Would like to Start an Informed Discussion About ADHD/ADD

Updated on January 15, 2008
K.O. asks from Raeford, NC
11 answers

I am a stay at home mother of 4 amazing boys. My two oldest children have special needs. My 10 year old has ADHD, my 8 year old has Asperger's Syndrome. I have read previous posts from other mothers who have had questions or concerns regarding the medication that their ADHD child is on. I would just like to start an INFORMED discussion on this topic. I know that there are a lot of reactions on this topic and many peolple feel very strongly about whether ADHD is actually a medical condition.

Here is my expeirience, my son has severe ADHD. This was diagnosed through a Psychiatrist, a developmental peditrician, and pediatric neurologist. While it is not part of the normal protocol to have a brain scan, my son was also exhibiting signs of petite-mal seizures around the time that he was diagnosed. In looking at the brain scan it was very clear that the frontal lobe of his brain was not getting proper bloodflow. This ANATOMICAL problem in his brain can only be managed by medication. The medication increases the blood flow to the frontal lobe of his brain which makes the nuerons in this area fire; and that in turn controls his hyperactivity and his impulsiveness. It also increases his ability to concentrate.

I have read from multiple well meaning posters who suggest that proper parenting, diet, frequent exercise can manage ADHD. I have also read where people feel as this condition is a farse. Will you indulge me for a moment to say that there are other diseases and conditions in the human body that take management by medication or life style change. Imagine if you will that your child had diabetes. Some people can manage this condition by proper nutrition and exercise. While some must be on medication. If your child needed to be on medication because they were unable to control their blood-sugar through diet alone, would you withold medication? Any responsible mother would say of course not. This is the case in ADHD/ADD.

There are varying degrees of disease. While some are effected slightly some are more severe. I will agree that as a parent you have a resonsibilty to ensure your childs success in every way you can. If a parent finds themselves having to face this decision (as with any other health decision or disease), they should learn as much as they can about the condition and seek 2nd and 3rd opinions before committing to a treatment plan. But to blindly submit and not question the doctors or professionals working with your child is as irresponsible as knowing a condition exsists and not properly managing it.

I would also like to say that these children need more than just a medication. They need suport, understanding, and consistency. In order to successfully manage this condition they need some special considerations at school either IEP or a 504 (special ed outlined in the Individuals with Disablities Education Act) regular counseling with a licensed therapist, and if medication is needed a pediatric psychiatrist or pediatrician. These integral pieces have to work together in concert. There is NO MAGIC PILL to help these children. It is a lifetime of care concern and advocating for your child.

Our greatest responsibilty as parents is to ensure that our children are happy well adjusted successful people. Our prisions are overflowing with members of our society that had undiagnosed/untreated ADHD/ADD. They were not criminals when they were 5 years old they were kids who couldn't sit still and couldn't control themselves. Their well meaning parents tried to beat the "bad" out of them and these kids walked away as damaged goods. So many of these kids turn to drugs in order to self-medicate and feel normal. This is one of the greatest tragedies in our society. I hope that I have reached some ill-informed people, and helped to give a voice for children like my son who struggle everyday to fit in. Please don't judge a mother of a special needs child until you have lived a year in our shoes!

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L.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Thank you so much for writing this!! I posted a request not long ago regarding my sons meds & was very put off by some of the responces I received. Some were incredibly helpful as well, but there seems to be a lot of finger pointing when you are a parent of an ADHD child. We do counseling, IEP at school, Meds, psychiatrist, consistancy, understand & all of these things, but still struggle. I feel that Adderall XR is the wrong med for my son & will be discussing this with is doctors next week. I hope & pray that things will improve....I would love to be a part of your forum of informed parents!! Thanks again

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S.H.

answers from Washington DC on

amen...i agree whole heartedly...however i would like to know what prompted you to have apergers diagnosed in your other child?...i have aspergers myself (not actually diagnosed until this year..im 22) and i have been told they typically do not test for the disease in early childhood b/c it doesnt present itself with obvious symptoms and is found by ruling out all other related conditions..(depression, add,bi polar, etc)

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R.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Good for you. I agree with you, Although I do not have a child with this my nephew does.His parents have no idea what to do with him and it makes me sad to see his frustration.He is very smart, made high honer role, but does not play well with others.He has never had a best friend(he's 11)and is always looking for ways to get his energy out.I think his parents are just ill informed and have given up on any one wanting to help them.It's nice to see that you are willing to inform yourself about all aspects of this disease for the betterment of your children.You are already on the path to providing them with the best possable future.Well done. R. F

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L.L.

answers from Dover on

Wow I would love to thank you so much for your support. I also have 3 special needs children only two needs medication through. My daughter has ADHD she will hit her head against her carseat, pillow while she is in bed because she can't manage to stay still. She once ran through the school because i didn't give her her meds. So yes i understand what you are saying. I hate it when i go into a store with her and she throws a fit and people look at me the wrong way that hurts. I am not a bad mother she has an issue. See like you say the children need support she gets meds shes in therapy and she has an IEP. Please keep up the good work i would love to talk to you more. My email address is [email protected]____.com

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I.M.

answers from Richmond on

I too believe that ADD/ ADHD are both real conditions and that like any medical problem you need a proper diagnosis, which you obviosly have gotten, and then find the best course of treatment. There are alot of kids out there though that are being medicated unessecarily, in my opinion.
I hate to hear stories of kids whose teachers are the ones that 'diagnose' the problem and the parents just ask for a prescription form their Pediatrician, I've heard of too many pediatricains that are all to happy to hand out prescriptions for the current popular drug.

I can only imagine that having a child with specail needs has been hard on you, it's demanding enough to be a parent, so I give you great credit for doing you best raising your kids.
I always feared that I might have a child one day who wasn't 'perfect' but then while pregnant with my son I had to attend a 6yr olds birthday party, and all of the kids had different special needs. After spending an afternoon with these kids and their parents, mostly watching from the sidelines, my fear was gone. I realized what precious souls these kids are, and how they brought out the best in their parents.

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L.S.

answers from Washington DC on

My tenth grader just got diagnosed with non-hyperactive ADHD from experts at Johns Hopkins. She also tests "gifted." She isn't seeing any difference on 18 mg concerta. At school, she's an A's and 0's kind of girl -- she'll spend long hours and finish a project and leave it in the printer (or the kitchen table or her locker) and she puts off the easy, little homework until too late, etc -- there's always a story.

She's a nice kid - not obnoxiously rebellious at all -- but her teachers perceive her as rebellious and unmotivated because she doesn't work to conform (or to not conform -- she just doesn't see why anyone would work to conform...) and she mostly gets her zeros on the work they give to separate the motivated from the not -- the notebook that has to be in the right order or the five minute detail-oriented worksheet. She has four teachers that brag that they never take late work. The psycho-educational evaluation suggested we meet with the school to put in place a 504 or a IEP. I think that it's likely that such a request will be denied because her A's and 0's often end up being C's and she's mostly in advanced classes because she came out of the gifted center.

Has anyone successfully met with FCPS and gotten an excellent supportive plan in place? Any horror -- avoid this at all cost -- stories? (Yes, I'm willing to homeschool her, but only if she's willing to homeschool, which she isn't right now.) Any suggestions for the meeting?

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S.W.

answers from Harrisburg on

Hi K.,
I was wondering what kind of response you recieved.... I would be happy to join your group... I have four sons all of whom have some form or level of ADD or ADHD... they are 24 almost 25, 22 almost 23, 17 and 15. It seems almost like fighting a war looking back over the years of the things I have gone through with them and learning process that I have gone through. I only hope that thier kids don't have it because even with all I have learned as you know there is no exact or 'pat' answer for everychild or person....

S.

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M.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hey I've got to admit there has been a mother or two that I've suggested other reasons for their childs "ADHD"... But that's based on their discription of the problem.

I greatly recgonize the need for meds in actual cases of ADHD. Though I am of the mind that way too many children are being diagnosed with these type of conditions! I think most the tiem a doctors just diagnose an active child with something to placate the parent and parents need to have "control" over things!

I happen to think that tests and such, as you've had, should be done on all children before they're diagnosed and labeled as ADD or ADHD! And for those children that don't have test results like yours just be accepted for who they are!!

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L.N.

answers from Washington DC on

K., I enjoyed reading your post.
I am not against medication...after proper diagnosis.

I am, however, against 'first visit diagnosis" with the pediatrician at an age when there's much going on with the child and those symptoms could be anything, nothing or ADHD.
Once properly diagnosed then of course I would consider anything and everything to help my child out (don't have any).

But here's why I say what I am saying. . .my daughter was 15 or 18 months old when we were referred to see i believe it was an occupational therapist (don't know for sure, we have seen bzillion therapists mainly due to wrong diagnosis, not always). we were told that she might have ADHD.
My child at the time WAS either 15 or 18 months.
She could have had anything but that young it is too early to know. Why? Because there are a million toys lying around, and she bounces from one to another without spending much time with one.

I call that exploring not difficulty concentrating. Concentrating on what???? there are toys, lights, music different stuff for different toys and she just wanted all of them.
so, since I want to have things checked, the earlier the diagnosis the better I took her to see a specialist. Not even 5 minutes into the 'evaluation' i was told: who came up with ADHD? she's just curious etc.
So, no my children don't so far, and that's what makes me really mad. . .we live in a society that needs, thrives on diagnosing everything. Why? Why not let them be what they want and need and will be.

But, if there is a proper diagnosis, after first and second opinion and then checked by specialists then of course I would research everything that is available to them and try go the best way, and then play it by ear. If medication works, great. If not, look more
good topic.
vlora

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R.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Wow, Someone who lives in my world. I totally agree with everything you have to say. My 11 year old has multiple diagnosis of ADHD, Bi-Polar , Pervasive Developmental Disorder & Seasonal Effective Disorder. I find it very difficult to find support outside of our therapist & psychiatrist. The schools do a little but nowhere near enough. I would love to be involved in your discussion.

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S.F.

answers from Washington DC on

K.,

Thank you so much for the well informed advise that you just gave. It is ironic that when I first discovered this page a few months ago, my son was "diagnosed" by a Developmental Peidiatrician that we had met with for the first time with him for a little over an hour. She gave him "test" that involved him writing and answerign questions. In the end she told us that he had ADHD and prescribed the Aderoll for him. My husband and I agonized over it and I posted on the board, receivng many forms of advise. I took it all in and it's liek you said, we asked ourselves if we are being fair to him by not giving him the medication and if it really was something that would help him, wouldnt' we be in fact hurting him. Perhaps he did need assistance to get him to be able to "stop moving around so much, stop refusing to sit and write or color". SO we in the end filled the prescription, gave him the pills for about a week and we stopped. We saw the mood swings, loss of an apetite that we already weak and by putting the pills in his yougurt - one of the few foods that he loves, we in fact caused him to no longer want to eat yogurt because of the "crunchy" which was the conte contents of the capsules.

Needless to say, while we are truly wanting the best for our son, we felt that diagnosis was not the best for our child. My husband and I reached that conclusion based on conversations with our pediatrician who has known Tyler from birth, his teachers who have dealt with him in many circumstances, his daycare provider who has had him for the past 4 years and the school Special ed coordinator and her staff including the psycologist at the school.

Tyler has difficulty with his fine motor skills, they are under developed and this causes him to have little patience for any excercises that require the use of the motor skills, such as writing, cutting, riding a bicycle, playing basket ball and other things that 6 year olds are doing with their hands and feet that require the use of the motor skills. I used to think that he was uncoordinated, little did I know or understand that he had a more serious issue goign on inside of him.

We now have an appointment in a coupel of weeks with another Developmental Pediatrician whom we are hoping can and will provide us with the proper diagnosis and treatment plan for Tyler. In all honesty, there are very strong signs that our son suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder which ties into the motor skills issue.

I'm sorry that turned into a long story but I wanted to applaud your story and thank you for taking the time to put it out there to others who are going through the same issues with their children. We may not all have the same issues with our children, but the bottom line is that we all want the best for them and we should be committed to doing whatever is necessary to give it to them. If it means medication is needed, dont' be afraid, however it you are one of the fortunate ones that can find a natural alternative and it actually works, consider yourself blsessed and go for it. Just remember what K. said, our jails are overflowing because of the fear of "medicating" our kids, would you prefer a doctor's prescription during their youth that is controlled or to ignore the situation and keep "beating" them or yelling at them and hoping that someday it will go away?

Take care and many prayers and blessings to you, your son and your family,

s

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