ADD, my personal perspective

drugsThis is kind of different for me.  I haven’t written anything this personal on the blog before and didn’t really want to but last week this was brought up and I wanted to point out a few things.  Also, many people called me or I talked to them and they wanted me to share some of their feelings as well.

As most of you know, I have two sons. Both of them had/have ADD.  This was before the H was added and it was just plain old Attention Deficit Disorder.  I have a nephew and a grandson with this also.

I realize this post will be long so I apologize in advance and if it’s not your cup of tea, you can just skip this one if you want to but there’s no way to make it any shorter.  I’ve already tried to condense it but some things need to be said if I’m going to talk about it at all.  I’m also not going to put in any “statistics” or any “studies” or “professional” opinions. I’m just a mom, aunt and grandmother and I’ve lived it and that’s going to be good enough for me.

I’ll start with my first born son Jason.  Jason was a very well behaved child and never really got into much trouble in school.  At home he was a pill at times but never really “bad.”  He pretty much flew under the radar at school.  He got by “okay” with his grades. Just your “average” kid.  Paul and I went to a conference once and I swear to you this man didn’t know know he was.  This was Jr High by then and I really think he sat through that conference thinking “who are they here to talk about?”  

I really believe I had/have ADD as well and Jason has “my” symptoms of it.  He would start one subject and get stuck and move on to the next and would continue that way and never really finish any of it.  I can remember thinking I could go back to it later which I never did.  Jason was just like I was.  If you’ve ever read my Looking For My Checkbook post, you may have chuckled and thought “oh, I do those kinds of things” and so you may kind of know what I’m talking about.  Certain things I have a hard time finishing.  Reading is really the only thing I do finish.  Jason was this same way.  

When he was 15 someone must have had a “lightbulb” moment and suggested that I take him and have him evaluated.  The doctor looked at all his records and thought maybe medication might help him.  So we talked about it and being he was so old already, I wanted him to make the decision and he decided if it would help him he’d give it a try.  But he got bad headaches and an upset stomach and no appetite.  So we only did it for a few months in the summer and it wasn’t for him.  Jason couldn’t afford to lose any weight and he couldn’t eat so it just wasn’t an option at this time. He would just have to work a little harder.

Enter son #2 Toby.  As far back as I can tell, Toby could always read.  It was nothing I did special, he just seemed to always know how.  I’m just convinced that he was born knowing how.  He also seemed to know things that I never knew “how” he just knew them.  He was very bright.  When he went to Kindergarten I knew his teacher personally and she suggested I put him in second grade.  Paul and I talked endlessly about it and came to the conclusion that it was to much of a jump socially.  Jason was in third grade which would put them only one year apart in school. It would also put him in all sports, church and all outside activities with no peers that he went to school with since it’s all about your age not what grade your in.  The only thing that went by ability was swimming.  So, we said no.  They asked if he could go to second grade for subjects like reading and math and we did say yes to that.  So many kids leave the classroom for all kinds of things so it wasn’t that noticeable.  All is well.

OR SO WE THOUGHT.

When they did that “testing” on him and suggested we move him up all those grades, he was tested by the special the Ed Department which now unbeknownst to us, he was now in. Things were fine in 1st grade and he had a great teacher who was very consistent and very fair and warm.  She never had any problems with his behavior.  2nd grade came and he got the “one more year and I’m retiring” teacher.  She didn’t like him and thought he should be medicated.  At this point he had gotten straight A’s and academically did very well.  But he could be very antsy and squirrelly.  He was also very bored and this teacher didn’t believe he should be leaving the classroom to learn in the higher grades.  She wanted to smother him and wanted to be right and thought we should do what she told us to do.  She didn’t know me very well.  He would do things like sharpen his pencil a million times and would play with things.  If he were to wear a hoodie to school he would try and make  people laugh by putting the hood up and take the strings and closing it to the point of just showing one eye or poking his tongue out that little hole.  Nothing earth shattering but clowning around none the less and with an old teacher that had no tolerance.  I’ve also got to be honest here too. He knew he was irking her and did a lot of it on purpose.  Things did get out of control though and we had no choice mid year to move him into another classroom.  

Things with the new teacher were wonderful and she wondered what the fuss was about because he blossomed with her.  Third grade was also okay.  Forth grade seemed to be go downhill right from the start.  He was put with an egomaniac man who hated Toby on sight.  I have no idea why.  Being he’d been labeled “special ed” but not on “services” for almost 2 years they needed him to “use” the services or lose the funded money they were receiving for him from the state.  I know this to be true because I worked in his school and had many teacher friends.  I knew exactly what they were up to.

So now we have this big meeting with all the “top brass.”  School psychologist, principal, all his teachers, school health aid and Paul and I.  What they told us curdled my blood.  They wanted us to medicate him.  WHAT???  I was furious because I didn’t see it in any way.  He got perfect grades and had done well for a year and a half with no problems.  So I took all the paperwork to his pediatrician for a complete physical.  This had been his doctor his whole life and he knew him.  He told me in NO UNCERTAIN terms that he would never prescribe medication for him after his evaluation and what he’d read from the school.  He was a straight A student with literally nothing other than typical little boy behaviors. So off we go back to the school.  I went to the school psychologist first. 

He agreed with the doctor and told me he found in his interviews with Toby that he found him extremely bright and nothing he’d seen would warrant medication. Long story short, no medication but I had special ed and his classroom teacher out to get me.

I got a call from one of his other teachers who told me I had to call a meeting with all the “top brass” and not be aggressive with them and ask them “what can we do to help this child?”  She was on our side but couldn’t go against her co-workers but thought what they were doing was awful.  She had Toby for all his major subjects and he was fine with her but but his classroom teacher and special ed teacher were out to get me and wouldn’t let up.  So I called a meeting and was sweet as honey.  His doctor even came.  With his medical doctor along with the school psychologist saying they didn’t see any evidence of medication being useful here, those two teachers were left pretty speechless.  The year passed and it was a relief for it to be over.  It was the last hard year we had.  As he got older the subjects didn’t come as easy to him anymore and I now truly think he was really just bored.  Once he got older he was more interested in school and didn’t act out (much).  I never said he was perfect.

Now we come to my nephew Eric.  Eric had a lot of the same characteristics as Toby.  He was always very happy go lucky and always sparkled.  But he had the type of ADD that you could almost see his blood going through his veins.  An uncontrollable pulsing. He would act without thinking and was sent down several times a week to the principal’s office.  He acted remorseful but kept doing the same kinds of things over and over.  Eric was almost between Jason and Toby.  His grades were failing like Jason’s but he also had the “clownish” behaviors that Toby had.  Bottom line with Eric, his learning was being affected by this.  He was also diagnosed at a much younger age than Jason was.  Had Jason been diagnosed at this young of an age, I would have highly considered trying the medication because his learning was defiantly affected.  Darryl was at a loss and didn’t really know what to do.  He could see that Eric needed the help. Medicate or not, it’s such a big thing and many other things were tried first.  Eric needed this and it did work for him.  

I talked to Darryl last night about this post and he told me he couldn’t even take Eric golfing without his meds.  He said it did change him and while he wasn’t sure he always like the change, he needed it or he couldn’t have done anything.  He was still the same happy go luck kid in love with the world but he could actually concentrate now.  The only thing I would change if I was able to go back would be to wean it off him a year sooner.  With most kids back then they liked to wean them off this stuff when they start adolescence as the hormones are all changing and the bodies are changing.  But like Darryl said last night, he needed it for some things.  Not for all things anymore but for some.  But you can’t just give it to them when you feel like it.  It’s got to be all or nothing. Maybe that’s changed somewhat now but back then, that’s what it was like.  You couldn’t give it to them during the week and then just take them off it for the weekends.  Their bodies grew to need it.

Now for my grandson Bailey.  He’s like his dad.  He’s got a very quiet and sweet personality but he’s like Eric in the way that you can almost see his inner body parts working under his skin.  It’s very hard to explain but it’s like an electrical current running under his skin.  It also affected his learning and his ability to concentrate. He’s been on medication for two years and it’s dramatically helped him.  Not for behavior, for learning.  Had it been up to me, I’d have done the same thing.  The reason I didn’t agree with it for Toby was because his learning wasn’t affected nor was anyone else’s.  He wasn’t disruptive that way. I really feel he got put in the middle of a power struggle and I couldn’t see a reason for it at home or school.

It’s all fine and well to say as an adult to try meditation and try all the “fung shui” types of things to curb these behaviors but you can’t do this with kids. A lot of these kids outgrow this or learn to live with it.  But I feel to make a blanket statement or to tell other people that their decision is wrong is a terrible thing to do to another parent.  We will never all agree but I do feel if a parent is trying to do the best they can and they make this choice, a lot heart-wrenching thought has gone into it and we should respect those parent’s.  We are all different as are all kids.  Some need it, some don’t.  I’ll bet we all know those with ADD.  I can count many people I know as having it in one way or another.  We also have to remember it’s like any other disease and has many different characteristics and symptoms and they are not all alike.

Which leads me to my closure and if you’ve read all this I applaud you.  We can’t “blanket” this issue.  I know all to well that this is diagnosed far to often and a lot of kids are being put on these drugs with not enough thought behind it but some some kids, they really need it.  It’s up to us as parents and our pediatricians but it’s NOT UP TO THE SCHOOL.  We have to know our kids and be involved and know what’s going on.  But to say no kids should be put on any of these medications, I feel is very wrong.  I feel if a parent makes this decision nobody should tell them they were wrong or they should try this or that.  It’s up to them.  We don’t know their kids.

What’s your opinion on this?  Do know adults as well as kids like this?

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50 Responses to ADD, my personal perspective

  1. Incredible post, Joy. I did indeed read it straight through. My brother was diagnosed with ADD when we were growing up, and he took medication for a little while. But he just stopped eventually because it wasn’t doing all that much for him, so why stay on it?

    I must agree with you on every single point. Some kids need the medication. Some kids plain don’t. It’s prescribed WAY too easily, and with all the rumors of it being used recreationally, that’s bad. The children who start taking this at a young age should be very carefully evaluated because there’s no reason to put chemical’s in a little kid’s body if they’re not going to help him.
    I also agree that older kids should be weaned off of it, because I’ve heard so many people with ADD say that the meds stifled their creativity when growing up and had bad effects on their psychological well-being, which makes sense as hormones affect that as well during puberty and the medication could definitely make moods worse and more pronounced during such a time.

    As you said, parents and the children themselves should make the decision to try or to stop the medication in a sensible manner and stay attuned to the effects. It’s good for some, bad for others.

  2. SKL says:

    I definitely know people who could be diagnosed as ADD. I think probably all three of my brothers had it to some degree, among others. They didn’t have that diagnosis in those days, as far as I know. My oldest brother was always up to something, attention seeking, restless, funny, musically talented, academically gifted. He went to a big city public school in grades 1-2 and stood out enough that they put him in a gifted program for grade 3. He didn’t keep up with the work, but got by OK. He switched to Lutheran schools from grade 4-10. They didn’t have a gifted program but had high standards. Again, he did fine, but not commensurate with his IQ. We moved and he switched to the vo-ed for grade 12 and while he got a diploma, he was little more than a dropout at that point. He strongly felt that school was a big waste of time.

    My second brother has an even higher IQ. He was a big daydreamer and pretty hopeless socially. He could not stay on task but he’d go home from school and read college textbooks. He got terrible grades that had absolutely no relation to his ability. His excuse was that the classes were stupid and an insult to his intelligence. He never failed, but usually just squeaked by in one or more subjects.

    My third brother sounds a lot like Toby, except that his grades after 1st grade were not perfect. He was placed in an advanced 2nd grade but didn’t meet expectations. He was given a lot of discouragement from his teacher and never did recover from it. He was distractable and wouldn’t complete half of his homework. When he was in 3rd grade, the teacher tried to convince my parents to hold him back. To the school’s surprise, she insisted that they test him for special ed. (My dad is severely dyslexic, so she wanted to see if he had some of that.) Well, he didn’t quite qualify for services, but the tests proved he was academically advanced, so there was no excuse to flunk him. As in your situation with Toby, the school was in a constant battle with my mom over my brother, for years. I think the teachers felt sorry for him because my parents wouldn’t let him fail. Naturally he responded to how little they expected of him. He got on the right track in high school, but a lot of damage had been done.

    Myself, I have always been very distractable and a dreamer, but I’ve also had enough offsetting traits to achieve at a high level. I am sure I could have done better based just on intelligence, but being “the best” was never important to me.

    About drugs, I feel they should be seen as one of many alternatives to try. Parents should be informed of various non-chemical alternatives so that they can make an educated decision. Personally, I would prefer to try adjustments to diet, activity, and environment, as well as teaching focused learning techniques, before I’d try the drugs. And even if I chose the drugs, I’d do so in combination with those other strategies, in the hope that the dosage would be set as low as possible. And I’d keep the dose a little lower than what would be necessary for “peak performance,” so that the child would still be challenged enough to work on developing learning and behavior strategies. I feel grades in elementary school are much less important than developing the abilities needed to succeed in college and in adult life.

    I am very disheartened by what I’ve seen in schools. The attitude that a teacher has more right than parents or doctors to decide who should be on “meds.” That discipline issues occur because kids are not on “meds” and teachers shouldn’t have any responsibility for maintaining order. I’ve even heard of cases where parents were told they had no choice but to medicate against their will.

    I am sure my brothers could give the teachers a run for their money, yet to my knowledge, they were never even criticized for their “conduct” in the early grades. In those days, every classroom had some number (usually 1-2) of kids who were extra-spirited, and teachers were expected to deal with them and still teach their classes. It was rare for things to get too out-of-hand for learning to take place. Why is that? Maybe teachers put more effort into solving discipline problems when “meds” were not an option. Getting kids to get up and move around, using different teaching methods, etc. And maybe it was partly because teachers had a right to administer harsher discipline when there was occasion for it – and parents would generally back the teachers on this. For whatever reason, now we have classrooms where many of the kids are medicated, and they still have poorer discipline as a group than before the days of Ritalin.

    I think it comes down to this: meds should be a matter between families and doctors. Not teachers. Teachers should not go further than to point out the option, maybe give a few fast facts or a pamphlet or some websites for reference. Teachers’ responsibility is to manage their classrooms, which ought to be a cross section of personalities, using motivation and discipline.

  3. SanityFound says:

    Joy this is just plain incredible, incredible amazing post so well written that I was glued quite literally to my seat coffee cup held mid air scared to take a sip in case I miss a word!

    My friends son has been diagnosed with ADHD and I have never really agreed with the doctors but as you say you can honestly see the electricity running through their veins. He has difficulty dressing himself and concentrating long enough on anything. Juan is ubber bright and recently went for evaluations which found his IQ to be beyond beyond beyond normal but the wires dont connect … thankfully his mom has taken him off the personality deadening ritalin and put him on a concoction of vitamins that have really really helped. Its part of a new study that showed that ADD/ADHD kids/adults lack vital nutrients that their body is lacking.

    Now instead of Ritalin he takes 10 vitamins a day specially formulated for his system, he is reading better, able to concentrate, can hold a long conversation, less distracted and back to his old self… better still he isn’t failing anymore but rather back to the A’s.

    Hard controversial topic, guess it all depends on the individuals and the kids involved but either way it is a nightmare through and through.

    Incredible post huns *bows* mwah!

  4. SanityFound says:

    PS I have also been told that I have it but just between you and me, I’m special and people just don’t understand where I get my energy from 🙂

    Lets not tell oks

  5. thegoddessanna says:

    Growing up, I had friends that truly had ADD, and several that were just fed Ritalin to make their parents and teachers happy (because they were spirited and individuals, not really ADD-material). I’m of the belief that just as ADD doesn’t affect everyone the same way, every individual must be approached differently too. I would have been very pissed about what happened with your younger son – and I had hellish teachers like that too, that just didn’t like me. My husband had ADD as a child, but he doesn’t talk about it much. He’s pretty normal now as an adult, although some lingering issues with dyslexia pop up now and again.

    I swear as an adult, I have a form of ADD. My attention span is limited, and I easily forget what I’m doing or where I was headed if I’m not paying careful attention. I’ve always blamed it on the fact that I bore very easily. It started when I was little – I started school at age 4, and I was nearly 2 years younger than my oldest classmates. I already could read and write (and speak another language besides English), and I was doing high-level mathematics for fun by 3rd grade. The only thing my school did was to put me in a “talented and gifted” class during recess, so not only was I the nerd during class, but I was weird because I missed recess too (I was bullied for years). I hated it.

    My third grade teacher was old enough that she had taught many of my classmates’ parents – and she did not like me simply because I was a distraction. She called me a liar for saying I knew how to do Trig and Calculus (and never apologized after I showed her); actually, she started calling me a liar anytime I opened my mouth. So I shut up. I became very introverted, and even more unsocial than I already was. It was a shell I did not crack until I took a Drama class in 10th grade to help with my painful shyness. It’s a shell I’m still cracking over a decade later.

    My mother never took me to the doctor to figure out why I was the way I was – she figured it was because I was mad I had started school early and that I wasn’t trying hard enough to make friends. It wasn’t until years later, when seeing a therapist for post-partum depression, that something else came up – I have many of the same behaviorial tendancies of Asperger’s. I freak out in social situations, I’ve been called OCD (I like things a certain way), I have trouble maintaining eye-contact. Not enough for a formal diagnosis, but perhaps 10-15 years ago, it would have been. I’ve forced myself to fit in, because I had to. It’s caused me to wonder what it would have been like to have received help at a younger age.

    My boys have issues as it is – they just within the past 2-3 months have begin speaking, only about a year and a half late. We were afraid Cameron might have autism, but it appears it was just a phase he went through where he didn’t react to any emotions. Now, he’s more typical. Sophie, although we call her my clone, is socially nothing like me. She’s a social butterfly, and will talk you to death if you let her, introducing herself to every random passerby she makes eye contact with. I know it’s too early to make any judgements, but I keep my fingers crossed that nothing will end up being wrong with them. I love them no matter what, though, and I’m glad they love me too.

    That was a wonderful post, I’m glad you shared. I hope you don’t mind that I shared too – this just made me think of something. With all the various neurological diagnosis out there, I’m starting to think that being neurotypical is the one that needs a diagnosis. It’s a very grey area, but many of us who have these issues can lead wonderful lives, provided we are given the tools to do so.

  6. nikki says:

    Hey Sanity do you know how your friend figured out what vitamins for her son take. I would like to do that this summer.
    Okay first of all I have to say thank you Joy, for the post and saying that you would have done the same. You have no idea what that means. Bailey’s 1st grade teacher is truly a saint. We literally both cried at the end of the year. It was such a roller coaster of a year. Bailey has always been a very well behaved child, but he was constantly on the move as if driven by a motor. His teacher brought it to my attention, in 15 minutes Bailey would have to be told 45 times to sit down. We wasn’t completing his work, he would get up for any reason, like his uncle Toby he would use the pencil sharpener as an excuse. All he cared about was making everyone laugh. Everyone was his friend, that was not the problem!! He was slowly slipping in grades and I had to do something, so I took him to his dr. I had the teacher fill out an ADHD evaluation sheet as did I and Jason. We all sat down, his teacher, the school psychologist, Jason and I. Came up with a plan to try some meds. Well if anyone knows ADHD and meds is like a trail and error kind of thing. You have to find what works. His doctor was unwilling to try more than 2 different medicines. We started out with Adderall, he had no appetite and he seemed like a zombie…NOT okay. So we went with something new called the patch, it worked great but he has sensitive skin and it was leaving a rash on his skin…not okay. His doctor said we would have to take him clear to Alexandria where they have adhd researchers and specialized doctors. I knew that was not needed. After talking to a friend that has 2 kids with adhd, she recommended her doctor…another saint!!! We both love her. He is now on Concerta, the best so far. Parents that do not have children with adhd, I’m sorry but they just don’t get it. So many judge, so many want to point the finger. I didn’t take drugs when I was pregnant, the worse I did was eat too many donuts!! I have heard people say, she must have been on drugs (not about me, but I’m a mother with a child with adhd so how do you thing that makes ME feel??) I know it would certainly add to cause but to make a blanket statement like that is just not thinking. Sometimes I think I have adhd, I can’t finish anything I start, I get so bored with things so easily. I can manage it, it doesn’t really affect my daily life in a bad way. I think once you’re older you learn to deal better, routines are always good too. Patience is number one when dealing with this sort of thing. I’ve learned so much over the last year about adhd, what goes on in the brain and how exactly an upper is used to calm someone. I’m glad Jason and I made the decision we made 2 years, I don’t regret it. In the end all we want was to give our child an ample opportunity at life…so next time you see a child going crazy or a parent that looks like they’re going out of their minds…don’t judge because you have no idea what they are going through!!!!

  7. nikki says:

    I forgot to mention Bailey’s 2nd grade teacher. She should have retired, she seemed like a sweet lady at first. I think she used the meds as an excuse or something. Like any little thing Bailey did was because of his meds or adhd. I finally had to tell her that he’s an 8 YEAR OLD TYPICAL BOY!! Give him a break!! Bailey is a sweet soul, wouldn’t hurt a fly, well he’d pretend but that it!! He’s incredibly sensitive and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. His teacher had the nerve to tell my son that she didn’t like his laugh and he needed to change it. Needless to say we had a heated conversation about that and she never said that again. Thank goodness he has a teacher he loves and is very sweet. But his 1st grade teacher will go down as the best ever in our books!!!!

  8. Just a Mom says:

    My oldest daughter has ADD. She is in the 10th grade. Her main problem, as is with most girls with ADD, is her concentration. She has never been very good at school, but she slides by. She does love to read but for fun not for school! We tried medication when she was in 4th and 5th grade but it just zombied her out and she had sleeping problems as well as not wanting to eat. I took her off the meds, ritalin and then concerta, and we went with Vitamin B and making list. She has a list for something everywhere in the house. Example: In the bathroom room she has a list that says AM: Shower, brush teeth, brush hair. PM: Brush teeth, clean earrings, wash face. Each list is lamenated and has each day mon-sun on it and each item has a place to put a check mark. Once she has done the job she puts a check mark next to it. At the end of the week she wipes it off and starts from scratch. When she does not follow the lists she will usually get off task and she now sees this herself. It is no longer me yelling at her to get her stuff done. Our program works for us. We have also found that too much sugar, natural or processed, sets her off in a mean ugly mood, so we reuglate that as much as we can seeing that she is a teen!

  9. nikki says:

    Vitamin B huh? That will go on my list of things to try. Did it work right away or was it something that needed to be in her system for awhile? I have heard that it’s usually just a vitamin deficiency but how do you find out which ones? Trail and error just like the meds??

  10. thegoddessanna says:

    Just a Mom – that is a fabulous idea! One that I might honestly try for myself. I used to make lists myself, but I’ll be honest – sometimes I’d cheat and not do things. If I can get someone else to make them, though…

    Thank you!

  11. Just a Mom says:

    Nikki ~ My doctor actually suggested the vitamin b along with a regular multi vitamin and a healthy diet. It took about 2 weeks to see a difference.

  12. kweenmama says:

    I think it was very smart of you to take all the paper work and visit the pediatrician. And getting the pediatrician and school psychologist on your side was a plus. I think you handled it well with both of your sons and I applaud you. I agree wholeheartedly with this post!

  13. nikki says:

    Thanks Just a Mom. Great idea’s I’m glad Joy wrote about this. I have wanted to but it is very personal and I’m leaning away from that, I’m too sensitive!!! It is nice to talk to another mother who has gone through similar situations.

  14. Joy says:

    Thanks for all the input. This is so common among us.

    I did do “lists” also. I couldn’t get into everything I did and tried as the post was so long as it was. I worked on it all day yesterday tweaking it.

    When I called that “lets do what we can to work together to help” Toby I told special ed to take a hike. I really did. I made him note cards every single day that his teachers had to sign. It had things on it that were problem area’s. Keeping my hands to myself in the halls, sharpening my pencils all at once, not playing with clothes, not speaking out of turn….things like that. Those things really helped and being I made them myself, I could change if he did. Those forms special ed has are all generic and didn’t always fit all the kids. He also knew then that he was accountable for his own behavior. Can you believe I made one for each day of school for a whole year??? It was very draining emotionally.

    What else I didn’t mention was the fact that the same 2nd grade teacher had also caused one other family to pull their child out of public school and one other little girl to also “opt” out of her classroom. They lost 3 special ed kids that year and that’s why they were trying so hard to keep him in it. If they could have kept one of those kids in special ed, they would still be getting the same amount of money they had been getting but they lost 3 that year and were about to get a budget cut. Sorry, not with my kid!! How could an adult act like that?? It was all pretty common knowledge among us that worked together that Toby’s 4th grade teacher and the special ed teacher were having an affair. So she was needling him to “get after” us. Pretty pathetic.

    We also took Toby to nutritionist and even tried vitamins following a Chiropractor’s advice. Believe me, it would have been easier to medicate him but it just seemed the wrong thing to do and the specialists we took him to said no way.

  15. Gina Pera says:

    Thanks for the interesting column and discussion.

    I love hearing the details about your children and nephew; they remind us of the striking individuality among children that must be understood and honored.

    It always surprises me when I read instances of the school telling a parent the child needs to be on medication. Because in my volunteer work, talking with parents of children with ADHD, that’s almost never the case. It seems the schools will go to the ends of the earth before they will acknowledge a child’s ADHD, much less mention medication. Maybe it varies by state, with the various laws, etc.

    One thing I’d like to mention, though: ADHD in children can be a walk in the park compared to ADHD in adults. And sometimes a parent doesn’t realize how impaired a child is (especially is the child is intelligent) until the later grades, or even college. The older they get and the less built-in structure they enjoy, the more poorly they perform. And, it’s not just grades. In fact, as they get older, grades seem the least of the ADHD challenges, which come to include driving, sex, substance use, money management, employment, etc.

    The parents of late-diagnosis ADHD college students who have dropped out seem the most desperate for help, and yet the hardest TO help. So much water under the bridge. It’s very tricky. Lacking ADHD treatment at an earlier age, they might have a poor foundation for more advanced learning.

    Also, ADHD is 76 percent heritable, and so chances are good that a parent of a child with ADHD also has ADHD, usually undiagnosed and untreated. That can mean “denial” runs a strong current through the family.

    “I was like that as a child, and I turned out okay,” the parent might say. Sometimes the spouse says, “No, you didn’t turn out okay. You blaze a trail with our credit card and you leave your clutter everywhere, so we can barely walk through the house!” 🙂

    Even if the parent with suspected ADHD as a child did turn out “okay,” that parent must remember that their child is not an exact clone and might have more impairing symptoms. Plus, this is a much more competitive job market than it was 30 years ago. That child might not be able to make it without some ADHD-specific intervention. But if the parent has ADHD, that parent might not be thinking “down the road.” ADHD tends to confer a bias towards living in the now and not thinking so much about the future.

    So, while sometimes I imagine teachers might just be burned-out “control freaks,” sometimes they actually do think of the child’s long-term prospects and try to bring a dose of long-term reality to the parents. I know many teachers who have taken the time to pursue extra training that is not included in most education curriculum; they care a lot about their students, and when they see them having problems unnecessarily, they want to help. They also know that some children with ADHD who are overly accommodated, without benefit of medical treatment, will end up missing developmental milestones that they might never make up.

    Re: nutrition. Of course good nutrition in step one for all of us. Our brains and bodies just don’t function without the right amount of nutrients, exercise, sleep, etc. But while improved diet might minimize ADHD symptoms (and surely can help some poor-nutrition-caused conditions that mimic ADHD), I know many parents who’ve tried every “alternative” under the sun before trying medication — and they were sorry they hadn’t tried earlier.

    Just food for thought.

    Gina Pera, author
    Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder (September, 2008)

  16. Gina Pera says:

    P.S. “Just a Mom” wrote:
    We tried medication when she was in 4th and 5th grade but it just zombied her out and she had sleeping problems as well as not wanting to eat.

    ————-
    The number of times I’ve heard this complaint greatly saddens me. The “zombie” effect from methylphenidate (the medication in Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, etc.) usually means that it’s too high a dosage.

    Trouble is, most prescribing docs are far too careless in their protocols — or they don’t use a protocol at all! They start with far too high a dosage instead of STARTING LOW AND TITRATING SLOW, which is the golden rule for these and other medications.

    We have to be advocates for our family and learn about these protocols, just to make sure the physician follows them.

    It’s just a shame that so many people’s first foray into medication for ADHD results in such a poor outcome, they lose faith altogether.

    Gina Pera

  17. mssc54 says:

    When I was going to school in the 60s & early 70s there was no such diagnosis. It was just me acting up, being the class clown!

    Ironically my Mrs. The Math Teacher sent me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with ADHD. I get so much more done when I take my Adderal!

    I’m just waiting for a teacher to tell me our 4 year old needs meds.

    I think a lot of teachers would rather have their students on prescribed meds!

  18. SKL says:

    I just realized I had a typo in my comment. It sounds like I said the teacher ordered special ed tests for my youngset brother. Actually, my mom ordered them, and the teacher balked, so my mom went to the principal who also balked. In those days and in that place (or with that teacher, anyway), they’d rather fail a child than see if he needed a different kind of help.

    Sorry, it makes my comment rather confusing – in addition to being way too long!

  19. Jennifer says:

    Joy, I’m glad you felt comfortable sharing those experiences with all of us. I read most of the way through….but I lost attention toward the end. LOL! Seriously…which brings me to my comment…..

    I wanted to write before reading the other comments this time…not typical for me…

    Your description of your family reminds me so much of the description of my own….I’m fairly certain that most of the population has ADD (ADHD-whatever your preference). I believe that there are some families that just have this ‘personality type’ I know without a doubt my mother is one of these people…and I am as well and your description of Jason reminds me of my own experiences…my niece who is only 6 reminds me so much of Toby…in today’s schools we’d probably all be diagnosed.

    As an adult I take medication to help me focus because I don’t want it to interfere with my job. However, a part of me thinks it’s a bit of an adaptive trait in the current generation and that that’s why there is such an increase in cases. When there’s media and messages absolutely everywhere (you can’t go into a department store, a restaurant, or even a gas station, without some form of media blasting at you). Is it any wonder that the average young person doesn’t focus on anything in the same intervals that we try to make them during a school day? If you watch a young person during their ‘free time’ you’ll watch how they bounce from task to task. I also think that some adults, those of us that are prone to be ADD types ourselves are every bit as bad. These days I can’t sit through a meeting without someone trying to message on a PDA, talk on a cell phone, and use a laptop, all while they’re supposed to be paying attention to a presentation. Adults are really the worst possible students you can teach!

    I know medication helps, I know this because I take it. I’ve gone off and on them since I was about 25. But it bothers me so much to see young kids taking it. We don’t yet know the long term effects after these kids spend 20 years on a drug. I often wonder at what point do we decide as parents and educators to take a child off a med, that they’re finished? Is it when they reach adulthood? I also question in the meantime what strategies we are teaching kids for dealing with ADD in an adult world. If they’ve only learned to be medicated do we expect that they’ll be medicated the rest of their lives? What happens for them in the workplace? Do they know simple things about their personalities, like if someone is giving them directions they need to write them down and repeat them back? That there are probably some jobs that are better suited to their personality than others?

    As a teacher I was disgusted to see kids as young as 5 put on meds for ADD, while I watched the kindergarten classes cut recess from the curriculum. If you ask any group of adults to sit still for 8 hours they can’t do it without constantly getting up to chat on a cell phone, use the restroom, get a drink (the equivalent of sharpening their pencil excessively). If our students can’t do it we become frustrated as educators and find it easier to medicate than anything else. What did educators have to do before the era of medication and a diagnosis of such things? We were forced to create lessons that reached all students and their learning types, and sometimes it forced us as educators to teach outside our comfort level as well. I really don’t believe that kids are able to sit still for 8 hours a day anymore in the ‘traditional’ educational format and until we realize that we’ll continue to have behavior problems.

    I don’t mean to trivialize kids with ADD. As a teacher I did see legitimate cases of ADD, but the number I would say that I honestly feel were ADD vs. the number that were just kids being kids and exhibiting their own personalities was very small.

    I’m not sure at what point in time we decided that all kids had to be the same, but to me it sounds like a way to make the world a very dull place. We’re all different. Different people are a wonderful thing and they make the world a great place. Imagine if someone had tried to make Edison ‘normal’?

    And don’t even get me started on the phrase ‘cure autism.’ That’s a whole other post 😉

  20. SKL says:

    There is probably something to Jennifer’s comment about incessant, high stimulation in today’s environment.

    My kids rarely watch TV and have an ongoing balance between active and quiet times. They do pretty well in most situations. But it is hard for them to listen to their gymnastics teacher when there is moderately loud music being pumped into the gym, people are coming and going, and half of the other students are running around doing their own thing. As a former elementary ed student and volunteer tutor, I know teachers make it a point to fill their classrooms with stimulating decorations and learning materials. Are today’s classrooms too stimulating?

  21. tessafroom says:

    Great post Joy! Well written and said. I enjoyed my cup of tea while reading!
    SainityFound, that is very interesting about the vitamin treatment I liked reading everyone’s comments. Nikki, you are right that people are too quick to judge. We are all guilty of this at some point. I apologize if you felt judged by me at all! I know I can come off headstrong. I think you’re a great mom doing your best. Good luck with the herbal treatments, I hope it is successful with Bailey.

    Joy, if Jason did okay in school and at home, what problems indicated ADD? That must have been upsetting that they put Toby in special ed without you guys knowing! I do disagree and believe you definitely can try herbal and homeopathic treatments with children. It is done all the time and successful. It is true, Joy, we can all count a handful of people we know diagnosed with ADD, and that is so sad!! According to the professionals, only 2-3% should be diagnosed, as rare as mental retardation. I believe this is so rare that we should hardly ever hear of someone with this.

    I am about entering college to be a teacher or therapist. I am constantly reading self help books, about self-improvement, and natural cures. I love the Buddhist/Taoist ways of bringing your body and mind into balance. Eric plans to be a teacher also. So we both feel strongly about this. I believe any disorder is due to a lack of something in our diet, environment, exercise, or in our relationships.

    Impulsive, lack of focus, scatterbrained, hyper, can’t sit still…all classic descriptions of ADD…or a normal boy! Even I am guilty at times, as we all are. ADD is a psychiatric diagnosis, so it is scary that professionals other than psychologists or psychiatrists are diagnosing this.

    My husband, Joy’s nephew, was diagnosed as a child with ADHD, so I have researched this many times. I think most of his “ADD” symptoms derived from trouble at home in combination with Eric’s innate personality. We all respond to life stresses differently depending on our personalities. If you look at his Leo horoscope, they are dramatic and energetic by nature. They also naturally love to be center of attention. Mix that all up with trouble at home or emotional stress, and you’ve got dynamite. Even though I disagree with medicating children for ADD, except in rare cases, I do think that Darryl (my father-in-law) did the best he could and I am forever grateful for the man he raised. Father like son, Darryl is a wonderful, loving man. There should be more options available in the healthcare system and in schools. I went to Fridley High school with Eric. I’d say 90% of the kids in “special education” at the time were troubled kids from troubled homes who just needed more positive attention and reinforcement. It is sad to give a surface label of ADHD before looking deeper into the circumstances surrounding a child.

    I want all parents reading to know that because ADD is a psychiatric diagnosis the military most likely will NOT accept an applicant, even if it was a past diagnosis and undiagnosed since. Also the Olympics and others may not accept an applicant I have read.

    The show DEAL OR NO DEAL, the host has ADD and I saw him on the Bonnie Hunt Show. He definitely has it! She asked, “Do you drink coffee?” as soon as she could get a word in!! He is hilarious, and as an adult just got diagnosed. I thought maybe he did crack before coming on the show! He is one of the 2% for sure!

  22. tessafroom says:

    I hate labels. I hate mental diagnosis’ because it is so serious and people use them as excuses many times. People also become dependent on labels. Anything is possible for anyone. I believe this strongly. Eric was overly hyper, ect., as a child-yes. He needed the medication at one point, but I wish they did not give a “disorder” label to it. A label like ADD sticks with the person their whole life and follows them. He is balanced as the average person is now! He is successful and is as normal as you and me. Labels like “depression” and “add” are used too loosely. Imbalances of the mind and body can be fixed without drugs. My husband is proof of this! He stopped his medication in the middle of high school, and went on to get his G.E.D, attend college, and get many awards in the Navy currently. Ever since I knew him in high school, he has been able to focus for hours on things. It just needs to be challenging and of interest and reason, but we all need that to focus!

    Sorry, I can write a book.

  23. tessafroom says:

    Jennifer, I love what you said about your experience as a teacher. So true that adults can’t sit still that long either!! At meetings, work, or college classes- I admit I have “add” also then.

  24. mssc54 says:

    I suppose there is a reason that I am the only to notice the pills in the pic are “Little Blue Pills.” Hmmmm

    I bet they will make you focus!!! 🙂

  25. tessafroom says:

    lol

  26. Joy says:

    Tessa, Jason had a hard time learning because he would get stuck on something and move on to the next thing, to the next thing, to the next thing and never finished what he started so he had bad grades. I don’t think he ever got anything above a C and D’s were mostly what he got. He had to take Science in high school, all three years in summer school. He felt it was better for him as the classroom size was smaller. He knew something was wrong. He wasn’t dumb by any means but he couldn’t concentrate but being he had no behavior issues, it went undiagnosed. Normally “naughtiness” was noticed first and he didn’t have it that way and neither did I, Darryl or Bailey.

    I firmly believe that it’s hereditary. I’ve done a lot or research on this also as would anyone who had this many family members with this. You want to understand it and learn what your options are. My mom also has it. She admitted it to me the other day that she has a hard time focusing sometimes and staying on track with things. If it is hereditary like the experts think it is, it only makes sense that more and more people are going to develop it as time goes on.

    I don’t believe astrological signs are anything except a fun thing. I don’t think they play a part of anything in life. I also don’t believe that an unhappy home has anything to do with this either. There are just to many of us that have it. Paul and I never so much as raised our voices at each other and both our kids have it. The debate may be on because I don’t feel that has anything to do with it. I feel you are born with it and either you have it or you don’t. Just like any other disease.

    You also have to realize Tessa that you didn’t know Eric when he had it the worst. As we grow and age, I feel we either can adapt to it and do things in a way that we can deal with it better or it leaves us somewhat. Eric wasn’t like this in high school. He had it the worst in elementary school. We have two people who have said here today that they are on medication for it now. Some people will always have it to that degree.

    I wish that when I was in school I could have had help for it. I always felt stupid because I never got things like other people did and it affected me that way. I never felt “smart” and I’m not a dumb person. I just couldn’t put it on paper like I was supposed to.

  27. nikki says:

    I agree Joy, I think astrological signs and stuff like that are for fun. If Leo’s want to be the center of attention….that is NOT me. Just my opinion. I don’t think me being a Leo has one thing to do with the way I am. Please Tessa don’t be offended, I have a best friend who is into that sort of thing…scientifically it has no depth to it. I also don’t think it has anything to do with your upbringing. Most people find that out that Bailey is on medication for ADHD say to me, he doesn’t act like he has adhd. Well, no he doesn’t…because he is on meds. Bailey doesn’t have the behavioral problems that generally comes with adhd. which I’m thankful for!!! Tessa I didn’t think you were judging me one bit, it’s a conversation between adults here. We don’t all have to agree or even like what one another says, but respect always…you didn’t disrespect me so all is good!!! Can’t wait to see you, Eric and Ben in a few weeks!!!

  28. SKL says:

    I think there may be more than one origin of ADD / ADHD – just like many other things. Maybe it’s true that some environmental factors have this effect on some people, while it is caused by genetics in others, and is just random in still others. As a mom of two-year-olds, I want to know of any respectable research about possible environmental factors, so I can consider whether I want to control those factors and nip any problems in the bud. I also feel there are environmental factors that affect everyone’s behavior, ADD or not, and they can push borderline kids from one side of the line to the other.

    I have two step-nieces with young kids who are diagnosed with ADD. One has chosen meds, the other has chosen alternatives such as diet and targeted activities at preschool. Of the two, the one who isn’t on meds has shown more improvement. That doesn’t prove anything, other than the fact that meds are not the only alternative to consider.

    This is a great discussion.

  29. Jennifer says:

    SKL,
    I wholeheartedly agree! This is a great discussion!

    I also agree with you that I do think there are variety of factors at play. Perhaps some individuals have more of a predisposition than others to it…that may come from their genes and then other outside triggers may trigger the ADD.

    I know that personally I’ve been struggling in my current work environment which is cubicle based. I find that I haven’t been able to leave my medication behind as easily this time. Cubicles are a horrible work environment and I don’t know what I was thinking at the time that I gave up my classroom to move to a cubby. I guess I thought a fatter paycheck and bigger title were worth the loss of walls and doors. Now I realize how mentally exhausting it is to have to listen to everyone’s conversations ALL DAY LONG.

    It reminded me that I wrote a blog post about it out of pure frustration one day a long time ago…
    http://furoreandfrenzy.com/?p=85

  30. Amber says:

    ok… *deep breath*

    Here goes..

    This is what I know about the subject. I am not a doctor for those of you who don’t know me… but I do know alot about medicine, psychology, and overall health. This happens to be a subject I can speak on with reasonable authority.

    ADHD is a spectrum disorder. It is often misdiagnosed for behavioral problems by both doctors and lazy teachers. There is very specific criteria to follow. Complicated testing and analysis should be followed by a trained professional. Not a GP, and not an average teacher. Sheesh! Sure, they can give you an indicator of something being wrong with your child, but no way could they possibly diagnose this properly. You should be very wary of them doing so or putting anything on your child’s school record.

    Many times, these children will be shunted into special ed classes because teachers don’t like the child, or don’t want to deal with them. Period. Also, schools get more funding for each special needs child too.

    The FIRST thing you should do before ANYTHING else with your child is think about what stresses your child is under? Are there any family issues? If you don’t have a good perspective on your life, ask friends, and other family members. Children reflect what is happening at home. Lack of discipline, and lack of stability. That is a simple fact. Many children don’t get these needs taken care of and they act out. Simple.

    The SECOND thing you should look at is DIET. Does your child eat alot of refined sugars? High carbohydrate? Lots of processed foods? Alot of chemicals and artificial foods? Prepackaged, loaded with E-numbers? Many children are really agitated by these foods. Its no joke. Some children are even allergic to wheat and milk which drives them to act crazy and not be able to concentrate. Simplifying your child’s diet down to the basics is the best thing to do. Fresh food. Fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese. You start out slow and once you are sure the child can tolerate one thing, you add the next. It is not for the lazy parent. But it can bring amazing results! I have seen this do so much for children I can’t even tell you!

    Place the child in sports. Get their activity level up. This will help them process the extra chemicals running through their little bodies.

    Put them on a schedule. Children with ADHD work better when they are on a strict schedule and routine of daily life. IE a time to get up every day, meal times, home work times, play times, bath times. If they know what times they are supposed to do stuff, they respond better.

    Be consistent. One of the problems when dealing with children with ADHD is that the parents aren’t consistent. They flip flop around as much as the child does. Discipline is very important as are strict guidelines for this type of child. Im not talking about being an ogre here. It can be a quiet type of kind discipline (which is my own preferred method). It just needs to be consistent.

    Finally if all else fails, then try the meds. There are many things out there. Try the smallest dose first! Don’t go and give them the strongest dose. Doctors are lazy. Don’t let them be. Your child needs to find the right balance for them.

    Now many children have a hard time being on the medicine and eating. So I always suggest giving them protein drinks for nutrition. They are packed with vitamins and quite a few of them taste good. They need that to build their bodies. I personally like the EAS range. You can make fruit smoothies too and throw protein powder in for some energy. Be creative.

    The main thing is that the child know that this is not a punishment for them. This doesn’t make them bad, or wrong. This is something to help them grow.

    Ok, Im exhausted now… Great post Joy… Im putting my stethoscope up now..Hope this was helpful to you all.

    P.S. Yes, B vitamins are helpful.. but make sure that they are taken in the suspension form or chewable so that they are absorbed properly.

  31. Tessa says:

    Nikki, I just got to say that religion also has no scientific evidence, and yet millions of people have faith and believe in the word of God over anything else.

    The drug industry runs America and so many people believe doctors are right, if they stamp their approval they must be right. They linked it to a gene, so it must be a disorder. Couldn’t it be normal? Where we do we draw the line between normal and abnormal? If so many of us have this, as you think, then shouldn’t ADD be normal behavior? If half of us are this way, and half are not, I see it as not a disorder or disease then. Sounds to me like normal weaknesses anyone can have… We trust in this money making business too much, and in natural cures to little. It is so sad to me and drives me crazy!

    If you studied astrology you would see zodiac signs have more scientific links than you think. It is corporate America that wants you to think otherwise, and you do. Horoscopes have a HUGE part to do with who we are, what are temperaments are, and if we know more about ourselves, then we can improve and become better individuals. We then know how to balance ourselves. We all have our strong points and our weak points. We all have our good and our bad, and a disorder or disease is only our body or mind telling us we are out of balance. Horoscopes help you know what your good and bad points are. Joy, you believe you are born with a disorder such as this, and I believe we are born with a personality. Eric was born with a more optimistic, outgoing, persistent, hyper type personality as Leo’s are. The only reason there is no scientific links is because corporate America would make no money if we understood ourselves better we could cure ourselves.
    Joy, I know Eric was worse when he was younger, but kids lash out more than adults usually in any case.

    Many people don’t see my points because I have studied Eastern Religions, as Eric said I am a Buddhist/Taoist. I also believe in the Law of Attraction-we create what we think about. We ARE what we think about. If you think you can’t or think you can, either way you are right.

  32. Tessa says:

    As Eric stated, he was mostly just bored with school. He agrees there were emotional issues that probably had to do with his lack of focus and acting out. He could concentrate on other things. He said the drugs made him feel out of it, unlike himself, and he lost his appetite. The symptoms were worse than the diagnosis. I don’t see either how the disorder magically disappeared when he turned 18…he was able without drugs or treatment to focus enough to pass his G.E.D, pass E.M.T curriculm, and excel in the Navy which all requires ALOT of focus. They were still giving him Ritalin when he was 17, but he pretended to take it and did not.

    People with ADD are not able to focus on anything for long periods of time. This is stated in the definition. Yet, Eric could focus on television, video games, follow conversation for hours. I think the doctors were wrong.

  33. Tessa says:

    Eric feels very strongly about this, he’d comment, but it is upsetting to him I can tell. Labels are hard, especially on kids.

  34. Tessa says:

    Joy, when Eric was in high school he was still in special education classes for ADD and all over the place!! He just really needed something to focus ON in school and a reason. So you, Fana, and Darryl have ADD you think? Were any of you diagnosed? Darryl seems fine concentrating on things for long periods of time.

  35. mssc54 says:

    @Dr. Amber;

    Dang girl you are so amazing! You are so right on with your comment!

    I don’t know as much about the medical stuff as I could but I do know about children. You nailed it! A consistant routine with love and discipline (and remember discipline is a form of love) is so crucial to help a child’s proper emotional, pshchological and physical developement.

    Fantabulos stuff here Joy!

  36. nikki says:

    Tessa I respect the fact that you believe in astrology. I don’t and I won’t. Religion…not even up for discussion with me. This post is about add/adhd, to me it is real not just a personality trait. At least we have politics…there we agree!!! With this I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  37. Tessa says:

    Niiki, I DO believe add/adhd is real. I guess I should say I believe the symptoms are real. I believe it is curable and there are many options. I believe there are many cases out there where personality traits are mistaken for a disorder, and I was only speaking on Eric’s behalf. Astrology and religion help me personally to find answers and yes, even cures. But I do understand if you do not believe in either. I am only speaking my mind!! No pressure 🙂

  38. Tessa says:

    Right on Amber! Great advice!! My husband was shunted into special ed classes like you said when he was a boy, and had trouble at home.

  39. Tessa says:

    Hey Nikki, could you send me your mom’s address? I’d like to send her a card and pictures! my email is tessa.froom@yahoo.com Thanks!

  40. Joy says:

    Dr Amber…were you ever spot on. Everything you said we tried and or did. Diet was the first thing we changed. Toby had a lot of skin allergies and dairy was the first thing that got changed. That and prepackaged food. We also cut him way back on milk and that helped a lot. It was very hard with Toby though because he loved it. It helped not only his skin but also his impulsiveness. We also cut out red dye completely. Just a few things really made a difference. Toby’s pediatrician also suggested martial arts so he did that one winter. My boys also swam all winter every winter which really helped.

    Routines and consistency really played a HUGE part too. With Jason, he needed the soft spoken, kind and very loving teachers. He did best with those types. Toby needed to have the stricter ones. Jason had a really nice grandmotherly type teacher for 5th grade and they put Toby with her and she was awful for him. She was the type who’d let him have “one more chance” all the time and Toby can’t handle that. He’d do something 14 times and the 15th time she’d get mad and he never knew what he did wrong. He had to have a line drawn on the floor and if he crossed it he had to pay for it. Every single time. This is huge.

    Tessa, it’s pretty hard to be diagnosed with something that’s not been discovered yet. Mssc said it also. When we were going to school we were either “class clowns” or lazy. We got punished for this kind of thing. Also, not everyone has the same symptoms. If it were only that easy. That was the point of my post was to point out the differences in this thing. It’s almost like you aren’t reading what’s been said by anyone. There are huge variations to this and that’s what makes diagnosing so hard. Darryl can focus NOW, we are talking about when younger. You also learn how to deal with it as you get older. Think of things like dyslexia, kids who had that before it was discovered were considered stupid. Once you know you have it, that’s when you can be taught. It doesn’t magically disappear, you just do things differently.

    I’ve also already said this about special ed, when your in it, your in it and it’s very hard to get out even if you aren’t using their services for two to three years. They keep you in their files in case you need it again. That’s why Eric was still considered in it when he was 17. I also said in my original post that IF I COULD go back, I’d have liked to see Eric weaned off sooner. Toby was merely tested for something and was in it and I didn’t even know. Once they get you in, it’s hard to get out.

  41. SKL says:

    This discussion gets better and better, from an outsider’s perspective. I feel that Tessa’s points are interesting. I too have studied many alternative schools of thought / religions and it’s really a good exercise to go through, because it helps one to notice when one is making an assumption versus seeing a hard fact.

    When it comes to parents’ choices for their children, I think we have all questioned them at some time in our lives. Ultimately we realize that they did the best they could out of love, and we love them for that. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is irrelevant at that point. However, if it gives us a new perspective for how we might do things differently for our own kids, then it’s not a completely wasted exercise.

    Personally, I do some things with my kids that are considered weird by many Americans. The organic food – my family acts like that’s almost abuse. I draw on many philosophies in helping them think through choices. I have always planned to pull the best from all the different sources I’ve studied and hope it helps my kids to struggle less than I did when difficult choices and emotions arise. Am I doing the right things? As long as I’m doing what I believe is best at a given time, it’s the right thing to do. We can’t go back and change a day in our child’s life based on information we discover later.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit I noticed last night. They say about half of young people have a psychological problem. They are concerned that more people aren’t getting diagnosed and treated. I am concerned that they are not standing back and looking at what they are saying. I don’t think it’s possible for the majority of people to be abnormal. Maybe they need to get a better handle on what “normal” is.

  42. Tessa says:

    Joy, I did not mean to offend you. We see things through different eyes, that is all. You did state you have/had it, and that Fana has it. Just because you have a hard time focusing or are hyperactive does NOT mean you have add/adhd. There is a list of criteria and assessments that should be done carefully. There really needs to be better use of the label and diagnosis than there is today. We all agree there. Ritalin is classified with morphine and opium. Heavy stuff. There is also no genetic or scientific proof that this is hereditary. Only 1-2% of the population should have this diagnosis, and yet 15% of the nation does.

  43. Tessa says:

    Thanks SKL, that is funny about the organic food with your fam! I go organic with some things, my husband use to look at me funny, now he buys it too!

  44. Joy says:

    Tessa, you didn’t offend me but that’s the reason I wrote this post. Because there are such varying degree’s of this. It’s not as easy as a checklist. That’s also why I left out “scientific” studies and I said that in the very beginning. This has been my journey. You can have differences in this. Jason and Toby have the opposite ends of the spectrum of this. That’s why I wrote it. Me, Jason, Bailey, Darryl and Fana have it less noticeably but it did affect all of our learning ability. It affected our learning and our ability to finish things we started and none of us are “hyper.” Eric and Toby both had the squirrelly aspect of it but that doesn’t make this less real nor does it make having this “bad.” Kids should NOT be punished for this.

    It’s also possible to outgrow things. I was a lot more allergic as a child to things that I’m not now. Medically, we have come a long way and I think most people try every single they can rather that to medicate first. I also had terrible Eczema as a child and outgrew that. Our bodies and hormones are constantly changing and that’s why your pediatrician needs to always be in the picture. I also don’t think Ritalin is used anymore by many people.

  45. nikki says:

    Tessa, that’s so funny that you are asking for my Mom’s address. She asked for your’s when Ben born so she could send a gift but….I forgot, sorry. I’ll send it on Facebook k.

  46. nikki says:

    Nevermind I’ll send it to your email…see how attentive I AM!!

  47. Tessa says:

    Thanks Nikki! I see what you mean Joy. Yea, Ritalin might not be used much now, but it has a lot of different brand names…concerta is one. Yea, if Eric had it he outgrew it.

  48. nikki says:

    This is the greatest discussion we’ve had on here. I have been so moved and educated by this. I’m going through my kitchen now and replacing all boxed and processed foods with fresh. Jason may not like it but it’s better for all of us. I’m getting the Vitamin B to go with his multi vitamin he already takes. Amber you have given such great advice, I’m thankful for that and everyone else’s.

  49. Amber says:

    I thought of some other “tips” that might be helpful for those of you who have children that suffer with this.

    First of all, using the montessori method is really helpful. The concept that children emulate their environment. So if you make your movements quiet and precise, they will too. If you are calm, they will be too. It really does work.

    Second of all is color therapy. Having children who are already agitated by tons of stimulation is only going to get worse with alot of color around them. People want to have their children’s rooms full of “things”. Paint your childs room in calming colors such as soft green and a warmer tone of blue. Avoid angry colors like yellows, oranges and reds that get them going and energized. Don’t depress them with cold colors either like blues and purples. I know it sounds like alot to know, but really if you think about the place you sleep, keeping it calm and not full of stimulation is best.

    The final thought is music. You have heard that it calms the savage beast? Well it does with children too. Having rhythmic soft music is calming. Classical soft music is best. I realize its not what YOU like, but it is what is best for the child. Avoid hard rock or anything that will get them agitated or jumping. Especially around homework time and times that you need them to be calm. Meditation is a good tool to use if you are open to it too.

    Thats it… all my thoughts for you. Hope this is helpful.

  50. Just a Mom says:

    Amber,
    You are so right about the music. My oldest daughter who has ADD also has panic attacks especially around a large group of people like at the mall. She can usually bounce back from the attack is she has her music with her.

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