Rowan getting wired with a microphone.My name as of the past few days has been changed to 'Coffee Mom’ and I don’t mean that I drink a lot of coffee. I do enjoy a cup or four, yes. But I also give my kid two half-cups a day. Not for fun, not because he asks, but because I'm fairly sure he's got attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or (ADHD).
My post about it got so much attention that over the weekend, I ended up going out to a motel (the house we just moved into is not in camera-ready shape yet!) with a crew from Good Morning America to film a segment they dubbed "Mom Gives 7-Year-Old Son Coffee Daily to Treat ADHD." Yup, that's me (though they spelled my name wrong!).
It was a fun experience, and the comments are nothing short of fascinating, but there are a few things edited out that I'd personally like to write back in ...
First off, if you haven't seen the video, check it out:
Both in GMA's article and in a few comments, the focus was on the word 'undiagnosed.' What they implied is I'm some anti-establishment hippie who is running rogue with my natural fiber Rx pad that I only scribble "natural remedies" on in charcoal. Okay, not quite, but the truth is that my cousin, husband, and sister all are diagnosed, my mother is a nurse, and my husband and sister both were on medications -- and despised them. My husband refused to take his after awhile, and my sister outright asked my parents to please take her off of them. With a family history of the disorder, we're not exactly flying blind here. We also took a lot of steps before this, in changing his diet to be as healthy as possible (I've looked into the Feingold diet but find that difficult to follow), removed artificial dyes, we do discipline, and he spends about half of his time at home running around in the fenced yard we got specifically so he could do just that. No soda-drinking, candy-sucking TV zombie I want to sit down and shut up, here.
Also, Rowan's teacher thought he exhibited unusual behavior last year, but his doctor didn't. I wasn't sure. I mean, who WANTS to think your kid has a medical issue? No one. Since we moved in June after my husband got out of the Navy, we haven't set up new doctors yet, and I also was waiting on my son's new school district to do their reevaluations for his IEP forms (he already does speech). I asked for a full reevaluation, and have been looking not just at ADHD, but into a central auditory processing disorder as well. So a lack of diagnosis at this point is due to circumstance, though of course I do fear that a doctor's diagnosis is going to start an argument over using drugs that I don't want to use.
How do I know it's not just normal kid behavior? Only people who aren't familiar with ADHD children really would ask that. It interferes with his interactions with his peers, and even his teacher had commented on how he couldn't even SIT at his desk -- he felt the need to stand, so she let him work with his knee in his chair. It's not just kid behavior when it stands out from all their peers, and interferes significantly in daily life. In most kids, also, caffeine gets them very hyper. For Rowan, it doesn't. Some moms call that "the ultimate test" to see if it's really ADD/ADHD. This "coffee for hyperactivity" remedy is so common and has been around for decades that many people were wondering why ABC even thought it was news at all.
The best thing I saw in all comments was my own opinion, clear as day: every single risk ominously listed for coffee is also a risk of all of the approved drugs ... but their list continues on to much more serious things as well. The doctor implies we're looking to rush out and cure ADHD ... we're not. The goal here is management. Ritalin doesn't cure it either. I fully intend on looking into behavioral therapies, and better long term solutions as well. I by no means think that giving him 4 ounces of coffee, twice a day, is a lifelong solution, or is Game Over, job well done. We've still got lots to do.
But don't get me wrong -- Clayton Sandell was incredibly nice, as was his whole team from GMA, and I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I went into this knowing that they would have medical professionals disagreeing with me, but then again, they have to. Can you imagine how much trouble they'd be in if they aired a segment basically telling people something that's not FDA-approved was a good idea? I'm just grateful they didn't include my mention of putting breast milk and garlic oil in the ear for an ear infection as a snippet to make me look crazy. Not that I need help, really. Ahem.
Especially now when we have moms jumping out to say, "Yeah, I've been giving Mountain Dew for this!" it's obvious why doctors don't want to just say, "Sure, caffeine might help." It's obvious without guidance, not everyone makes the best choices, and according to them, this includes me, of course. Not only are the dyes in Mountain Dew actually linked to hyperactivity (depending on who you ask), but the sugar or HFCS sure isn't helping either, so please, stop doing that. Black tea is great, but milk possibly kills some of the antioxidant value. Rowan likes coffee better, with less milk and sugar, but it has about the same caffeine in a 4-ounce cup of coffee as an 8-ounce cup of black tea too.
Would you try this treatment if needed? What did you think about their segment?