Worst ADHD Advice
I do hope you’ll read through this possibly unpopular post. I am taking a fairly radical stand but don’t jump to conclusions. As a forerunner in ADHD activism, I’ve pretty much seen all of it, heard all of it, and been told all of it. After 34 years in the field, both in schools as a teacher & school counselor, and as an ADHD advocate and family strategist, the worst advice I’ve ever heard is to “put your child on medication.”
I am not at all anti-medication
When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I chose to take medication (Cylert). As an adult, I’m really very fond of what Ritalin does for me (although because of my heart, I can’t take Ritalin). And when medication is working, when it’s the right fit, the whole world can open up to you. It is a remarkable epiphany to finally feel like yourself… the you that you thought you were but couldn’t quite make manifest. So, why, you might ask, is taking medication so horrible?
Ah! Taking medication is not horrible. The problem is that when medication is prescribed we believe that we are now “cured,” that we now have THE Answer, and that is rarely the case.
The pros of medication
I have seen countless medication successes, including my own. First of all, the ADHD brain needs supplementation. That’s a given. There is no question about that. Without supplementation, the body is driven to self-medicate. It needs what it needs and it will seek out the stimulation or the sedation that comforts and calms. The brain has a mind of its own, if you will! Medication offers a chemical solution that can be monitored by an expert (the doctor).
The other reason that medication can be a God-send is that can allow a person to take in new information and new skills in a more efficient manner, without the fog to obscure your thinking and without the clutter than makes it impossible to sort through ideas and prioritize them.
So, what is the problem, Yafa?
The problem is 3-fold:
- Some doctors will medicate without further delving into what else might be going on. There are at least 30 other conditions that look like ADD or ADHD, including poor vision, Irlen syndrome, hearing loss, family stresses, alcoholic or addict relatives, really bad schools or teachers, O.D.D., and many others. We tend to place doctors on a pedestal and we believe that they have vast storehouses of knowledge that they use to heal the world. Some do, some don’t. I actually have a friend whose child was diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication. Turns out he didn’t have ADHD; he has Dysgraphia. A teacher I worked with told me that her son was diagnosed with ADD but he really had – they found out later – Irlen Syndrome.
- No medication teaches skills. Your parenting won’t suddenly transform because your child is on medication. Your child’s struggles will not immediately vanish because of medication. There is a whole self-esteem component to ADHD that needs to be addressed and a sophisticated and fairly subconscious way of looking at the world and your place in it that also needs attention. Medication doesn’t solve those issues. In fact, meds may heighten the issues because kids may feel overly attended to, feeling odd and unacceptable instead of unique and creative.
- I know that the prevailing theories tend to see-saw between ADD and ADHD being a set of behavior challenges or a set of mental challenges. Sometimes both. But this is not how I see ADD/ADHD. To me, ADHD is a way of life, a difference not only of perception and cognition but a completely divergent way to take in, assess, assimilate, and generate information. To put a child on medication and ignore his or her gift of divergence – the possibility that your child can change the world through the development and support of his or her unique giftedness – is to affirm the “disorder” in Attention Deficit Disorder. I know you don’t want to do that. I know that 100%.
Give your child a full treatment plan
Medication can work wonders but it is not the sole solution to a complex web of thoughts and behaviors and judgments that is ADHD.
For children and adults with depression and anxiety, regular counseling is a much-needed addition to a treatment plan.
For others, a good coach who understands the whole ADHD picture should be able to strengthen both your child’s mind, communication style, relationships, all while coaching you to be a coach for your child. And it can be done quickly; it doesn’t have to drag on for months and months.
Also, unless a coach only wants to work with one type of ADHDer, he or she will have different coaching packages to offer based on a family’s individual needs, values, and finances.
Copyright 2016 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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