I swear if I read one more meme about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) being a made up condition, I will scream. If I see one more post about kids with ADHD just needing a ‘kick up the arse’, I will explode.
ADHD is not just a child being naughty. It is a documented disability. It is not a new condition. In fact it was first added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980. At the risk of alarming anyone, that is nearly 40 years ago.
In April last year, Mr 7 was diagnosed with ADHD – Inattentive Type. In his own words, his brain goes too fast to make sense of the things he needs to do. These issues really became apparent when he started year 1 at school. His teacher knew he could do the work, but Mr 7 just wasn’t completing it. He was getting frustrated that he couldn’t do the things that he too knew that he could do.
Mr 7 has had sleep issues since just before he was 2. He wasn’t bad because he couldn’t sleep. Him not sleeping wasn’t because he was being deliberately disruptive. He just couldn’t wind down mentally after his day. While neurotypical kids would be exhausted after a big day of activities, he was wired and unable to calm his thoughts.
When Mr 7 was diagnosed with ADHD, the pediatrician suggested medication to help with his concentration issues. For me it was a no brainer. I knew for myself, how much the right medication can help when you are struggling mentally. I also knew there was a stigma around medicating for ADHD.
Some people have the belief that medicating ADHD is unnecessarily drugging kids with something that is borderline legal narcotics. They believe that ADHD is just a behavourial issue, not a neurological one. They believe the horror stories of kids turned into zombies and refuse to listen to the success stories.
I went into trying medication with an open mind. I knew that there was the possibility that it wouldn’t work for us, that the side effects could outweigh any benefits. I was prepared to take him off them if they were doing him more harm than good. However I would approach any medication in the same way. It wouldn’t matter if it was for a physical illness or a mental one.
ADHD often manifests itself as naughty behaviour in children because they are frustrated. Imagine if you couldn’t pin down any of your thoughts, no matter how hard you tried. Now imagine that this happens all of the time. Imagine that even though you wanted to do well in class, you wanted to listen, you wanted to do the best but those swirling thoughts were all you had.
Now imagine someone told you that a simple white pill could mean that you could take hold of some of those thoughts. Wouldn’t you want to give it a try? Wouldn’t you want to give it a try for your child?
Medication isn’t the only answer for treating ADHD, and it doesn’t work for everyone. However I would hate to think that I had stopped my son from reaching his potential because of the stigma around a white pill. Seeing how proud of himself he is, because he is achieving things he didn’t think he could is worth it. Seeing him being able to learn about the things he wants to, makes it worth it.