising has capitalized on this change by pushing childhood disorders and treatments intended for "the quick fix." With the deterioration of the family unit, adults have developed a lack of patience and understanding, and buying into the media, expect their children to fit into the projected mold for the "normal" child. When a child does not fit into that mold, professional diagnoses are sought out to succinctly label the particular problem. In the past, parents would have laboriously fought against such stigmas being placed on their children. Now they look to them as liberating excuses, or solid answers to what they now view as disorders.

I seek to point out the dangers in this approach, and will encourage parents and teachers not to focus on psychological diagnoses and medications, but rather on the underlying issues and unique obstacles each child faces as an individual. Children are not, and should not be made out to be carbon copies of one another or of their parents. Parents and teachers need to accept individuality and be willing to make accommodations for different learning, socializing, and developing needs.

With this campaign, I hope to bring to light the exorbitant amount of children being diagnosed and medically treated for "disorders" like ADHD. It will show that many of these "disorders" can be corrected simply by a parent paying more attention, or a teacher altering the way a subject is taught. This campaign seeks to instill a deeper understanding of the child psyche, and an awareness of the dubiousness of most diagnoses, along with the harmful effects that prescribed medication can have on the children. The presentation as a whole intends to capture the attention of parents and teachers alike, and expose a widespread problem that has long been ignored or misunderstood.

Thanks so much. I know your time is valuable - any insight will be appreciated.

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ninos

Their are many kids with ADD/HD that need medication. Example, My GF son was always a handful. We are talking beyond the normal hyperactivity that you expect from a child. Mom and dad are good parents. They are active in their kids lives and the PTA. My GF's lght bulb moment was when she had to take her older son to the ER because her 5 year old son whacked a bat on his older brothers head for the second time that year. When a child is ADHD they do not think of consequences. They just react. I am not going to go into all detail of my GF's struggles with her son. She always knew something was not right with him. I will not forget the day she called me crying because she had to medicate her son. That was over a year ago. Her son is doing great. His grade are up, his teacher say he is happier, and most of all he likes himself when he takes the medication. ADD/HD is over diagnosed but their are many kids who need the medication. Do not assume that just making home and classroom changes will solve the problem.
My DD is ADD. Since she was 3 we saw things within her that we couldnt quite put our finger on. She bagan an Early Childhood program through the school system. This year we had to make the decision to medicate her. I keep a close eye on her when she takes her meds. I meet with her teacher every week to see how she is doing in school. I even want to know how she feels emotionally. For my DD it is the attention part she truely struggles with. We have made many changes in our home to help her. The first thing we did was get rid of many of the too many toys she had. The clutter was clouding up her brain. She is also now on a schedule at home. She now knows what time is homework and what night is bath night. It is planned out for her. I do wish that more teachers were trained for these types of student. She really needs her day layed out infront of her and she need the classroom to be very organized. DD is also a visual learner. I wish more teacher knew how to teach in a more visual manner. Many student who are not ADD/HD would benifet from visual learning tools.
We hear so many horror stories of these ADD/HD meds. We do not ever hear the good stories. The story of my friends son who aked to start taking his meds on the weekend too. He was only takin them on school days. He said he liked the way he felt with his meds. He said "It makes me feel normal!"

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sweeby

"I am hoping this will be helpful to create an awareness of the dangers of relying on medication to solve behavioral problems. "

Before even reading your position statement, my immediate reaction was that you are going into this with at least two hidden biases:

- First, that the adults are relying on pills to "solve the problems" rather than mitigate the severity of the issues that cause the symptoms, or to assist the child in overcoming the problems, and

- Second, that the problems are "behavioral" in nature and not medical.

But after reading your stance, it seems like your position is the familiar "overdiagnosing, overmedicating, underparenting" argument. I do hope you'll dig much deeper than this.

As the parent of two boys with labels, I will admit that there is some truth to your stance. But that pendulum also swings the other way, with the "overdiagnosing" argument preventing children from receiving the legitimate medical treatment that can help them succeed.

My older son was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, and is also gifted intellectually and artistically. Prior to his diagnoses, he struggled to learn to read and his self-esteem plummeted in response to his unexpected difficulties. I had always been an active and involved parent and had a close relationship with my son, and while he WAS very active, I did not experience ANY discipline problems at home. So when the educational psychologist I took him to (suspecting dyslexia) suggested ADHD in addition to dyslexia, I was surprised and reluctant to believe it. But teacher interviews overwhelmingly supported that diagnosis, and after considring the issue carefully, I agreed to a trial of stimulant medication. It made a significant, immediate and positive difference in his schoolwork. He was finally able to concentrate enough to benefit from his reading instruction, and caught up to 'grade level' relatively quickly. He was also able to curb his impulsiveness, which smoothed over some of his previous social and classroom difficulties. He was happier and doing well again.

Then his stepmother got involved, citing the "overdiagnosed, overmedicated" argument, and his father, citing the "He's just like I was!" (therefore?) argument threatened to sue the doctor if he continued to prescribe stimulants, so I agreed to take him off the meds. DS's schoolwork began to slip and problem behaviors re-emerged, though with even more active parenting, those issues were held in reasonable check. He is still disorganized, forgetful, impulsive and very distractable, problems that were much less severe when he was medicated. Does he absolutely for-certain have ADHD? I guess I can't say for sure. Without a scientifically validated medical test, no one can say for 100% sure. But what I can absolutely say is that being on stimulant medication helped him significantly, and the "overdiagnosed / overmedicated" argument harmed him.

My younger son is diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a mild form of autism, another of the "wildly overdiagnosed" conditions. There is absolutely no question in the minds of anyone who knows him that there is something going on, some disorder of some sort. What exactly that diagnosis should be is still up for discussion, among experts and parents alike, and PDD/NOS is simply the best (if imperfect) fit. But he too has been harmed by the "overdiagnosed / overmedicated" mindset. Even among treating professionals, there is a certain amount of "overanxious parent" skepticism. With some physicians you can see the skepticism when they first walk in the room, and watch it melt when they determine that there actually IS a basis-in-fact to the parent's concerns.

"With this campaign, I hope to bring to light the exorbitant amount of children being diagnosed and medically treated for "disorders" like ADHD."

Believe me -- this 'issue' is hardly in the dark. It is out there and being trumpeted far and wide; it needs no advocate. But please know also that this viewpoint harms some children as well as helping some of them.

" It will show that many of these "disorders" can be corrected simply by a parent paying more attention, or a teacher altering the way a subject is taught. "

Certainly, active, involved parenting and creative teaching strategies geared toward the needs of each individual child are good, effective tactics. But to suggest that medical biological disorders can be "fixed" by simple good parenting / good teaching are simplistic in the extreme, and harmful to the children who actually do have these problems.

Now there IS good science being done that establishes how intensive behavioral patterning and effective one-on-one and small group teaching can actually change the structure of the brain, re-wiring neural pathways. (Look into dyslexia remediation strategies and Applied Behavior Analysis in treating autism.) To investigate how intensive training and instruction can actually "cure" medical disorders that originate in the brain by realigning neural pathways -- a similar but more scientific and greatly intensified approach to your 'active parenting/individualized teaching' argument -- there's some thesis material.

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missmoriah

I have to say there was very little I knew about ADHD and ADD until I started babysitting my 8 year old cousin, about 6 years ago. Mind you I am 22 and have gone through college, recieving a degree in psychology. I am going towards child psychology however the schooling has been put on hold for financial purposes.

My dear cousin, Parker is a wonderful child. Very smart and enjoyable to be around. However, he becomes very much like Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hide. There have been times I had to remove myself from the house (go on the front porch) with his 2 1/2 year old sister in fear of our safety and allow him to calm down.

There has been many times he has threatened to kill me. He has taken a baseball bat to my face. He has told me that he hated me and wished that he himself would just die. When he gets angry, he begins twisting his fingers and clenching his fists... This is a sure fire sign that action needs to be taken. Mind you... I agree that there are quite a few cases as to people "assume" their child has ADD/ADHD and they immediately think MEDICATION! Little Parker's mother is a very active parent. I have praised her in her parenting skills with her children, for she is very strict and keeps a very structured environment for him. Without the structure... He loses it. I call them "melt downs". He is on stimulated medication. And when there happens to be a day that the medication is not taken due to forgetting... The NEXT day you notice the difference. Not only is he "bouncing off the walls" with hyperactivity, but he is rude, disrespectful, over angered, and sometimes dangerous to be around. He has very excellent math skills. However without medication it takes over 3 hours to complete an assignment that would normally take him 20 minutes tops!

I am in constant communication with his mother on behavioral issues and solutions to certain circumstances. I do understand "boys will be boys" however, when it has reached a level I have never seen in grown men... There is a problem. We have eliminated the "time outs" and have switched it to having him going to his room and calm down. He is allowed to play quietly on his bed without tv to regroup himself and come back out and explain to me why he has behaved the way he did and what he can do to help fix the problem.

And on the other side of the coin, I have another little cousin who her mother has a LACK of disipline and has opted to medicate her for ADHD. However hers is not a stimulant. I still do not believe she has ADHD, and it is clearly an issue with punishing her when she has misbehaved. She is very sassy and disrespectful to all the family. She has threatened to pull a knife on me, and it has gotten to the point where when you would really want to smack her... I have chosen to give her a Three Strike System. Once she gets the 3rd strike I refrain from speaking to her. I explain to her that I am not speaking to her anymore for that day because she has hurt my feelings and disrespected me and I do not conversate with people that do this to me because they do not deserve to talk to me. She gets upset and it breaks my heart that I have really upset my little cousin, but I can't let her get away with the things she says and does. I stick to my guns though...

So I have seen it on both ends... But there really are children out there that DO indeed need it... For sometimes my sanity is in danger. And even more so when Parker don't get his medication the previous morning.

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blue_velvet_elvis

I thought about this all day. I was livid when I read it the first time and have come back to it several times.

I am an adult with ADD who was finally diagnosed after my boys then aged 7 and 5 were. I always knew I was smart. I always knew I was different. I had loving caring parents who spent time with me, a lot of time. I was tested out at having nearly a 150 IQ but failed miserably all the way through school. I almost didn't pass kindergarten. My loving and supportive parents did all they could but other than say I was just like the neighbor boy, who was diagnosed even back then with ADD, that was as far as it got. Girls couldn't have ADD it was a "boy" problem.

Skip forward many years, after diagnosis and treatment (with drugs) I sat down and balanced my checkbook for the first time in my life. I was able to walk into and out of a store and only buy what I went in for and not spend hours wandering around off track. I could sleep at night, before my mind was like a train. I had thoughts barely strung together but from what I started to think about, a very distinctly unrelated answer would emerge.

There are PET scans showing the differences between the brains of people with ADD and those without. The differences are not imagined. It doesn't matter if a person has more attention at home or in a classroom, there are physiological differences in how ADD brains and non ADD brains are wired.

Let's talk about stimulant medication treatment. If these were "regular" children or adults the stimulants would not only not help calm them they'd be bouncing off the walls. The stimulant medication speeds the portion of the brain in person with ADD up to a "normal" speed so they don't have to jump around or wiggle or tap or squirm to keep that part of the brain engaged.

I went off medication for several years and am back on in the past few weeks. I had sworn off school after very bad experiences in high school. With the knowledge of why it was difficult previously I made the decision to try school again and am currently working toward a bachelors in business administration. The macroeconomics class convinced me that all the wiggling and squirming in the world wasn't helping me get it and keep my nose in my textbook.

I am sure there are some children and adults who have not been diagnosed correctly. However, just because it was not recognized in the past does not mean it didn't exist. It tends to be genetic.

My boys both have ADHD with one comorbid Tourette's and the other OCD, both spacially dysgraphic. We had a full diagnosis made by a behavioral pediatrician that took several visits over the course of a month.

I don't know about other kids, and as callous as it sounds, I don't care about other kids. I care about MY kids. Lumping all cases and people together is dangerous.

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silverhand

Thank you all so much for all of your insight. I apologize if I came on too strongly, or it sounded like I was blaming the parents for this issue. My main goal is to encourage parents to try alternatives before medicating. I do believe that ADHD is a legitimate disorder, however I have been really shocked at the type of medication given to children - especially children of really young ages - such as two years of age. A lot of my stance on this issue comes from articles like this that frightened me regarding the medication prescribed for these disorders (especially for children):

http://www.breggin.com/methylphen.html

I have had experience with children who display the symptoms of ADHD - but perhaps not to the extent that these symptoms can develop. And I don't want to be guilty of lumping all people together or blaming any specific factor.

This issue has many facets - I am aware of that. I am open to any more insights or stories to share. Your opinions are very important to me. I will keep checking in. Thanks.

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ninos

Dont you think that most of us did NOT want to put our beloved children on medication? From the stories already told none of us jumped the gun and just said "Drug my child!" It is very hard to admit that your(my) child is on medication. We all know the stigma that goes with it. Maybe your research will be better if you met some kids who are ADD/HD. Meet the parents who are struggling with these kids and so badly want to find the light at the end of the tunnel for their child. You may find a greater insight on this subject.

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carla35

I have a different type of view; one that is somewhat agreeing with some of what the poster says. Obviously, I know medicines do need to be given in many cases.

But generally, I do believe the public holds doctors in way too high of a regard and trusts them a little too unconditionally. I have three relatives that are doctors so I'm not simply bashing them. I really don't think people know how many times doctors simply treat people as numbers and are often just way too willing to put them on medicines because of the push and pressure from many Pharmaceutical Companies and the pressure to give parents an answer when they may not really have one. I think the exploration/ research of why what medicine is prescribed and when would be very shocking. In dealing with some health problems myself, I can not believe the 'non professional' way in which docotrs both diagnose and prescribe medicines that more often than not, may be unneeded. I do think many medicines create so many more problems than they are often worth but these details are not even reveiwed or discussed with patients in advance. Really, how many of you had doctors who really explained all the possible problems of taking a certain medicines? I only hope when dealing with children with these problems that more than one opinion/doctor is sought out and that parents educate themselves about their kid's specific problems because doctors are not 'gods' as many people just trust them blindly and shouldn't. They should also be made very well aware of the side effects of the drugs their children are taking 'before' they pick up the medicines from the store and really be able to have enough info to have an opinion themselves (not just their doctors) about the pros and cons of taking certain medicines - they should be able to ask such questions as why a certain other medicine shouldn't be given instead, etc.

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sweeby

"But generally, I do believe the public holds doctors in way too high of a regard and trusts them a little too unconditionally. "

I totally agree Carla!
And especially when it comes to our children and diagnoses that can't be 'proved' by a blood test or X-ray. As a 'consumer of medical services,' I have learned to become much more demanding over the years after realizing that some of my son's doctors have been dead-wrong, that others were clueless, and that others had made up their minds before even walking into the room and seeing my child. But others have been wonderful, watching carefully, listening to me and my child, admitting when there was doubt and discussing treatment options -- risks, benefits and alternatives.

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imamommy

I cannot imaging a parent "wanting" their child to be medicated. However, if a child "needs" to be medicated, it's the parent's responsibility to get proper treatment for their child.

My husband has a daughter (when she was 5 or 6) that had some "behavioral" problems. I (as an outsider) saw it as poor parenting on both mom & dad's part. There was a lot of inconsistency in rules & discipline. There was no dietary guidelines (she ate out (fast food) a lot and was given adult portions, as well as lots of sweets/treats). She also had a noticeable weight problem. Mom and Dad didn't live together since she was a year old.

Mom insisted she was ADHD. She took her to a neurologist for brain scan, Dr. said she isn't ADHD but may be slightly autistic. (This is what mom says she was told) Then mom took her to a therapist (she wanted a psychiatrist that could prescribe medication) but the therapist didn't think she was ADHD.

Dad (at my suggestion because I was more of an observer and noticed the problem with rules & diet) made changes in her rules, schedule/routine and diet (eliminating sweets & cutting back to child portions) and within a few months, her behavior at his house improved greatly. Her weight problem has disappeared and she has grown taller and is proportionate.

Mom continues to be inconsistent and feeds her junk food on a regular basis (mainly because she doesn't know how to cook and eating out is more convenient for her) and SD's behavior at her house fluctuates from good to bad. Mom continues to be frustrated with her behavior.

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anettemartinrn

I do agree that the diagnosis is over- and mis-used. Too many times I have seen doctors simply start writing prescriptions based on a one time visit and a complaining parent.

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gincourt

I have a 10 year old son. When he was in pre-k he was diagnosed with add and auditory processing(capd). All of his classmates whose mothers I befriended seem to have a learning disabliliy too. I found this rather strange that so many boys were diagnosed with learning disibilities. In the past I have tried every type of ADD meds there was and they all had bad side effects, so I know medicine was not the answer. My thoughts are that Boys mature at different rates, I think that the schools ask to much from our little boys, they want them sitting in chairs quietly for 7 hours a day, 15 minutes of recess, 20 minutes of a quiet lunch, this is too much to ask of a little boy under the age of 10. Maybe all public school be divided into boy schools and girl schools then teachers would not have the sweet little girls to compare our boys too. ( I have 2 daughters as well) Remember this old qoute "Girls are made from sugar and spice and boys are made from snakes and snails" this probably still holds as true today as it did generations ago. Recent update according to the system that has labeled my son for years at age 10 he shows no sign of the diagnoses he once had. Is he cured ?? I dont know but at age 10 he is more mature, he can sit for longer periods of time and he can control his urges better. ADD, I wonder. little boy growing up I am sure of it.

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