The Worst ADHD Advice I’ve Ever Heard

by Yafa Crane Luria

 

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.”

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2016 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Arla DeField July 11, 2014 at

Very well written.

How about the additional point of putting medication into your body long term can be bad for your health.

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Margit Crane July 11, 2014 at

Tricky decision, for sure Arla

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Judy - Pedagogical Artist July 11, 2014 at

Totally with you sum-up and all: Treatment should be holistic. Medication is the easy way out. Angers me that schools/teachers/the System support this approach. Thank you so much for your blog and for educating people on such an important topic. Oh, and one thing schools need to remember – their clients are KIDS … HUGS <3

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Margit Crane July 11, 2014 at

Thanks for your comment, Judy. Even though it’s illegal for teachers to tell parents that their children might have ADD or ADHD, teachers do it anyway. Some day, someone is gonna sue their buttocks!

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Veronika Specht October 17, 2014 at

While I do agree that some teachers may not be right in telling parents their children have ADHD, I don’t know where I would be today if one of my teachers hadn’t told my parents I had ADHD. His daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD, and when I was taking his class in 6th grade he noticed that I shared many of the characteristics. It was not that I was disruptive, a problem child, or that the teacher didn’t want to deal with me so put me on meds. In fact, even though I was undiagnosed he did everything he could to accommodate me in his classroom without me even realizing it (I found this out later.) Even though my teacher explained very early on in the school year that my parents should get me tested for ADHD, my parents didn’t listen. I was failing almost all of my classes in 7th grade and another teacher told my parents he also had a suspicion I had ADHD before they finally got me tested, and I was officially diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type. Before that teacher, life was a very frustrating struggle for reasons my parents and I couldn’t comprehend. That 6th grade teacher opened my parents eyes to the possibility that something more was going on with me, and I got the help I needed. My doctors and I did decide to go with medication, despite my mom being rather opposed at the time to the idea of medication. I’m not saying it’s the best method, but everyone is different and I know the medication does help me . I realize that not every teacher-telling-parents-child-has-ADHD situation is like mine was, but also not all of these situations are bad or unfounded.

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Margit Crane October 19, 2014 at

That’s a great story, Veronika. You are very lucky to have been diagnosed early. The reason, however, that all situations are “bad” is that it is ILLEGAL for teachers to do this. It is considered diagnosing and teachers are not diagnosticians. That being said, when I was teaching, I would say something like, “Your child stands out as being more (or less) X, Y, Z than the other kids. I would suggest a visit to the doctor, just to rule out anything serious.” Or something like that.

Again, it is ILLEGAL for teachers or any school personnel to diagnose.

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Joan Harrington July 11, 2014 at

Thanks Margit for sharing your awesome post! Shared for you too 🙂

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Margit Crane July 11, 2014 at

Thanks so much, Joan!

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Jackie Ryan Masek July 11, 2014 at

If I had a dollar for every time a mom complained to me that her child still had to be reminded a million times to do something “even though he’s on med now” I would be a billionaire. All meds do is mask the symptoms. My oldest was on Adderall for 5 years. I know that without that I never would have been able to capture his attention long enough to teach him how toanage his brain. There are times when we have considered trying it again but diet and exercise have helped tremendously…for now. The option probably won’t be completely taken off the table if ever. Thank you for your insight!

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Margit Crane July 11, 2014 at

Thanks Jackie. I’m sure your homeschooling helps too. Schools are notorious for not addressing ADHD correctly (said the former teacher and school counselor)

As far as putting one’s children on meds, It’s a family decision and I respect both schools of thought, but if your child is in emotional pain, I think it’s worth TRYING medication. Sure, they’re chemicals, but is it better to have your child in pain while you try to find something else besides meds?

hugs!

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Bethany July 11, 2014 at

Good job Margit!!!

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Margit Crane October 1, 2014 at

Thanks Bethany!

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courtney July 11, 2014 at

Chiropractic is amazing for kiddos that have been diagnosed or labeled with ADHD/ADD! It is natural and helps these kiddos off the meds and function and feel at their optimal level. I see it daily and it is amazing!

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Margit Crane July 11, 2014 at

Yes Courtney – Thanks for your comment. Most of the alternatives work well for some. I like chiropractic but it never helped with my ADHD. I do better with massage for instance. Others will do well with chiropractic but not cranio-sacral. Sill others need meds. They work more efficiently.

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Lynnette July 13, 2014 at

thank you for this article. It was posted by another friend on her FB page. I liked the balanced perspective on options. As a parent of a child with ADD (inattentive/distracted), I know first-hand the process one goes through to find a plan that works. It’s truly not a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to medication vs. non-medication. I believe as a parent, one needs to be open to trying various approaches and even then, that approach needs to be up-dated and changed as the child grows and matures. I’ve been enjoying reading through your other posts as well. I’m thinking I may have to stick around and see what the future holds from your site. 🙂

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Margit Crane July 13, 2014 at

Well said, Lynnette. That is exactly the deal with ADHD. Thanks so much for visiting my site. I hope you will continue to comment.

P.S. Did you get your free copy of “Revolutionize Your ADHD Parenting in One Week?” http://blockedtobrilliant.com/start/ebook/

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Lorraine Banfield July 18, 2014 at

I am working with someone who has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and is currently enrolled in a master’s program to be a special ed teacher. To me this seems like a really bad fit and she has already had problems. I see that you were a teacher. Would you share with me your view on teaching as a profession for someone with AAD/ADHD. The pros and the cons. Thanks, Lorraine

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Margit Crane July 20, 2014 at

Hi Lorraine,
Thanks for your question. Like many things about ADD/ADHD, it really depends on the person. I am very compliant when it comes to paper work (getting grades in, doing attendance, planning) so that was never a problem for me. My drive to be seen in a favorable light countered my dislike of the administrative stuff. I wasn’t good with lesson plans, however, because they made me feel stifled. I had a plan each day but not the detailed plans that admin loves to see. This caused some problems but, only in the beginning.

Special ed is a tough teaching gig because there is SO MUCH paperwork. It’s not just about loving the kids and encouraging them. The paperwork and the extra meetings is pretty daunting. You really have to be on top of things to teach Special Ed.

If your client is already having problems, that’s a sign. Teaching is much harder and much more exhausting that teaching programs are. My first year, I worked 12 hour days almost every day. And every year for my 30 years, I really couldn’t socialize much until Thanksgiving.

Hope this helps. Please let your client know that there is more than one way to change the world. 🙂

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katie at My Sweet Homeschool August 14, 2014 at

This was a great post. I shared it with our community at My Sweet Homeschool.

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Margit Crane August 14, 2014 at

Thanks very much, Katie!

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Veronika Specht October 17, 2014 at

Thank you for this post. I agree that medication isn’t the solution, or always the best ‘solution’ for a child. I especially liked your comment that medication is not a cure. I am very aware that it is not a cure, but have found it a helpful tool in managing my symptoms of ADHD. I’ve been on medication for almost 10 years now, and have tried to come off of it a few times (when I started college, again partway through college, and whenever I forget to order my medication and run out). The main difficulty for me with my “to take medication or to not take medication struggle” is school. When I am working or doing something hands-on I can take no medication or less medication and be fine. The structure of school, however, with studying and classes I need to focus in, etc, is much more difficult for me to manage without my medication, and I haven’t found many behavioral focusing tricks that work for me. Every time I have tried to come off of my medication, the same things happen, such as making small mistakes that add up significantly on exams, forgetting things, and being very frustrated in daily life. I hope/ am fairly confident that when I graduate and am done with school, I will be able to manage my ADHD and life with less or no medication. I do however dislike the stigma put on people for taking medication. As you said, when we get the right fit the whole world opens up to us, and different methods are better for different people.

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