You think you know better but you don’t

Brace yourselves for a rant.

I’m really tired of being accused of being a lazy mother because I medicate my children who have ADHD. I’m really tired of being told I just don’t want to deal with them, so I choose to drug them.

I’m sorry, but no. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a real thing and it’s not always solved with some extra playtime. It is a real psychiatric disorder of the neutrodevelopmental type and is recognized by the DSM-IV. Two of my children have been tested and observed extensively and they are in the clinical range. Their behavior and symptoms are not typical for their age group. Their parents, teachers, and doctor didn’t make up this disorder just because we like drugging children into mindless drooling drones.

Trust me, I wasn’t real thrilled with the thought of my daughter going on medication when she was first diagnosed with ADHD 7 years ago. I was in deep denial. I did not see the behaviors her teacher saw because, her being my first child, her behaviors were normal to me. I thought this was how all six year olds acted. I thought all six year olds could only do their homework for a few minutes at a time before they needed to go run around. I thought all six year olds stole items with little or no value because of impulse control problems. I thought all six year olds lost interest in an activity within minutes. I thought all six year olds had trouble concentrating, daydreamed, were excessively concerned with what others were doing, and had trouble listening and remembering what they were told. I excused her behavior with saying her beloved grandmother just died and so this is why she was distracted in school. I excused it by saying I was pregnant and there many changes in the household with a new baby coming and this is why she acted antsy. It wasn’t until her teacher told me that she missed 80% of what went on in class each day before I got out of my denial and allowed her to be tested for ADHD. And it was even harder to accept that my child was two standard deviations from the typical behavior of six year olds.

Being committed and concerned parents, her father and I immediately scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician. She had us do additional testing just to make sure. That test also came back with her showing signs in the clinical range. She prescribed her a very low dose of an ADHD medicine and waited to see results. We barely saw any and I doubted that my child had what everyone said she had.  Luckily for me at the time I worked with a lot of therapists and child psychologists and I sought their opinions. They pointed me toward a different medication, that is not a stimulant and not addictive, to see if that worked better. She was seven years old and deep into 2nd grade before she finally got on the right medication and her entire world (and our entire world) changed. I’m sure her 2nd grade teacher can tell you the exact day she started medication because she went from a child who literally could not sit down in her chair, so her teacher put her in a spot in the classroom where she could stand beside her desk, to a child her could sit for longer periods of time and concentrate.

adhd download

Do you know what ADHD did to my child in the meantime before we got the right medication figured out? It destroyed her self-esteem. Because she could not focus and concentrate she was way behind her peers in their knowledge. She could barely read a few sight words at the end of 1st grade. She thought she was dumb. Do you know what it’s like to have your 7 year old daughter feel so dumb and worthless she threatens to kill herself? I was lucky I knew therapists and I was able to get her treatment with therapists who taught her behavioral techniques that would help her concentrate and who also helped build her self-esteem. We were lucky to move to a school that had a phenomenal special education teacher who fought for her, with us, to get her into some resource classes so she could catch up with the kids in her grade.

And finally in 7th grade my precious daughter is finally on grade level for reading and I consider it a miracle. I thank my God above that there is a medication out there that helps her focus and concentrate. She is old enough to know the difference between the days she doesn’t take the medication and she prefers to take it because she knows school is easier to deal with when she does. And she is thriving in Junior High in a way I never dreamed possible. She has wonderful grades and has even been on the Honor Roll. She has taken great strides to become more independent and responsible and she is doing so well. Me withholding medication from my daughter for a real psychiatric disorder would be as dumb as my parents withholding asthma medication from me as a child just because they didn’t want to “over medicate their child.”  I don’t think the strides she has made would have been possible without the help of her medication.

I don’t know why we as a society treat illnesses of the brain as imaginary and it’s shameful to treat them when we don’t do that for any other part of the body. If my child had diabetes there is no question that she would be given insulin. If she had asthma like me, there is no way I would deprive her of a rescue inhaler. All my wishing away her ADHD didn’t work and the strides she has made in the last 7 years are because her medication suppresses her ADHD symptoms and allows her to learn.

I’m not saying every child with ADHD needs to be medicated. I’m just say my kids do and I refuse to be ashamed because of it. So, those of you who think you know better than me, the woman who gave birth to my daughter and my son with ADHD; who think they know more than their father who has devoted his life to raising these children; who think you know better than the doctor who has treated them since the first days of their lives; who think you know better than the child psychologists I took my daughter to to learn behavioral techniques to help her cope, I’m here to say, you think you know better BUT YOU DON’T. When it comes to my children and their medication this is a MYOB issue. I have dealt with this for almost a decade. I have spent countless hours reading research and books. I have talked to many therapists. And you? You read ONE article and you think you know more than me about ADHD? Laughable. Keep your uniformed opinions to yourself.

End rant.

To learn what it’s like to be in the mind of a person with ADHD, read this.



6 thoughts on “You think you know better but you don’t

  1. Thank you – there are so many of us in this boat! What people don’t know is that 7% of people ALL OVER THE WORLD have ADHD. It’s not cultural, it’s not a birth defect, it’s a biological difference in their brains. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels get messed up, making it harder to function in many situations. I am so grateful that my son was diagnosed with the help of his kindergarten teacher who stayed connected to us and recognized the changes in him by the time he got to 2nd grade. These kids’ brains work differently and they can often be helped with medication. We don’t stigmatize kids with diabetes whose bodies work better with insulin injections. Time to de-stigmatize ADHD meds!

  2. I have ADD. I was diagnosed first when I was six, and then several more times throughout my childhood. As an adult I was re-diagnosed once again. I spent my entire life avoiding medication because way back in the early 90’s, when I was in first grade, the only medications available were high-dose stimulants that made me feel gross. So my mom slaved away teaching me how to cope, and I did all right without medication. Not great, but all right.

    Fast forward to adulthood with a full-time job, a toddler, and a million responsibilities that threatened to overwhelm me. Knowing I had 30 papers to grade but not being able to focus past the first sentence on the fist paper. Frantically trying to meet deadlines. The harder I tried, the worse it got. My anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior was through the roof. Until I went to a doctor and tried medication.

    I’ve never felt more like myself. I still have ADD, but my brain isn’t controlled my it. Last quarter was the first time in five years of teaching my grades were done on time. I’m a better teacher and a better parent, and my husband is thrilled to be married to a non-spaz. Suddenly I have time to focus on things outside work and parenting. I read books. I sew. I write. Because I can, suddenly. It’s been amazing and I wish I had sought help earlier.

    This long comment is to validate everything you have said. Medication is necessary for some of us, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed.

  3. Thank you so much for this – what’s the med, if I can ask? I’m not sure if I should try it first or feed it to my 15-year-old. There are days we’re at wit’s end and both of us are good at covering.

    1. Right now both of my kids are doing very well on Straterra. My daughter tried Focalin first and it was a disaster. However, my friend’s son is doing great on Focalin. You might have to try a couple to find the right fit. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from doctors and talk to child psychologists and get their take. ADHD manifests itself differently in different people.

      1. Thanks. We tried Adderall and it was terrible; it turned my friendly cheerful boy into an angry aggressive monster. We wrote it off to hormones, I’m ashamed to say, since he was at that age, but once he got off the med he mellowed right out. He just couldn’t focus. He’s doing better now, going into 11th grade, but we still have to work him pretty hard to stay on top of homework and assignments.

      2. I was very hesitant to put my daughter on any type of stimulant because it suppresses the appetite and she has always been so very thin. She sees her pediatrician every 6 months and has consistently grown in height and gained weight. For whatever reason, Straterra has really worked with my daughter and son and we haven’t had to deal with any negative side effects. Meds and body chemistry are really hard to figure out sometimes. I wish you luck!

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