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Poll Results: What is ADHD?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 9% (10)
    A brain disease to be treated with drugs
  • 10% (11)
    A brain disease to be treated by natural remedies
  • 9% (10)
    Something caused by the family
  • 3% (4)
    Something caused by the schools
  • 21% (22)
    A complete scam made up by schools and doctors
  • 45% (47)
103 Total Votes  
post #1 of 142
Thread Starter 
What do you think? Does the "disease" exist? Have any of your kids had experience being drugged or narrowly escaping it?
post #2 of 142
One of my daughters has been diagnosed with ADD (not hyperactive type) and does take medication. It's not our only recourse, but we feel that it's what's best for her and our family at this time. I have it as well, though it hasn't been formally diagnosed. Once Alec has weaned I will probably seek out medication as well. I hate living like this and until recently didn't know that other people don't live like I do. It sucks.
post #3 of 142
I voted other...
I majored in Special Education, and have had some experience with ADD/ADHD. I think it exists, but that it's not exactly a disease. More of a set of behaviors taken to the extreme (picture a continuum of behavior, people with ADD/ADHD all the way on one side). I think many people may exhibit some of these behaviors at some time in their life. I think that it is exacerbated by the school setting and the unrealistic expectations schools have for children. I believe that medication is warrented in some cases. HOWEVER...I think that ADD/ADHD is SEVERELY over-diagnosed and over-medicated.
post #4 of 142
I voted "other." As a teacher, I know it definitely does exist but is certainly overdiagnosed as a "catch all." I wouldn't call it a disease of the brain, though. Much more complex than that if it's really ADhD.

post #5 of 142
YOu guys are right, it's not a disease. It is a different way of thinking, a different way for the brain to act. However, it's not like these kids start exhibiting the behaviors only when school starts. Even if my daughter were homeschooled she would still be on medication. I think that if you don't live with it every day in your life, you can't fully understand what it's like. It sucks!
post #6 of 142
I know that school doesn't create it (or that it doesn't just appear when they start school), but don't you think that the behavior required for school (sitting still for long periods, being quiet, active listening, waiting in line, etc) makes the behaviors more pronounced? That was my impression. Also, I think that it's harder to diagnose in a very young child, because many of the behaviors are natural ones for young children. I hope I'm not offending, or way off the mark, TwinnMom, as I don't know anyone personally. These were just my impressions from the information that I have been taught about it.
post #7 of 142
It's just so complex when it's truly ADD or ADhD. But, we have to fill out a huge checklist, as does the parent before the child can even be tested. THe scorer looks for matches in the behavior at home and at school. I've never spoken w/a parent who was caught unawares. Most approach me at the beginning of the year b/c they're frustrated and not sure what's going on w/their child's behavior. Incidentally, some of those kids are also the sweetest, brightest, and most lovable kids in my classes.

There are prob. a million different conditions that lead to ADhD like "symptoms" and it's just really hard to figure out what's really the issue, though! But, the families w/true ADhD have nothing in common; ie. come from all sorts of value systems, etc.

post #8 of 142
Sure, sitting in school, etc. does make the behavior more pronounced. In our case, my daughter isn't hyperactive. Her problem is a lack of focus and attention. It's plainly visible whether she's doing homework, sitting in class, playing on the playground, or doing a gymnastics class. She can't play family games without having to constantly be reminded when it's her turn or being told to come back to the game instead of rolling around on the floor or examining a bug she found in the corner. She makes me nervous when she's riding her bike because she'll forget what she's doing or get entranced with the cracks in the sidewalk and run into things. Team sports are not even an option for her. Give her a book or a GAmeboy, though, and the house could collapse around her without her noticing.

It's a very misunderstood condition. I'm not offended by your questions at all; I'd love to help other people understand children with attention problems. There are so many misconceptions!
post #9 of 142
Thread Starter 
I believe in a child's right to decide for herself whether medication is the right thing...if that's what she wants, it should be available to her. But in high school, I knew many kids who faked the diagnosis just to get the drugs, and then they sold them at school.

I do not believe in forced drugging of children. Teachers need to learn to work with all types of children rather than demanding they all fit into a certain mold.

Many children who have been diagnosed (in a 5-minute visit with someone they have never met, who doesn't bother to evaluate the child's school) do poorly in school but very well at things that interest them.
post #10 of 142
If a child has been diagnosed in 5 minutes, her parents need to get another diagnosis. My daughter was diagnosed after a long battery of written questions for both parents and her teachers. The psychologist had interviews with her teachers, her school counselor, and dh and I. He wanted to know every detail of her life from conception through the present time. She was observed by 2 psychologists (unknown to her) while she played in their playroom. She had a full physical at our family doctor before any of this. Believe me, we agonized long and hard over what to do, or if we even *needed* to do anything. Meanwhile, she was coming home crying, begging me not to send her to school because the other kids made fun of her. They called her "Space Kate" because she couldn't keep a focus on conversations with them, much less what was going on in class. She couldn't finish her school work and had hours of homework every night (no, I didn't make her do it). This is an extremely intelligent girl, in the gifted program, very bright and friendly and kind...but she couldn't show it. Her medication has helped her immensely.

And that's all I have to say about that.
post #11 of 142
This subject is so interesting! In the UK far fewer chidlren are diagnosed wiht ADHD, although sadly the trend is upwards. It shocks me how many children are diagnosed here in the US, they cannot surely all be really ADHD?!!

It's interesting that the brains of children with ADHD diagnoses have been shown to be different to their peers - the parts used for concentration etc are smaller. But nobody knows if this is a cause of ADHD or a result of the child not 'exercising' that part of the brain enough - we do know that the brain thrives (and grows) from 'exercising' it. I don't know if professionals will ever agree about the nature of ADHD.

I worked with hundreds of young people over the years, many with special needs. I saw children un-diagnosed and even taken off drugs once they went in classes with teachers who handled them well - thier 'condition' improved to the point of being absolutely non-existent. I'm not sayign that this would be the case for all chidlren, but I do believe that if the classroom environment met the needs of young children better, there would be a minimal number with the symptoms of ADHD.

AFter all, most young children should show the symptoms - they are not supposed to concentrate for long stretches of time, and they are supposed to be active learners!! Duh.

As an aside, I even knew a child who was drugged because his mother received disability benefit because of her son's 'condition'. She managed to wind him up before every appt with the consultant and persuade him that the child was ADHD. In fact, she needed the medication more than her son did. It still haunts me that nobody would listen to me and take a look at the family rather than drug the poor little boy.

I could go on, but it really bugs me to think that adults would drug chidlren to make them fit into a model that is not suited to a child. I"m not saying that this is true of all the children diagnosed with ADHD, or of your children here, but I've seen it to be true of many, many children in the system.

Edited to add that these drugs are stronger than cocaine. Everybody gets upset about illegal drug use, yet it is perfectly legal to drug large numbers of very young children just for the convenience of adults. Ironic, isn't it?

(I"ll stress again that I am talking of the majority of children with ADHD diagnoses, not all of them, and certainly not those discussed by parents here. Don't want to be taken as dismissing anybody's real and very valid experiences!)
post #12 of 142
I have several perspectives on this: one as a therapist in community mental health, one as a parent, and another as a consultant to Headstart. I agree that it is a mulifaceted issue; diagnosis should come from a very thorough assessment, not a 5 min. visit to the doctor (more like what Twinmom is describing should be the norm). I believe there are "true" cases of what looks like attention deficit. The disorder is one of regulating oneself (that's why issues like attention span and impulsivity are the hallmark). There are many causes. Poor attachment in infancy, trauma, and neglect can actually cause changes in brain chemistry, leading to the symptoms of ADHD. Bipolar disorder can appear to look like ADHD. Also, just a general difference in the way a child or grownup thinks (not related to any trauma or mental illness) can look like ADHD. That's why thorough asssessment is so important.

Brain scans have actually identified differences in the brains of children with ADHD.

Many kids in Headstart from multi-stressed families bear the appearance of ADHD. However it is hard to be calm, relaxed and self-regulating when your family has a myriad of problems.

I think there is a subset of kids who are very bright, well attached, and still have problems with self regulation. Some call them spirited children, "difficult children", "challenging or high needs" children. When the schools get them, they are often wanting to label them as ADHD. My son is one of these. We struggle with whether to go the route of labeling. He is truly a challenging child and would meet criteria for ADHD. Yet he was breastfed, co-slept, loving guidance, etc.

It is a complex issue, and one that is luckily getting a lot of research.
post #13 of 142
Thread Starter 
About the brain scans...were they done on kids who had been drugged? The drugs alter the chemistry of the brain, and that will show up on a scan. All brains "look different" from all other brains.

TwinMom, it sounds like your dd got a thorough evaluation from a caring person. It's too bad that kind of care is not available for all children.
post #14 of 142
I voted other as well.

One of my first nanny jobs was for a family of 4 boys. 2 of them had been diagnosed with ADD. The oldest was 13 and the youngest just three. The youngest started medication a few months after I was hired. He was out of control before the medication. He hit, kicked, spit, cursed, and tried stabbing his older brother with a screwdriver. The last straw was when he bit me on the arm. A week after that his mom and dad took him to see a doctor and he came back with meds. The turn around was UNBELIEVABLE! He went from a child who was out of control, frustrated, couldn't concentrate, was moody, to a sweet little boy who was able to focus on tasks and learn well.

I believe it exists, and is so sad for children and families going through it, but I also agree it is overdiagnosed WAY to much, and I think some children are put on it simply because they are "different". In my jobs case I believe it was NEEDED.

PS- because they were afraid of his violent behavior(which stopped after starting meds) they would lock him in his room at night so everyone could sleep without fear. So sad...
post #15 of 142
there was a show on PBS a couple of years ago about a principal in texas who started working at a new school. while reviewing his students records he noticed a very high number of add/adha kids at his school. upon further investigation he saw most of these diagnosis were teacher initiated. what his theory was these kids did have a deficite of attention. his solution was to increase his teacher to student ratio and add more activities for the kids. the children who required medication was drastically reduced.
i don't have the name of the program or any collaborating research, but i notice with my three, when they begin to act out of control i try to increase my involvement and interaction.
if a child is out of control, i can appreciate the desire for help. i just can't help wondering if there is a connection between drugs at birth, drugs for childhood symptoms and drug abuse as a teen ager and alchoholism/ drug addiction in adulthood.
i wont even start on my theories on early vaccination and childhood ailments.
post #16 of 142
yes, familyman, I was going to add that too, that adhd has dramatically increased since the number of compulsory vaccinations has gone up (in the 1960's and 70's). But that is probably a topic more for the vaccination board.....
post #17 of 142
ok, well what about all the cr*p in food these days?

They watch tons of tv and play videogames, eat junkfood, spend time w/o parents, and have lots of preservatives, etc. from mass vax.


post #18 of 142
Greaseball - I am sure that the children who have been scanned in the research into brain differences in ADHD children were not on drugs, otherwise the research would be invalid.

One piece of research was by Castellanos in 1996. He found that the right prefrontal cortex and two basal ganglia (which help to regulate attention) are smaller in children diagnosed with ADHD than in their peers. A region of the cerebellum which regulates motivational levels is also smaller in these ADHD children.

However, the question remains, whether or not the differences are due to a genetic factor, or due to lack of use of those parts of the brain, for whatever myriad of reasons. If a part of the brain is not used, it does not develop.

I think the hyphotheses that the increasing numbers of children with ADHD symptoms being due to a combination of diet, exposure to TV and technology and today's 'fast' way of living, make sense. The problem is compounded by the unreasonable expectations of children in many classrooms. I believe that the popularity of computer games, for example, that encourage and reward impulsive behaviours are a contributing factor in many cases.

A lot of research is taking place, but the jury is out at the moment regarding whether this is a genetic or social condition. Whatever the 'experts' finally decide, in my opinion the answer should not lie with drugs, but with making the environment fit the needs of the child. I"m not criticising anyone for using the drugs to help their child if a proper diagnosis has taken place, but I do think that more energy should be put by the experts and researchers into developing ways to work with these children rather than reach for the prescription pad.

It is ironic to consider the anti drug campaigns in schools where in some cases a third of the kids are on drugs stronger than cocaine, just to make them easier for teachers to 'control'. But of course, the drug companies have a vested interest in pushing the drugs onto children, who usually have little choice in the matter. I believe that we are making a big problem for the future as nobody knows what the long term effects will be on these millions of children takign these drugs.
post #19 of 142
I also voted "other". I'm a school psychologist (*shudder* ) and so I'm often asked to give this diagnosis. I personally believe that there are some true cases out there, and that the true cases are chemically induced (for whatever reason) in the brain, but that those cases are few and far between. I rarely give this diagnosis at all, and feel like I've probably seen fewer than five kids with true ADHD in the ten years I've been practicing, and I never suggest to a parent that s/he medicate his/her child. Whether I not I think it's the viable option, I'm not versed in the side effects. But I will say that when a child is truly ADHD, it seems to work pretty darn well. The titration is very scary to me though. It's such guess work and so fraught.

Interestingly Lauren, I totally agree with you about the bipolar/ADHD link and it's a really hot topic in the medical and educational settings currently. They're also linked to autistic spectrum. But I'm sure you know that.

I fully expect to receive the medication phone call from my ds's kindergarten teacher a few weeks into the school year when he starts school (he's 3 now). I have no intention of telling them what my occupation is, and I know he's not ADHD, but boy-oh-boy, he certainly is spirited and assertive and spunky, and those traits often don't go over very well in the school setting. More of those things we cherish in adulthood that we also don't find very convenient in childhood. :

post #20 of 142
Sidenote: I had a beautiful little girl in my K class this year who was diagnosed w/ADhD and bipolar disorder. Parents chose not to medicate and are trying a lot of alternative methods to help her.
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