I was recently on Facebook when I came across an article that really pissed me off. The writer was explaining why he believes that ADD/ADHD, and Autism are fake diagnosis’s created to make pharmaceutical companies money. This article had no scientific data to back up it’s claims and yet there was one comment after another talking about how right it was. One guy even said that parents who claim they have kids with ADHD are just too lazy to teach their kids right from wrong and that parents who claim they have kids with Autism just want attention.
Are you kidding me? There are really people who think this way?
My oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten. Since then I thought I had heard every mean and uneducated thing that people could say. I can list about 100 reasons people have given me for why he has ADHD. I’ve been told that everything from red food coloring to vaccines and the epidural I didn’t have before his emergency C-section are to blame. This is the very first time I’ve heard that it’s a figment of my imagination.
I don’t blame people for being skeptical. I didn’t believe his diagnosis when I first heard it. To me I thought all of his symptoms were just things that normal boys did. You know the whole “bys will be boys” saying. He was having trouble in Kindergarten and they brought in a school psychologist. The school psychologist said he had a very severe case of ADHD and I decided to take him to his pediatrician for a second opinion. Our pediatrician was able to prove to me that ADHD was real by giving my 5 year old a Red Bull. I know that sounds insane, but instead of making him bounce off the walls caffeine actually makes my son really calm and tired.
At first we attempted to control his ADHD with medication. We tried Ritalin, Adderall, and Focalin before deciding the medication route wasn’t for us. He didn’t like how the medications made him feel and he had too many adverse side effects. So for five years I have been helping my son battle ADHD without medication and I promise you that takes someone who is the very opposite of a lazy parent!
The very first thing we had to do was become extremely educated on exactly what ADHD is. The majority of people really don’t understand this diagnosis. For the longest time we would have to remind my son things like “ADHD makes it hard for you to focus on your math lesson but ADHD does not make you cut Suzie’s pigtail with your scissors.” There are way too many adults who think ADHD is to blame for a child’s deviant behavior. Kids with ADHD are hyperactive, they have issues with attention span and impulse control but they are not naturally juvenile delinquents. If you let a kid think they have an excuse to behave badly they will run with it and my son did until I learned to call him on it and make all the other adults in his life call him on it as well. He is now very educated on his own diagnosis and what he has to do to overcome it.
We use many different behavior modification techniques. My son needs to be given structure, lists, time limits, and very short specific instructions. He has learned to identify when he is starting to loose focus and has been taught ways to get himself back on track. We include a lot of physical activity into our normal daily routines to help him with being hyperactive. It is not strange in my house to see kids drop down and start doing pushups because it helps my oldest with his ADHD and my youngest is super competitive and just thinks its fun.
School was a struggle at first. His original elementary school did not agree with our choice to take him off his medications and did not have the programs to help us with his behavioral modification needs. We spent countless hours working on basic skills, held him back a grade, paid for more tutors than we could really afford, and bought an expensive house next to a national award winning school with a really good ADHD behavior modification program to get him caught up academically. For the most part the actions we took are working he is finally testing at grade level in the majority of his subjects.
The problem is most kids with ADHD don’t have parents with multiple college degrees who can spend the time educating themselves and researching proven methods that work. Most parents can’t just buy a house next to the best school in the state because they want their kid to succeed. This is where articles like the one I read today are so damaging. The article and the way these people believe won’t hurt my son’s success because he is surrounded by adults who have already bought into the idea that ADHD is real and have also taken the time to find what methods work best for my son. He has a learning and behavior plan in action that are working. Articles like the one I read today will hurt the kids who still live in our old neighborhood or ones like it and kids in schools that don’t have programs to help them succeed.
Many kids with ADHD fall behind and when they do they start acting out because they are trying to overcompensate for the fact that they feel stupid, or because they are afraid people will think they are stupid, or because people let them get away with it. This is sad because most kids with ADHD actually have average to high IQ’s. Their parents are stuck feeling guilty because they are given the huge list of things they probably did wrong that made their kid a “bad kid”. Most kids with ADHD are put on medications and maybe given some nutritional changes but that is the extent of their treatment. Then to top it all off they are surrounded by idiots like the person who wrote the article I read and all the people who commented on it who really think the kid is just a rotten apple with lazy parents.
So the purpose of this rant is to try to get people to wake up. I don’t know why my oldest son has ADHD. My youngest son is perfectly normal. He can stare at a rock for thirty minutes and never loose focus. I know because he showed me once, he said he was hypnotizing it but we all know he was just staring at a rock. He has never been in trouble at school and is a straight A student. He had all the same vaccines as his brother, ate all the red starbursts and skittles he wanted, and I did have an epidural with him. The most probable causes I have heard for my oldest sons ADHD is the fact that he aspirated some meconium at birth and had lead poisoning when he was two because we were poor and our rental house had high lead levels in the soil. Both of these medical issues could have lead to ADHD or it could just be how he was when he was born. I have given up blaming myself because my focus needs to be on making sure he grows up to be a good man and a productive member of society.
So, if you have a kid with ADHD, ADD, or even Autism this is the best advice I can give; Stop listening to all the people who will tell you what you did wrong, it’s not real, your kid just needs a spanking, etc. and start fighting for your kid because your really the only one who can! You are your kids best and usually only advocate and every kid is different. What worked for my kid might not work for yours. Find what works for your kid.
My advice for anyone who doesn’t have a kid with ADHD, ADD, or Autism who wants to tell me what I did wrong or that my kid’s diagnosis isn’t real; Pay your dental insurance premium because I might just punch you in your face….ok I probably won’t because I can’t afford to get sued and loose my expensive house right next to the school that is so awesome with my son….but, your wrong and your spreading ignorance that is only going to hurt a bunch of kids that need the adults in their lives to give them a little extra help.
I’m not an expert. I’m just a mom…one who will never let her kid become just another statistic. #lifewithboys
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.