I Don’t Give A Damn About A Bad Reputation

One of the hardest things we deal with when it comes to ADHD is the stigma. I don’t share Doodicus’s diagnosis with just anyone. His pediatrician knows, and obviously the school psychologist and the family counselor we saw know as they were the ones who determined he was ADHD, but aside from that only three other people know that he has ADHD and takes medication for it. Those three are his teachers.

We don’t talk about it with family or friends because we know what will go through their heads once our backs are turned: “Yeah, yeah, sure. ADHD…that’s just a way to excuse a kid who didn’t get the right kind of discipline,” or “That’s just approval for him to act out of control…”  Why would they think that? Because quite frankly, that’s what we thought when we heard someone else’s kid “supposedly” had ADD/ADHD: over-diagnosed by doctors wanting to push drugs or parents who wanted to dope their rambunctious kid. Basically, we considered ADHD an excuse for shit parenting.

Yep. That’s what we honestly thought.

ADHD is not a behavioural problem. Let’s just put that out there right now. Doodicus is not bullying other kids, stealing lunch money. He’s not shoving them from the monkey bars. He’s not punching holes into the walls of his room just because. He received discipline as we thought as necessary and that fit the “crime”, as it were. Time outs were frequent, but consistent. Sparring Partner was more in the “spare the rod” camp, but my argument against that was if you, the adult, can’t control your anger, then how can you expect a three, four, five, six, etc. year old to do it??

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobiological disorder. It is characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Although individuals with AD/HD can be very successful in life, without appropriate identification and treatment, AD/HD can have serious consequences. These consequences may include school failure, depression, conduct disorder, failed relationships, and substance abuse. Early identification and treatment are extremely important.

While the facts are out there about ADHD, I know without a doubt there is judgemental attitude about both the behaviour and treatments. To talk about it will help me come to grips with the reality of both and to dispel those misconceptions I know even you might have. I promise not to hold it against you.

8 thoughts on “I Don’t Give A Damn About A Bad Reputation”

  1. I do believe it has become a catch all diagnosis and that many kids are diagnosed with it who are not ADHD. That said, I also believe MANY children do suffer from it and I’ve seen the difference medication and treatment/management can make for those kids. It is great to see those kids be able to get some control that they weren’t able to have before.

  2. You really don’t need to tell anyone. It is a family issue, nothing more.

    I had a doctor once tell me, when I walk balking at the idea of S2 taking ADD meds, that it is no different than me taking pills for high blood pressure, or insulin if I were diabetic.

    If there is a condition that medication can help, you would be negligent not to at least give it a try.

    Hated that doc…but this was one good thing he did.

    As a side note, when my grandfather was a young man, he suffered from depression. His family would take him to “the city” for treatment, which consisted of shocking his brain until he was so out of it, he would be in bed for weeks after. We have come a long way since then.

  3. On some level, I totally get where you’re coming from. So many kids these days are thrown a label, that it seems as if all kids (mostly boys as you probably notice, because in general, boys are hyper, and a lot of times teachers, (mostly women, if you notice) don’t want to deal with them. It leaves the kids who truly have ADHD at a major disadvantage. And to a certain extent, I get that. As you know, dealing with a “special needs” or challenging kid, is at best, truly exhausting. There are days where I want to take an ice pick to the brain.

    However, that’s where my agreement ends. For us, and me particularly, I feel that as a parent, I’m his advocate and on some level, an educator. I will tell anyone who will listen, that my son is on the spectrum (which honestly, he tows the line with his spectrum diagnosis, we’ve talked about this before, and later on down the road, I see more of an ADHD diagnosis, or perhaps auditory/visual processing, which can be masked as ADHD). I don’t use it as an excuse for crappy behavior. As anyone that has seen me parent, knows that I don’t tolerate him acting out. We try to work through it as best we can, and truthfully, he’s generally as good as gold for his teachers and sitter. And most of the time, people wouldn’t know there was anything wrong, unless you really listen to him talk.

    But still, I will do everything I can to make sure he has every resource made available to him, and a lot of time, you find out about said resources by talking with other parents.

  4. I had the same opinion about ADHD when I met my husband. When he told me HE had ADD, I thought – yeah, whatever. We ALL have a hard time concentrating, especially when it’s something we don’t want to do. And then I started living with him, and my stepdaughter who also has ADD, and my stepson who has the most severe ADHD even his teachers have ever seen. He literally can accomplish nothing in school when he is unmedicated. It’s not that he doesn’t want to – he just can’t organize the thoughts to complete a single task, gets frustrated, and gives up – and then the impulsivity kicks in and he does something that ends up getting him in trouble.

    It is for that reason that we decided I would homeschool him this year. Kindergarten was a disaster for him. He was diagnosed at the end of kindergarten, and first grade was good. THen he had an inept 2nd grade teacher and everything got bad for awhile. Good 3rd grade teacher, and mediocre 4th grade teacher leading to pretty much a dismal year. Don’t get me wrong – Zachary, like most kids with ADHD, is EXTREMELY intelligent. He has tested into High Ability Learner (gifted and talented, etc) at his school. The kid loves math, and medicated, excells at any subject given to him. Without meds…even basic math is a struggle.

    We decided that this year, since I am staying home anyway, we would homeschool. It allows him to get up and walk around when he needs to, to work at his own pace, to not get frustrated if he has to wait for other kids to comprehend what he got immediately (math concepts usually), and, if we have a bad day or forget meds, we can scrap the plan for the day and work through it – and catch up the next day.

    I am going to be honest – we’ve been doing homeschool for two weeks, and there are days when I seriously want to lock myself in my room and cry – and then write letters of apology to ever teacher who had to deal with him without meds.

    My son is a good kid. He really is – he’s fantastic. Seeing him struggle to get through schoolwork when his brain isn’t working for him, it breaks your heart. Yes, he still receives discipline just like any of the other kids. As even his doctor tells him at every visit – his meds don’t make him behave, and not having them doesn’t allow him to misbehave. All they do is make it easier for him to think logically, see the consequences of things, and behave differently.

    But yeah, totally days I want to scream, pull my hair out, drink, and possibly run away with the circus.

  5. It’s completely your business about who knows Doodicus’s diagnosis, and no one else’s. ADHD is definitely a true disorder. There are neurotransmitter changes in the brain of kids with ADHD that aren’t present in kids who don’t have it. And I have no doubt that Doodicus is getting the treatment he needs to help him with this disorder. I’ve seen firsthand children who had ADHD and the amazing turnaround that they’ve made when they’re on proper treatments, and it can really be incredible.

    That said, there are definitely kids who are diagnosed with ADHD due to parents who think that children should sit constantly unless told it’s OK to get up, lazy teachers (and unrealistic school systems) who don’t recognize that children are not biologically programmed to sit for such long periods of time, and others who feel that any child who isn’t being a “perfect angel” every minute of the day is clearly in need of medication.

    The big problem is the stigma, like you said, that ALL children diagnosed with ADHD are done so because of one of the problems in my second paragraph. There are far too many people who think that’s the only reason (I think a lot of these people also think that depression can be cured by multivitamins and exercise).

    Disorders of the brain are still so misunderstood by both medical science and the public that I wonder what it will take to get the stigma lessened. I hope, for your sake and Doodicus’s sake, that it comes soon, whatever it is.

  6. I admit I have made those assumptions too without knowing whether there was a diagnosis in place. It is however difficult when for all the parents like you dealing with a bona fide medical issue there are also a bunch of parents who can’t be bothered with adequate discipline for kids who are up for challenging any authority figure and pass it off as something else. It is a hard place to be.

  7. I’ve had those thoughts about people too (my cousin) but I also realize that it IS a real medial diagnosis for most people and people (like my cousin who DOES want her children medicated because she has never ever put them in time out or said no to them so now they are terrors) who just aren’t parenting are the exception.

    Since having K, I really try not to judge people. Obviously, I’m having issues when it comes to my cousin on this subject but I’m TRYing.

    The more I learn, the more I learn that I don’t know shit.

  8. There’s no need to broadcast your son’s issues anyway – I mean, judgement is out there and he certainly doesn’t need any added pressure.

    I do think that the social aspects of ADHD and autism have not caught up with the medical aspects. Medically, many more kids are being diagnosed because doctors and parents know more about what to look for. Socially, we might as well be back in the 1950s where a kid with ADHD is just rambunctious and won’t apply him/herself, and a kid with autism is just retarded. And terms like “hyperactive” and “on the spectrum” have just become buzzwords rather than more accurate descriptions.

    I hope the stigma disappears…or at least that you’re able to provide adequate coping mechanisms for Doodicus (and yourselves) so that the stigma becomes less important.

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