Karen & Kurt 
Edgewood in St. Denis

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Smart Woman

ADHD is real and I'm really tired of the bullshit

Posted by karenandkurt on June 29, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Yes, I did write “bullshit” in the title above. I have spent six years as a member of the ADHD community – I don’t have the disorder but I work for an organization that struggles to get real, good, science-based information into the hands of parents, affected adults, their spouses and partners, teachers, friends, doctors, health care administrators and everyone else who has even the slightest interest in this disorder. And what is the damn message that the popular culture keeps opining? “ADHD isn’t real, it’s made up, it’s an excuse for laziness/bad parents, it’s just so drug companies can make money.”

And who do you think the biggest of the bad in their opinion is? Me – I am the one answering the phones and describing how to treat the disorder and yes, that includes employing medication. I am the one telling you to drug your kids in their view.

Want an example? Here:
 It’s a horrible shame to be making kids take these mind-altering drugs like that!  It must be hard for you money-grubbing whores to sleep at night.


After six years, I just want to scream. And if I want to scream, how much more loudly must the thousands and thousands of parents, adults, doctors and every other member of the ADHD who have dealt with this disorder for a lifetime want to scream?

I remember when I didn’t know anything about ADHD either. I never thought it was “made up” because I saw the real struggles my friend and my cousin were having. But I didn’t understand the treatment, I didn’t understand how medication worked, I didn’t understand the history of this disorder. My answers then were simplistic and very, very wrong.

I got older, I knew more people affected by it, I dated someone with it, I was the instructor and campus minister for students affected by it. I learned more. My understanding changed. My opinions became better informed.

Then I started at CHADD and wow! The science, the studies, the “lived experience” of this disorder! For six years I have talked with media and press members (my former counterparts), parents, doctors and anyone who asked a question and was willing to listen. The moment I say “ADHD” I have been on call – on airplanes, around bonfires, to friends, to attendees at training conferences, to strangers in the grocery store.

But I need to stop reading the comments sections of news articles on ADHD. This is what we are up against – what I am up against:

From "Minority children less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD":

Calidip
As a hispanic, none of my family members have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Also, none of my family members are afraid to discipline our own or each others’ children with a good swatting when they need it.

Eric
ADHD is a recent construction that allows for the easy medication of children to displace parenting skills and responsibilities onto drugs. It’s also another means for displace responsibility of behavior away from the individual.

Christine
I am wondering if a lot of it is BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS? Why is it so prevalent today and it was not years ago? I do know MANY, not all,, parents of today discipline a lot different than we did when our children were growing up. Everywhere I go, children are screaming and demanding.....parents ignore that behavior. Children need structure and discipline.....

erin
ADHD is WAAAAAY over-diagnosed.

Joe Camel
White America you're poisoning your children. STOP.


From "Kids as young as 4 can have ADHD":

erich2112x
When my kids get over excited, that means it's time to get them over to the park for some softball or football. After a couple of hours of burning off all that excess energy, their so wiped out that all they want to do is eat, (like a pack of buzzards), and take a nap. What the heck is so wrong with the old school methods? Why are we becoming so dependent on pills?

mdc
Total BS!

ELISSA
BY ALL MEANS...LETS TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO POP A PILL IF THEY DON'T FIT IN! THEN WONDER WHY THEY BECOME DRUGGIES! LETS MEDICATE THEM TO BE SLOWER, LESS INTUITIVE,, LESS CREATIVE, MORE ADMINABLE TO CURRENT LOCAL SOCIAL NORNS. LETS MAKE SURE THEY DON'T ASK QUESTIONS THAT STIMULATE MORE QUESTIONS. LETS PRODUCE MORE DOCILE, ROBOT ADULTS WHO DO AS THEY ARE TOLD AND NOT PROTEST IN THE STREETS! WHAT HAPPENS TO THE VISUAL LEARNER WHEN SHE/HE IS STUCK IN A ROOM WITH AN AUDITORY TEACHER/PARENT WHO DOES NOTHING BUT TALK? ACT OUT? DOODLE AND DRAW?

GAZE OUT THE WINDOW? CAUSE 'TROUBLE'? WHAT ABOUT THE KID THAT LEARNS THRU
TOUCHING/FEELING/PUTTING THINGS TOGETHER? WILL HE RACE AROUND THE ROOM CAUSING MAYHEM? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILD WHO LEARNS FROM THE WHOLE TO THE PARTS..NOT LIKE OUR SCHOOLS...BITS AND PIECES...MEMORIZE THEM BUT BE UNABLE TO USE THEM. LIKE PHONICS..BITS AND PIECES AND THE KID WILL NEVER READ!! WE NEGATE THE VERY CORE OF OUR CHILDREN AND THEN WONDER WHY THEY ACT OUT AND DON'T COMPLY! HOW DID I GET SO SMART? I AM ONE!!! A VISUAL, RIGHT BRAINED LADY WHO BUSTED OUT OF THE SYSTEM 71 YEARS AGO!

Kapukane
Listen....you have bought into all the hype and myths. There is NO SUCH THING as ADHD!....PERIOD!...That is a absolute 100% fact!......We have got to stop this and expose these drug companies and doctors for what they are doing. My doctor friend also says this is the biggest scam going and most doctors agree.


From "When to test for ADHD:"


JohnAdams11
ADHD is a myth. From the time children are old to watch TV, they are conditioned to focus in 30 second increments by advertisements. Parent's are afraid to punish their children for fear of being reported to CPS. So they do not learn impulse control. All of our foods contain un-natural ingredients that we can’t even pronounce let alone understand their effects on our brain chemistry. Big Pharma stands to gain trillions of dollars if they convince the population that they have a "mental disorder" that can only be cured with drugs. Aldous Huxley wrote in his novel "Brave New World" of a world where everyone is sedated and controlled through pharmaceuticals. He went on to admit that it was not a work of fiction, but a glimpse into the future.


From "A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise":


DJS
It's highly implausible that there has been an 50% increase in ADHD in the past decade. This trend is being driven by Big Pharma, pressure from overwhelmed teachers who find it easier to teach to a drugged classroom and now by parents and students who are seeking "performance enhancement."

Perhaps it is time for elite high schools and college to "drug test" for Adderall  and Ritalin in applicants and students so that students who are not taking performance enhancing medications aren't left by the wayside.

L.J.
In other words, SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE CHILDREN, not ferrying them to some other source of entertainment. BE WITH THEM. Take walks, show them how to clean the bathroom, have them care for a pet, read books, do some art.........Stop scheduling their days with activities in which they have to stop in 45 minutes and do something else.......Let them take the time it takes to paint something, or create something.

NYCgg
Discipline, pesticides, plastics, food coloring, food allergies, sugar, diet, pollution, PANDAS, lack of sleep, sleep apnea, lack of excercise, "Nature Deficit Disorder", iPads, iPods, TV, DNA, bad teachers, boring curriculum, cultural values, single moms, substance abusing parents, early childhood trauma, excellerated academics, No Child Left Behind, "Big Pharma"........

Oh my god no wonder it's easier to just give the kids medication.

MarkB
Today's adults don't know how to raise children, so they demand pills from doctors to do the raising for them. I blame the 1960s, and the generation of children I was a part of. They didn't want to be like their parents, so they didn't bother doing the hard work of parenting. Then girls stopped babysitting - as was well discussed at the time - and they didn't learn the basics of dealing with kids that had be learned at an early age for generations. That gave us a generation of adults who were clueless as to how to deal with children. Add to that the yuppie obsession for the perfect child, and you get a generation of drug-addled kids.

Gorbachenko
In my day ADHD was referred to as DLS - Doesn't Like School.

Suziswatching
And can you imagine how bad they are now?? And what this is doing to these young minds?

 Jim
“Things that children do that annoy adults.” = ADHD


And this, gentle readers, is just a sample of what I have read or has been said to me in this past six years.

In November, in a moment of candor and exhaustion, I said to our CEO that CHADD may have a divine purpose intended for it by God. Oh, that was a startled look I received in return! I hope that CHADD does, but I hope that the ADHD community can find a way to overcome the misinformation purposely spewed by ignorant and harmful agencies and individuals. People are hurting! And yet it is popular to deny this disorder and blame people who are seeking medical treatment for it.

Let me tell you the basic facts and truth about ADHD so you can help:

ADHD is real. And it has been around for a very long time.

This disorder was documented in the 1600s and again in the 1700s, describing adult ADHD. “Fidgety Phil” was written in 1844 and described childhood ADHD.

Following the flu pandemic in 1917, doctors began to see that children who had the very high fever had problems with impulsive control and attention – and then they began to see a group of children with the same problems but who had never had the high fever. The modern research of ADHD began in the 1920s and the first use of stimulant medication was employed. Modern stimulant medication – by the brand name of Ritalin – was first used in the 1960s.

ADHD is a neurobiological condition. It’s brain-based. Researchers are finding physical differences in the size, shape and function of the brains of people affected by ADHD.  They know that it’s primarily genetic – if your genes are a village neighborhood, they know what block the gene(s) sit on and they are coming closer to identifying which house the genes live in.

In group studies, we see the brain differences in fMRIs.

And in everyday life of thousands – millions – of people, we see the disorder manifest. How dare some call this “laziness” when a person affected by ADHD is tired out from trying so hard all day long just be the same as anyone else?  This is a cognitive disorder, a hidden disability that impacts every aspect of a person’s life. It’s something that every person I spoken with who has this disorder desperately wants out of their lives.

Medication works. And lots of people need it to live normal lives.

No, I am not a shill or a whore for Big Pharma. I am not interested in drugging children or adults into submission to make them easier to handle. I truly believe that you take medication only when you need it, when there are not other alternatives available. And if this medication didn’t work, we wouldn’t still be using it after 90 years.

If you have diabetes, no one says you’re weak for employing insulin. No one faults a nearsighted person for relying on a pair of glasses. No one denies the person emerging from surgery pain medication.

But when it’s medication that helps the brain and improves a person’s life – aha! We attack them. We tell them they are weak and to “just get over it.” We say that if “they’d just try harder” they wouldn’t need to rely on medication. We tell them that if they’d eat better and stop watching so much TV all their problems would go away.

Our society says over and over that if there is a brain-based problem, it’s the fault of the person affected by it and that it’s a morally questionable to employ medication. Just buck-up, buttercup.

God save us, we are damn cruel people.

And the thing that makes the situation better – effective medication – people struggle to prevent others from employing. Because it’s always better to let the house burn than to turn the firehouse on it.

Medication works by increasing the neurotransmitters in the brain, by helping the brain organize itself and maintain attention.

Want to know what it’s like to have ADHD? Watch TV when someone else has the clicker and is channel surfing. Medication puts that clicker firmly in your hands.

If you need medication, or your child does, then take the medication. There is no point to allowing suffering to continue. It is morally reprehensible to allow someone to continue to suffer because you don’t “believe” in medication. It is sin.

Behavior management works. If you can keep it up.


A person with ADHD is encouraged to create systems and routines to work around and through their symptoms as part of their treatment plan.

In real life, that means to create a plan for every possible eventuality during the day, to schedule three times as much time to accomplish every task and to schedule every task! It is keeping track of calendars and  day planners when you lose every object you touch, it’s writing downs to-do lists and shopping lists and routine lists and then hoping you can manage to hang on to them long enough to complete them.
It’s exhausting. But it’s necessary, especially if medication is not an option. Behavior management can consume the better part of every day. And one mistake, one slip and the entire day can go down the tubes. And depending on the person’s self-view, the hits to the self-esteem, the support or lack thereof that the person has, it could either be well-let’s-get-up-and-do-it-again or it can be what’s-the-point?-I’m a freaking’-failure-anyway. It is a very, very think between those two reactions.

All the books, all the organizational systems, all the computers and clocks and coaches and therapy in the world don’t make the symptoms go away. Every day is a slog. You just have to hope that today is better than the others.

Life can be a beautiful mess.

While writing this I came across a quote by St. Francis of Assisi:

“The brothers     . . . can live spiritually among the Saracens and nonbelievers in two ways.  One way is not to engage in arguments or disputes but to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake and to acknowledge that they are Christian.  The other way is to announce the word of God, when they see it pleases the Lord in order that unbelievers may believe.” 

It took the wind out of the sails that have brought me thus far in this essay.  For a moment, it seems that Francis had kindly taken my hand, understood my anger and spoke calmly during my storm. How best to deal with the comments, the attacks and the distortions presented by the “nonbelievers of ADHD?”

  • Don't engage in pointless arguments.
  • Care for everyone. No exceptions.
  • Acknowledge their dignity (don't call names in return).
  • If they're willing to listen, then talk with them.


The detractors, the nonbelievers, the foreigners who intrude in our personal lives have a goal of making a terrible mess even worse. They promote lies, they deny science, and they blame people for their disabilities. They stir up trouble and sit back, happy to watch someone else’s world burn.

ADHD can make a mess out of life. It wrecks havoc on personal relationships, destroys careers, tanks bank accounts and takes lives – figuratively and literally as people perish by depression and suicide.

But life is and always will be a beautiful mess. When there is treatment, when there is knowledge, when there is understanding, when there is kindness, there is beauty.

We make this better in two ways: We help each other. We talk with each other.

There is help and treatment for ADHD that works. There is hope. The detractors are wrong but if one of among them is willing to listen to the truth about ADHD, I am happy to talk with them so that maybe they can change their minds. If someone needs more information because that person or someone they love has ADHD, I will give them everything I have.

And that will make a world of difference to someone who has ADHD.


Categories: Deep Thoughts

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1 Comment

Reply Lyn
7:13 PM on August 24, 2013 
Thank you.