Drugging Your 'ADHD' Kid Could Be Lazy Parenting

Health Check 117

AdderallI have always been astonished by the number of kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- especially boys. Nearly 10 percent of children 4 to 14 reportedly have ADHD. That's 5.4 million kids!

As some moms tell it, Adderall -- a drug that boosts focus and helps impulse control -- is the best thing that ever happened to their kid (and them by default!). One mommy friend, who gladly gives it to her grade-schooler, used to complain about how he didn't like to sit still, wouldn't focus on any one thing for more than a half-hour, and how impulsive he was. I felt for her -- I really did. But a part of me always wondered if all those complaints were just a part of being a rambunctious kid. Well, that actually may be the case. Some experts are questioning whether ADHD is even real.

One doctor goes as far as to say the entire disorder is "made up" and an "excuse." The reason? He claims most children are given Adderall to actually treat poor academic performance in school, which is conveniently blamed on ADHD. Instead of medicating kids, he suggests addressing the real issue -- a bad academic environment or one that just doesn't jive with the way they learn.

In a way, Adderall has become a popular cure-all for struggling students. It's not surprising to hear teens and even college students still take it. "My kids don’t want to take it, but I told them, 'These are your grades when you’re taking it, this is when you don't,' and they understood," one mom said.

It wasn't until I became a parent that I realized that not every child learns the same way. Some can thrive in a noisy, hectic environment. Others need more order and solitude. Some blossom in an artistic curriculum; others crave math and science. Education isn't a one size fits all kind of thing. So a child who is not doing well in school, who lacks focus, who can't seem to sit still, may not always have ADHD. She might be frustrated by the teaching method, unchallenged, or not getting the type of interaction she may need. Unfortunately, that solution costs money and time most parents, schools, and communities can't or are not willing to spend.

Now, just to be clear, I don't really buy that ADHD does not exist at all. It's a very real affliction for a lot of kids and adults too, I'm sure. I think some children exhibit behavior so unmanageable, so out-of-control, there is clearly something emotionally amiss. However, I think far too many parents are too quick to pop a pill in their child's mouth. We owe it to them to try to find another way first.

Do you think ADHD is over-diagnosed?

 

Image via Arenamontanus/Flickr

boys, elementary school, kid health

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MamaM... MamaMay007

Have you read up on the brain scans of "ADHD" children? Basically it says that they are brain development wise 2 or3 years behind other kids their age. They will catch up.

3mom627 3mom627

I work in the schools and deal with hyperactive kids every day. It can be very hard for a teacher who is trying to get a point across to 20 other kids when one child is running around and all the attention is on that student.

epony... eponymous1

 My son takes Adderall, but it's not because I'm a "lazy parent."  I finally gave in, after trying homeopathy for his hyperactivity, when I became seriously concerned for his own safety.  He was often having accidents due to his lack of ability to focus and control his behavior.  And, for his school performance.  I have since read about there being a possible correlation between ADHD and artificial colors in food, so I have dropped all artificial colors from our diet and I've seen an improvement in his behavior, after the medication wears off early evening.  My goal is to wean him off of Adderall.   

PonyC... PonyChaser

We live in an "assembly line" society - one where, if a child doesn't learn exactly like all the others in the 'one size fits all' setting, then there must be something wrong with the child, because there CERTAINLY can't be anything wrong wtih the way the school is run/structured.


I'm not pointing fingers at teachers, by the way. They do an amazing job. Period.


But it's been proven over and over that boys learn differently than girls, and yet boys (especially in the primary grades) are expected to sit quietly and pay attention for long periods of time. Those who can't - because they're naturally wired to be predatory little puppies, hunting, stalking, running around, pounding on each other like boys are supposed to do - they're labeled ADHD and stuffed with medication.


I agree that for a small part of the population, ADHD is a very real situation, and medication is an appropriate response, along with counseling, behavior therapy, etc.


But for the rest? I sure wish schools could adapt to the kids instead of the kids being expected to adapt to the schools.

gridi... gridironsmom

I was able to diagnose my son as ADHD without a school environment involved. He is 4 1/2. He is currently in prek and speech therapy. He does better now than without adderall. My husband and I weren't thrilled to put him on meds and no one really suggested it to us. It was something we saw in daily life over the summer. Its not that he was bored he just wouldn't/ couldn't sit still long enough to focus. Now even at home he plays with his toys in a way he didn't before.

toots... tootslarue

I am a 33yr old who has adhd and on adderal,i would try another type of med with less amphetimines for children.Has anyone read what adderal has in it?There are alot of other meds  for this that are less harmfull.

Julie Petrenko

My husband has ADD and takes adderall.  He sees an improvment in his focus at work.  He describes it as a hampster on a wheel in his head.  He can't think of anything for very long.  When he's on his meds the hampster gets off and he can concentrate.  He was just diagnosed this past year.  He's always known that something was wrong.  He's just finally glad that he's got something to help with it now. 

jalaz77 jalaz77

I have always said it's over diagnosed. It's like fibromyalgia. Someone needs a diagnosis to "explain" why there is a problem. A concrete answer. Do I think meds work for some? Probably, but those kids are usually zombies cause of the meds...it's a temp fix.

Jim Heaton

First off I do believe that ADD/ADHD is real. I also believe that it is often over diagnosed and kids are being medicated unnecessarily. Since the government and others love to do studies a few need to be done on the supposed rates of ADHD at schools and how they rate with the number of minutes each day the kids spend in physical activity be it at recess and/or PE. I would be willing to be that schools that have lower amount of times that allow kids to be physically active also have higher instances of kids being diagnosed with ADHD.

Meghan Macklin Anderson

You might want to check your 'facts'. 10% of 4-14 diagnosed with it? Um, yeah, no.



My son is on meds. He is far, far, far from being anything that remotely resembles a zombie in ANY SENSE of the word. He doesn't take it for grades either. He takes it because he can't function in society without it.



And FWIW ADHD has been diagnosed for over a hundred years. Just by a different name.

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