I know better. I know better than to read the comments section on any article related to ADHD. But I’ve gone there anyway and have been incensed at the misinformed, and sometimes downright mean, comments that I’ve read.
“ADHD is a myth that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have created to make money”… “All a kid needs who is diagnosed with ADHD is a swift kick in the rear”… “Parents with kids on ADHD medications are lazy and don’t want to discipline their bratty kid so instead they give them a pill to make them like a zombie”
And just this morning, a post on Facebook from someone who does not have an ADHD child about an article they read saying American parents throw medication at hyper-active children. I’ve heard them all. As a parent of an ADHD child, it hurts me to see these kinds of statements just flippantly thrown about. Here are a few characteristics of our son……
- He’s not a brat.
- He’s smart as a whip.
- He’s forgetful sometimes.
- He’s shy until he’s warmed up to you.
- He’s hilarious.
- He’s chatty.
- He’s an amazing writer and a darn good artist.
- He’s kind.
- He’s amazingly compassionate for his age.
- He’s vulnerable at times.
- He’s gentle.
Does this sound like ADHD? Maybe not to someone who hasn’t raised a child with this disorder. As with anything dealing with the brain, I firmly believe that every child with this disorder is unique.
Let me give you a tiny bit of background. At his 8 year old check-up, we talked with his pediatrician about concerns with school. He would find himself walking around his desk and not even be aware of why he felt the need to get up. His grades plummeted because he couldn’t recall what his assignments were about and had great difficulty remembering his teacher’s instructions. He didn’t have any friends. His doctor suggested we talk with a specialist in pediatric behavioral health. After a few appointments, several lengthy conversations and an in-depth questionnaire and analysis, the diagnosis was ADHD. I am not a fan of medications in general and tend to avoid them when I can, both for me and for our kids. So it was with great reluctance and some fear that we tried an ADHD medication after consulting with physicians and reading up on their benefits and side effects.
We did some additional research on our own too. I checked out every book I could find about ADHD and wondered: how can someone say this is a myth when there are scans showing the drastic differences between an ADHD brain and a non-ADHD brain? How can that not be concrete proof coupled with all of his symptoms? Why would someone say ADHD isn’t real, but other neurological disturbances like depression and schizophrenia are?
ADHD has been in the media a lot over the past ten years. So much so that many physicians have addressed this notion that ADHD is a myth. Dr. Russell Barkley is one who has addressed this notion head on. In 2002, he and more than 70 other international scientists signed the International Consensus Statement on ADHD. Their scientific findings on this disorder provide evidence of the ramifications of those who are afflicted with this disorder.
Let’s fast forward six years since our son’s diagnosis. He is now an 8th grader. He’s a nice kid. He has lots of friends. He’s never been in trouble at school. He’s growing like a weed. I checked his grades just last night – – Five A’s and Two B’s. Not shabby. I truly believe he is on a drastically different path than he would have been had we ignored his symptoms and not given him the help he needed. Yes – medicated help.
I know there are a lot of people out there who will disagree with what I’ve written and I admit that I think ADHD seems to be over-diagnosed in many areas. But if I could just interject one thought: Be kind. There are parents out there like me that are dealing with ADHD every day in a responsible and caring way. Please don’t call us lazy. Please don’t say our child is a brat. Please don’t say this isn’t real for us. None of that is true. We are involved, he is a great person and this is real for him. And I know we’re not alone.