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pdpele
04-14-2014, 10:58 PM
AnonyMs commented in another thread about this book:

http://time.com/25370/doctor-adhd-does-not-exist/

I've read it and found it really interesting - probably one of the most thought provoking books on ADHD I've come across. I'd love to hear what others think of it, if you've read it, if you might...so I figured I'd bump it to a new thread. I'll post a comment of my own - but I'll need to take a minute to organize it so I don't ramble on!

farrarwilliams
04-15-2014, 08:02 AM
I read a different article earlier this year about the doctor who pioneered ADD/ADHD and the gist of it was that he now believes that only a very small fraction of the diagnoses are correct and that the pharmaceutical industry is driving most diagnoses. I have worked with some kids who are so very classically and severely ADD that it do think it exists... But I've also seen so many kids who have it as a diagnosis where I don't see them as very different from other kids. Basically, I do think it is massively overdiagnosed and medicated...

Epiphany
04-15-2014, 08:08 AM
I have not read the book, but have a feeling that if little man were in ps, they would be pushing this diagnosis on him. To me he is just a very active little guy. He sits and does table work, but often talks through it, and is constantly needing to "fiddle' with something while we are working. He is out of his chair often etc. I am glad that he is learning in a setting where it is one on one and I can just let some of that stuff go. However, in a classroom, I am sure that it would not be tolerated.

Deli76
04-15-2014, 09:57 AM
I don't believe in ADD/ADHD. Kids are naturally active and the youngest naturally have an attention span of 5 min or less because their brains are taking in so much and learning at a very fast pace. It makes no sense to sedate a child. I remember my mother had the doc put my little brother on rittilin (sp?) and he changed. It was the weirdest thing. As soon as we started our summer visit with my dad...he poured them all down the toilet. His customers ( physicians and psychologists) told him that stuff was bad news and it literally changed the composition of the brain. They were telling how addictive it was and how kids were becoming more psychotic and needed more meds to counter act the rittilin. And this was in the early 90's. And it just makes me so mad and sad to see these poor children on more and more meds because they think an active healthy child is "abnormal". I agree, there are some that are just a lot more active, but it just does not justify medicating and sedating children. But that is just my opinion.

MrsLOLcat
04-15-2014, 11:01 AM
There's 'active child' and then there really is ADHD. My son cannot retain information, basically cannot learn, if he's left to his own devices and unmedicated. He's creative, yes, but he can't sit down and actually DO anything because five minutes in, his brain has moved on and he's forgotten what he was originally doing and can't focus. If he was in school and unmedicated, he would have been labeled #1: ADHD and #2: delayed in certain subjects because of his inability to retain information. By putting him on a nonstimulant, he's able to learn. He's able to progress. HE feels better about himself, and we don't have the struggles and periods of depression where he feels stupid and useless. Sure, he still struggles, and I know that I 'undermedicate' by public school standards, but by doing that, I like to think that he is able to learn to control his own impulses, bit by bit. It's hard sometimes. REALLY hard. I would love to not have him on meds, but I've tried it multiple times, and while he does okay for a little bit, maybe a couple of months, then it's like living a nightmare. Nobody should have to live a nightmare in their own brain...

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
04-15-2014, 11:30 AM
What Sarah said.... times 100.

ADHD goes waaaay beyond being "active" or "wriggly" or having a short attention span. It means that the brain is so overwhelmed by stimulation that sustained focus, impulse control, and even emotional control become very difficult. The problems aren't caused by unreasonable or inappropriate classroom expectations. They aren't cause by lax discipline or the wrong foods or lack of exercise. It's just the way they're wired and it is truly debilitating for some kids (like mine). Believe me, we tried the no meds route and it didn't work. My son had to leave a homeschooling group, almost got kicked out of his extra curricular activities, and couldn't even do the shortest and simplest assignment (even with me sitting beside him and leading him through every step). It was, as Sarah said, a nightmare that took its toll on the entire family. How do you think a kid feels when he's constantly failing at things and is seeing the people who love him frustrated and upset?

This is not directed at you, OP, but to the doubters who have not lived with someone with ADHD.

MNDad
04-15-2014, 11:52 AM
I think that the "ADHD is real" vs. "ADHD is not real" distinction is obsessing about the wrong question. If a child exhibits behaviors that satisfy the diagnostic menu list for the disorder, he or she has the disorder as it's defined. That says absolutely nothing about the cause, the pathophysiology, the appropriateness of medications, etc. Only that the child meets the diagnostic criteria.

I also don't completely fault the pharmaceutical industry for driving the ubiquity of the diagnosis. If over-diagnosis and over-medication exist (it probably does), the problem is multifactorial.

Personally, I think there needs to be much more rigor in how well and how objectively kids on medications are evaluated. When I was practicing, I'd see people on these meds, and have no way of evaluating in an objective fashion whether they should be continued, because nothing was being tracked. We have to do a better job of making the benefits of these medications measurable in some way so that we can do a better job of assessing the tradeoffs (in terms of adverse effects; and there are always tradeoffs.)

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
04-15-2014, 12:30 PM
Personally, I think there needs to be much more rigor in how well and how objectively kids on medications are evaluated. When I was practicing, I'd see people on these meds, and have no way of evaluating in an objective fashion whether they should be continued, because nothing was being tracked. We have to do a better job of making the benefits of these medications measurable in some way so that we can do a better job of assessing the tradeoffs (in terms of adverse effects; and there are always tradeoffs.)

I've always been curious how kids who are misdiagnosed are benefiting from medications. Is it really helping them? I think people have misconceptions about how the medications affect kids--they're not turned into catatonic, submissive zombies. My son is chatty, active, and happy when he's on his meds (my only experience is with stimulants). He's also calmer and able to follow directions better. I wonder if stimulant meds have the same effect on someone who doesn't really have ADHD.

My son's pediatrician sits down with us a couple of times a year to discuss dosage and managing side effects (weight loss, difficulty sleeping, etc.). She really relies on my observations, so I'm not sure if that is what you would call a rigorous or objective system for making decisions about medications. :)

MNDad
04-15-2014, 01:24 PM
I may have a somewhat skewed view because the cases I consulted on were usually young adults where I could simply not tell whether stimulant meds were helping, harming, neither, or both.

It sounds like you have a great pediatrician.

MrsLOLcat
04-15-2014, 01:29 PM
I read something recently that said that kids without ADHD actually did do better on standardized tests (so take THAT for whatever it's worth) than unmedicated peers because it did improve memory, focus, etc. for much the same reason that some folks who take meth and other illegal stimulants find that focus and attention improve while the drugs are in their system. They do work for most everyone; some people simply need them to function. I wish I could remember where I read that; I think it was in a book, but don't hold me to it. I'll see if I can recall and find a link.

Anyway, I agree with AMM about what it does to a truly ADHD child. Right now my son is downstairs fixing lunch for me, his sister, and himself. He's delighted to be able to help. If he forgets his meds for a day or two, he would be running amok and lunch - especially for anyone else - would be the furthest thing from his mind. I keep hoping - truly do - that they can figure out a neurological exam or some objective way to diagnose ADHD and/or figure out a root cause. That was one of the reasons I had genetic testing done for DS a month or so ago - I was hoping to find a cause for his ASD, ADHD and other issues. Frustratingly (but positively?) the panel came back clear. But I keep hoping, because I would have DS in there in a heartbeat.

pdpele
04-15-2014, 01:42 PM
AMM, MNDad and MrsLOLCat, I'm with you all about the "real" ness of ADHD. The side effects of not having my ds on meds would be huge - for him and for everyone else that cares about and spends time with him. (We found a non-stim that helps him - doesn't do enough for the focus/attention, but makes a big difference and avoids the adverse side effects he got from the stim med trials).

But here's what I found interesting about the book (the article just sort of touches on his main arguments):

He says ADHD does not exist, but what he means (the title is meant to be attention grabbing) is that what we call ADHD is just a group of similar signs/symptoms/resulting troublesome behavior. And kids/adults with those signs and symptoms likely have many different causes for them. He thinks we should be looking for root causes of those particular symptoms. His list of "real" underlying causes (some of which are also complex and multi-causal and not completely understood) is long and varied:

vision problems
hearing problems
sensory processing issues
asperger's/autism
learning disabilities
giftedness
OCD
bipolar disorder

And so forth. There's a lot more.
He does not say don't medicate. It's not an anti-medication book. He says go down a list of common causes for the displayed symptoms more systematically and medicate where needed, but not indiscriminately.

I think this part is dead on and I wish there were more practitioners willing to take the time, read the research and work on ruling out systematically a list of common or likely (b/c of patient hx/family hx/etc.) root causes with every new patient.

So here's where I'm puzzled/not fully convinced. I'm not sure his list addresses every ADHD kid. The ones who've always had the impulsivity/inattention/hyperactivity/lack of emotional control (for their age).
That would be my DS. Does his list cover all those kids too? IDK...If it doesn't then what are we left with if not "ADHD"?

He also doesn't even address some of the good, recent research on ADHD that shows that kids with that label have different brain scans in common that are different than "normal" kids. Or the many observations of ADHD kids that seem to "grow out" of it, suggesting (combined with the brain studies research) that for some this might be a developmental delay (maybe also permanent disability) in the brain areas (prefrontal/frontal cortex) that are involved in attention, processing, impulse control, emotional control, so called "executive functioning".

The first time I read the brain scan research news article it made me laugh out loud. ADHD kids' brains are under-developed in impulse control and over-developed (or advanced) compared with their age peers in motor coordination. That explains a lot! DS scaled our 8-foot block wall at 4 (with the help of a grill that we had to find a new home for). He had incredible "gross motor" skills and practically zero impulse control. He was more than 5 yo before I could walk across a parking lot without a death grip on his hand. I still have to remind him to look where he's going/watch for cars.

So I think his book is awesome for bringing up the possibility that there is a lot more going on than we know with reasons for the ADD/ADHD symptoms. And for insisting that we can chip away at it and do a better job of helping kids with these issues. And help some kids avoid unneeded meds with big time adverse effects.

But it leaves me with a lot more questions...no one has answered why we've seen such a rise in ADHD (overdiagnosed or not)/autism. His book doesn't either....

Ok - this is long. I must confess, I have interests in "science studies" - sociologists/anthro/geographers with this interest study the social/cultural/institutional factors that influence science/medicine research and practices. ADHD/Autism is a big interest area. And like a lot of y'all I've got a huge interest in helping my own DS make his way in the world successfully despite these difficulties (which do come with great bonus aspects as well - I wouldn't want to medicate away ds' joy, enthusiasm, energy, or his ability to make creative and interesting connections).

pdpele
04-15-2014, 01:52 PM
MrsLOLCat - that is really interesting that your DS' genetic panel thing came back 'clear'....lol at the lunch example. Totally. I've read that too about the stim working for everyone - it's not a "trial" and if it works they do have ADHD. I took DS med once so I'd have a clue how he might feel on it. It was the first stim we tried Adderall (sp? I hated it..But I could definitely see that I was 100 times more "focused".

fastweedpuller
04-15-2014, 02:06 PM
It's real.

There is a spectrum, and each kid goes through the spectrum (i.e., it is more intense at different times than others).

I liken it to my brother's (very real, very life-altering) autism. At 47 he's still got the tendencies/tics...he has had a lot of time to live with them, though, to be able to manage them (or not, depending on the day). We did not have the diagnosis/training/resources for him when he was a child that a child on the autism spectrum has today.

But today we DO have the understanding of autism AND of ADHD, and your average person has an understanding that these, at base, are neurological conditions and something CAN be done about them, should symptoms be getting in the way of a full life or between a child and learning to his or her potential. In 1970 this was not the case. It's 2014, so...we should do what we can.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
04-15-2014, 02:07 PM
Do you have my kid, pdpele? :D

My son also has a few characteristics of Aspergers and SPD, and would probably test as gifted. The lines are so blurry that it discourages me from trying to get a diagnosis. I'd almost rather deal with the individual behaviors/issues and not worry about what to call them all together.

murphs_mom
04-15-2014, 02:36 PM
My son is chatty, active, and happy when he's on his meds (my only experience is with stimulants). He's also calmer and able to follow directions better. I wonder if stimulant meds have the same effect on someone who doesn't really have ADHD.

After my mother's stroke, she was having a hard time speaking without slurring her words (think 'incredibly drunk' sounding individual), and her doctor prescribed Ritalin. We all pshawed it and laughed, but after just a couple of days of being on the Ritalin and then adjusting her dosage down (she was having trouble w/sleep) it was amazing how clear her speech was and how alert she was. It's been 2yr since the stroke, and I can tell 95% of the time when she's either too tired or missed her Ritalin. She sounds slurry and groggy. She has never had ADD/ADHD or anything close to it, so the Ritalin may be primarily affecting the parts of her brain that were affected by the stroke? IDK for sure. The clot was in the base of the basal ganglia, and they were able to remove most of it, but a tiny part couldn't be reached. Just based on personal observation, the Ritalin seems to be speeding up my mother's processing which leads to clarity.

Can't say that ADHD doesn't/does exist, but I can say that I've worked with a couple of kids and knew a couple of individuals who had 'something'. To say that they were constantly pinging off the walls would be an understatement. OTOH, I can say that I fully believe the ADHD/ADD thing is greatly over-diagnosed. Pure opinion. When DD had her eval done at KKI, one of the evaluators tried to stick an ADHD label on her, and we completely disagreed with it. Yeah, she's wired and bouncing around, but she'll knock it off 99% of the time if I tell her to. An ADHD individual can't 'just stop'. She can. When I pointed out to the evaluator that my Kindergarten teacher noted on my report card 400yr ago that I had a hard time sitting still and focusing but that I was able to self-correct by the end of the year, the evaluator tried to pin an ADHD label on me. DH thought that was hysterical.

I hate to say it, but IMO, I think ADHD and ASD are both greatly over-diagnosed. I was watching "The Bad News Bears" on the TV a couple of weeks ago; it was made in 1976. As I watched the kids in the movie, it made me sad because I could label just about every one of them with something. Back then, kids were 'just being kids' if they were hyper, chatty, nerdy, quirky, or whatever. No official diagnosis required. Now, everyone wants to stick a label on these kids and stuff them full of pills or stick them in therapy. It's depressing.

atomicgirl
04-15-2014, 02:41 PM
I have two kids, and both have been diagnosed with ADHD. One has also been identified with AS/ASD, giftedness, sensory-processing disorder, and anxiety disorder-nos (all except the giftedness likely due to brain trauma secondary to an underlying medical condition). She needs meds. If you met her when she was just getting up and ready for breakfast, before medicine, and then again 3 hours later you'd be shocked to be told that you'd just met the same girl twice. Barely functional vs. bright, curious and engaged. I have no question that she needs the medicine she takes, and that it greatly improves her quality of life.

My son, on the other hand, only received his diagnosis because I consulted my daughter's therapist after multiple reports about his school behavior and lack of focus. He is of the classically over-diagnosed population: bright, energetic, male, 6. He's also a predominantly visual-spatial learner. I refused to give him medication because helping him learn some behavioral control, and changing his learning environment was all we needed to improve his access to grade level material (well, above grade level material outside of his old classroom) and let him make friends and feel socially competent.

My thoughts on the situation outlined in the article are:
(1) Just because it's over-diagnosed doesn't mean it's not a real disorder
(2) Our public education system that caters primarily to a single style of learning, and most highly values quiet, calm, compliant learners, created the culture of over-diagnosis for which parents take the blame. When my son was in school the teacher, principal and other parents from the class all pressured me (and 2 other families of young boys) to "do something" and "talk to his doctor". The message was clear: A good parent, and a good member of that community would medicate my son and the other boys.

Solong
04-15-2014, 04:42 PM
I'm just starting to work my way through the alphabet books at the library. It was a really valuable read for me (a newbie to adhd), and I appreciated that his bias was revealed right in the title.

Overall, I found his tone to be very overly-simplistic and condescending. Nonetheless, he very clearly lays out some of the diagnostics that parents can and should ask for - great information.
It has taken me down the rabbit hole that is the paediatric DSM: who wrote it, how it was written, etc. I feel like this all helps to make me a better advocate for my child.

Otoh, I hate to think that one book could potentially provide just enough mis-information to prejudice an under-informed population against adhd diagnoses. I have a friend that is constantly bemoaning her grown son's need for medication. I finally asked her to stop talking about it - "If he was diabetic, would you ask him to 'wean off' insulin?!"

As to the increase in diagnoses of adhd: I'd like to hear more on this too, pdpele. I personally think that schools are overcrowded/underfunded, and we are asking teachers to do the impossible. The whole sahm job being the hardest job argument- I disagree. I'd rather be a sahm than a public school teacher any damn day. I also feel that society in general is suffering from pathalogical patience-deficiency.

Crabby Lioness
04-15-2014, 05:12 PM
The school wanted my sister diagnosed ADHD in the mid-1970s. She was a completely normal kid. My parents refused. She's never been in any trouble, and she's been a paralegal for decades.

rebjc
04-15-2014, 06:22 PM
It is real. But the causes to the behavior that leads to an adhd diagnosis are different. Helping a person with this diagnosis cope depends on the cause. Medication helps for some, but not for all. I would hope that alternative methods of treatment would be explored before medicating. The side effects of stimulants concerns me, too. We have been pushed to medicate, but I refuse to do so until my kids are at least 6 years old. I haven't ruled it out since I don't want them to be impaired from functioning in society, and if medication will help them function with day to day tasks that are easy for the general population to concentrate on then I owe it to them to keep my mind open to the possibility.

For those who don't think it's real, come to my house for a day. My 4 1/2 yo twins have it so badly that the psychologist who did their evaluation was convinced they would qualify for disability benefits because of severity of it with them. It is not a matter of not being able to sit for 5 minutes. They can't focus on a task for more than a minute without something inevitably distracting them. They also have a special need which almost always comes with a diagnosis of adhd, so it's not like it's too early to diagnose since almost every girl with their disability has adhd.

We have strategies in place for them to learn and thrive. And they are happy, so I see no point in medicating them this young. A four year old doesn't need to be sitting still. They can just play. They do well with one on one instruction, albeit in a very squirmy, wormy way ;), and this why homeschooling is such a good fit for them right now. They would not be able to function all day in a public school setting. Without a doubt, they would have to be medicated. I am happy that homeschooling allows us to keep them unmedicated for now. But as they age and if their attention does not improve, we may have to consider medicating.

Our son has the diagnosis and I am not convinced he actually has it. He has later been diagnosed with spd, and I think that is causing more of the adhd behaviors than adhd. But we have been doing neurofeedback therapy, and the therapist said his brainwave patterns were indicative of someone with adhd since he had the slow wave brain movements. But the the therapy has helped his brain "wake up" and his brain waves are more quick now. She also said he has signs that he has some anxiety which I think is another cause to adhd like behavior. But the neurofeedback therapy has improved his attention exponentially, and I wish that health insurance covered it. They are so quick to cover stimulants but don't cover this therapy that is recommended by the apa for treatment of adhd.

farrarwilliams
04-15-2014, 09:30 PM
One of the ways to look at this question for me is through the idea that by creating a diagnosis, you also create the people who have it. If something doesn't have a name, then it doesn't exist in a way. Before the 70's, ADHD really didn't exist at all because no one had given it any name - not any name that didn't normalize it as routine kid behavior. I think you can come at it thinking that by naming it, we've helped all these people who struggled before, who needed more support but couldn't get it. Or you can think that by naming it, we've made it "other," made people expect better (perhaps unrealistic) focus from their kids, made them less able to support kids with this behavior without marginalizing them as "having ADD." And while I would never say it doesn't exist... I do think there's a lot to the latter view that pathologizing distractability and hyperactivity and hyper-focus has made it harder for us to see as simply normal and harder for us to accept and more likely for us to "need" medication for it. Which, again, is not to say that medication can't help some people, but there are a lot of kids out there who display that behavior who really shouldn't be on medications.

atomicgirl
04-15-2014, 10:57 PM
As far as interesting thoughts on ADHD I enjoyed reading Thom Harmann's book "The Edison Gene" (http://www.amazon.com/The-Edison-Gene-Hunter-Child/dp/1594770492/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_z) I'm not sure how much of it I really believe, but it helped me embrace the idea of different-not-deficient when trying to work with some behaviors that I found frustrating.

Keiran'sMom
04-16-2014, 08:50 AM
My sister and stepmom have it, it is real. My sister needs her medicine, but it is hard on her body. She is always going to the doctor to check her weight and other things. That said whenever they suggest my boy needs it, I don't see it. He can focus on something like a dog with bone if it interests him. If it does not interest him, then we pretty much move on. I consider this pretty normal. I do not want to sit and labor over something I hate. I get it done and move on quickly. Yes he is active, runs around, fidgets, likes to stand up to do his work, but he will also sit down when he needs to. I do not seem the same behavoris in my son as my sister had when she was his age. My stepmom told me she used to have problems sleeping because her brain would not shut off, so she would get up and clean her room, draw, or some other activity to try and stop her brain from going. There was no ADD/ADHD back then.
My half brother does not have it, my son is probably closest in behavoir to him. He is the navy right now and is thriving. He began to calm his energy level down around middle and high school because of sports. I guess my point is that I am one of the believers it is over diagnosed by teachers and parents who don't want to deal with certain "normal" behaviours. There are doctors out there who do not do good exams and just take the parents or schools word for it because they don't see the child outside of the office. There are probably many who would not even know the right questions to ask to do a good exam.
I would love to see more info on how the medicines work in kids who do not have it. I read an article recently on flip board about the over "drugging" of our boys for the sake of standardized testing. It was more of an opinion thing and did not have any hard facts in it other than number of kids prescribed these meds. it presented the drugs as mind-altering and dangerous, of course that is what the writer wanted you believe. They claimed they were/are destroying out kids minds and hurting them. While I am not familiar with the meds in question, other than what my sister takes, I wondered about the accuracy of his statement.
I do not believe in giving meds that are not needed to my boy but I do believe there are people who need them. I would be interested to see some studies on the long term use of these drugs and if they really do have some dangerous side effects. It would be a good way for parents to be able to make more informed choices.

MrsLOLcat
04-16-2014, 10:52 AM
MrsLOLCat - that is really interesting that your DS' genetic panel thing came back 'clear'...

To be fair, we weren't testing specifically for something for ADHD. What we were testing for had more to do with his ASD symptoms and/or familial issues (Marfan's), BUT those things could have affected his attention and caused other issues. I was just oddly hoping to have found a definitive answer and therefore a potential treatment. I'm really GLAD he doesn't have Marfan's or any of the other issues we were looking for, but it's kind of frustrating, too. The geneticist wants us to come back and see about more testing for some polydactyly syndromes, because some of those may be relevant, but I'm kind of waiting on the bill for this test to come in before we go back :/

RachelC
04-16-2014, 09:44 PM
And yes, the drugs usually prescribed for ADD and ADHD help anyone who takes them to focus. College students found this out and have been using them to help study for finals. In that way, they are similar (IMO) to anabolic steroids. These steroids can help anyone gain muscle mass; you don't have to have a need/disorder for them to work. So what I'm saying is that just because they have what is considered a positive effect, that doesn't mean they were necessary in the first place.

farrarwilliams
04-17-2014, 09:07 AM
Yeah... I really wonder how negative the long term effects of many of these drugs are and to what extent they're making it harder for people to develop needed coping strategies without them. I also have to admit that while, again, I think a few people need the meds, I don't really trust the self reporting of who needs it because nearly everyone will say they do. Statistically speaking, I don't really believe that.

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:05 AM
Do you have my kid, pdpele? :D

I think so! And here I thought my DS was one of a kind.


I'd almost rather deal with the individual behaviors/issues and not worry about what to call them all together.

I think this is a better way to go about it, too. But it is hard to not look for something that explains it all and (hopefully) promises more effective treatment/strategies.

I think Saul's book leads to thinking more like this. And that's the point, maybe, of setting aside the ADHD label in favor of looking for more precise causes for issues.

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:08 AM
What we were testing for had more to do with his ASD symptoms and/or familial issues (Marfan's), BUT those things could have affected his attention and caused other issues. I was just oddly hoping to have found a definitive answer and therefore a potential treatment. I'm really GLAD he doesn't have Marfan's or any of the other issues we were looking for, but it's kind of frustrating, too.

Not an odd hope! But, yeah, glad you were able to rule out other not fun stuff, too.

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:10 AM
New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, Debate (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/health/idea-of-new-attention-disorder-spurs-research-and-debate.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=1&assetType=nyt_now?utm_hp_ref=parents&ir=Parents). It is impossible to trust pharmacriminals. Your kid doesn't have ADHD? Then, step right up for a 'sluggish cognitive tempo' diagnosis! Anybody else reminded of Sylvester McMonkey McBean?

Saw this a short time ago, and I guess I glazed over it with a sigh...Who is Sylvester McBean?

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:18 AM
I have two kids, and both have been diagnosed with ADHD. One has also been identified with AS/ASD, giftedness, sensory-processing disorder, and anxiety disorder-nos (all except the giftedness likely due to brain trauma secondary to an underlying medical condition). She needs meds. If you met her when she was just getting up and ready for breakfast, before medicine, and then again 3 hours later you'd be shocked to be told that you'd just met the same girl twice. Barely functional vs. bright, curious and engaged. I have no question that she needs the medicine she takes, and that it greatly improves her quality of life.

My son, on the other hand, only received his diagnosis because I consulted my daughter's therapist after multiple reports about his school behavior and lack of focus. He is of the classically over-diagnosed population: bright, energetic, male, 6. He's also a predominantly visual-spatial learner. I refused to give him medication because helping him learn some behavioral control, and changing his learning environment was all we needed to improve his access to grade level material (well, above grade level material outside of his old classroom) and let him make friends and feel socially competent.

My thoughts on the situation outlined in the article are:
(1) Just because it's over-diagnosed doesn't mean it's not a real disorder
(2) Our public education system that caters primarily to a single style of learning, and most highly values quiet, calm, compliant learners, created the culture of over-diagnosis for which parents take the blame. When my son was in school the teacher, principal and other parents from the class all pressured me (and 2 other families of young boys) to "do something" and "talk to his doctor". The message was clear: A good parent, and a good member of that community would medicate my son and the other boys.

Wow, Atomicgirl, this and other people's stories of kids that only run into issues when sent to school make me so sad. I mean, even the ADHD checklist (which Saul and other people complain about being way too broad and vague) says that the "dysfunction" should be happening in at least two major life areas - like school and home. I mean, here you are homeschooling in part due to this (I'm assuming), but how many others can't/don't and end up starting on meds? Well - I guess most - given the explosion in meds that we are all talking about...

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:24 AM
After my mother's stroke, she was having a hard time speaking without slurring her words (think 'incredibly drunk' sounding individual), and her doctor prescribed Ritalin. We all pshawed it and laughed, but after just a couple of days of being on the Ritalin and then adjusting her dosage down (she was having trouble w/sleep) it was amazing how clear her speech was and how alert she was. It's been 2yr since the stroke, and I can tell 95% of the time when she's either too tired or missed her Ritalin. She sounds slurry and groggy. She has never had ADD/ADHD or anything close to it, so the Ritalin may be primarily affecting the parts of her brain that were affected by the stroke? IDK for sure. The clot was in the base of the basal ganglia, and they were able to remove most of it, but a tiny part couldn't be reached. Just based on personal observation, the Ritalin seems to be speeding up my mother's processing which leads to clarity.

Wow, that's interesting...glad your mom made it through the stroke...


When I pointed out to the evaluator that my Kindergarten teacher noted on my report card 400yr ago that I had a hard time sitting still and focusing but that I was able to self-correct by the end of the year, the evaluator tried to pin an ADHD label on me. DH thought that was hysterical.

Goodness sakes.

pdpele
04-17-2014, 10:43 AM
Sorry, folks, I have yet to figure out how to quote multiple comments in one reply!

I think it's interesting that our collective thoughts here have kind of reproduced the whole debate about ADHD:

1. Yes, the problems are real, and some people/kids really benefit from the meds.

2. Lots of kids likely just need adults to have more tolerance for kid behavior and probably changes in the way kids live and are raised are the real problem for many diagnosed kids: Less active, outdoor, unstructured time; more 'academics' in school, etc.
(This is a big problem, without an easy answer - I'd love to send my DS outside to play all day, but there's no pack of kids for him to run around with! My kid was in Kinder and only had 1 outside recess time in a 7 hour day. And the teach wanted to take that away as a discipline tool. Put a stop to that quick, but still. When I went to elementary we had 2 recesses a day through 6th grade. And 3 a day 3 times a week through 4th. Also, the playground area was huge - play equipment, basketball court, tether balls, a big hill and treed area to chase around and run up and down, etc. Not just a small little plastic play area.)

3. Maybe there's more/other stuff going on that the label ADHD plus med and (sometimes) behavioral therapy/school accommodations isn't addressing and parents/docs should first go down a list of other possible causes for the signs/symptoms that are troublesome.

But while all this is important, and clearly the world for kids would be a better place if we were the ones in charge, I'm still hoping for more better answers to: 1. why the increase (still) in "real" ADHD-Autism-like-SPD-type kids/problems? 2. what if you go down Saul's list and are still left with ADHD - type behaviors that are unexplained?

Oh well. Off to go have fun with my little bouncy boy. And feeling extra grateful today that we can arrange our lives to save him from school.

BakedAk
04-17-2014, 11:45 AM
But it is hard to not look for something that explains it all and (hopefully) promises more effective treatment/strategies.


This is exactly true. I want there to be a pill to fix whatever the problem is. (Actually, Valium for DH might do the trick...)

For those people with a genuine medical need for some kind of treatment (anxiety, depression, AD/HD, whatever), if my experience is any indication, it's a lot harder to get help that is not pharmaceutical. Insurance is not as generous for counseling (at least my insurance) as it is for medication. Alternative or natural therapies are hardly covered at all. Yes, I'd like to learn "effective strategies for dealing with problematic behaviors" (my own included), but when do I do that? Doctors offices are rarely set up with waiting areas designed for young homeschool kids, and office staff should not have to be babysitters. As an older, secular homeschooling mom, living thousands of miles from family, I am isolated enough that arranging childcare for clinical visits is difficult. None of this is to say that medication for Boy or myself is the answer, but if the problem is a lack of focus or "executive skills" like working memory, organization, task initiation and goal directed persistence, staying on task long enough to research and try out multiple possible solutions is about as likely as me actually having all the dishes and all the laundry done at one time (or anyone reading to the end of this awfully long sentence and rambling post!).

rebjc
04-17-2014, 04:14 PM
Absolutely the lack of insurance coverage for non pharm treatments is a huge issue. We are paying about 800/month for therapies to treat ADHD/anxiety for one kiddo right now, but the neuro feedback is not designed to be a life long therapy and should be done within the year. Not many people are fortunate to have extra money to pay for therapies out of pocket, and even with our decent income it is a stretch for us. The thing is some parents are wiling to shell out that kind of cash for braces but won't consider it for therapy. I think the brain is more important than teeth. :)

pdpele
04-18-2014, 10:55 AM
Dr. Seuss! I'll have to check that one out.

MrsLOLcat
04-19-2014, 04:56 PM
I think Melissa nailed another good point, that our society is extremely harsh on anything outside of a very, very narrow spectrum of 'normal.' Cases of ADHD, autism, etc. are on the rise not only because of a system that is better able to recognize them but also because of a system that wants to put everyone into a very narrow chute. It's all very Gattaca sometimes. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to take DS in to a facility that uses alternative therapies. But it's horrendously expensive, and insurance for it? Not happening. So I buy the books and try to do the therapies at home the best I can, but sometimes there's just no way to work around what needs to happen vs. what can. My goal - fingers and toes crossed - is that one day DS will be able to cope without medication. It's a vague, fuzzy, weak hope, but it's a hope. One day he'll develop some executive function skills of his own, right?? *le sigh*

There's another school of thought out there that has to do with epigenetics and the potential that those have for causing the rise in ADHD/ASD cases, but I'll let someone more educated speak on that. I only know the very vaguest of details and understand it only in the most layman-like terms.

Oceanseve
04-20-2014, 12:23 PM
I read something recently that said that kids without ADHD actually did do better on standardized tests (so take THAT for whatever it's worth) than unmedicated peers because it did improve memory, focus, etc. for much the same reason that some folks who take meth and other illegal stimulants find that focus and attention improve while the drugs are in their system. They do work for most everyone; some people simply need them to function. I wish I could remember where I read that; I think it was in a book, but don't hold me to it. I'll see if I can recall and find a link.

I read an article last year (One of the tv stations ran a piece on it to) where lower income schools were encouraging parents to get their kids on adhd meds to up the test numbers. Some of the parents were basically saying, "We're low income. The only way this kid is going to get into college is with good grades and this accomplishes that."

kadylaha
06-23-2014, 04:49 PM
I also do not believe ADHD exists, except as an excuse for Big Pharma to make money.

CrazyGooseLady
02-14-2016, 11:34 PM
My son was diagnosed with ADHD. At the same time as his diagnosis, he also started vision therapy because he couldn't get his eyes to focus on the same letter and he was seeing in double vision. If he moved, he saw one of things...so he moved....a LOT.

The vision therapy helped his reading immensely. The strange thing was that it also helped a lot of his sensory seeking behaviors and his movement. He could see...so he didn't need to move. He also didn't need to touch everyone and everything, didn't need to put everything in his mouth, didn't need to spin for an hour on the swing.

But...he still gets distracted. We deal with it. He is much more ADD now than ADHD. He does white noise generators and things like that to help him keep focused. He just can NOT NOT attend to everything that his happening around him. Last year he was in a room with other kids and couldn't do the work when the teacher was working with the other kids...he HAD to listen in. He finally asked the teacher if he could work in the hall. The teacher thought that was a horrible thing, but agreed. I thought it was a great thing that my son recognized that was what he needed. That was when we started the white noise.

And I totally explain to people that because one sense was out of whack that it effected the others and his movement. I totally get how that can happen with other kids too. Time needs to be spent trying to find those other things. The doctor who diagnosed my son with ADHD did not "believe in" vision therapy....but it made a huge difference for him.

At some point, my son may need meds, but he will need to go through the diagnosis process again. ADHD is real, but yes, other causes DO need to be ruled out too. The doctor who diagnosed my son needs to believe in other causes of symptoms just as much as he believes in ADHD though too.