“ADHD is the most poorly-named affliction ever. Like ‘Hi, do you have a profound physical inability to accomplish your goals specifically because they’re your goals and also the thought of your friends not liking you makes you want to die? You may have Trouble Sitting Still Disorder.’” Premed with ADHD
This made me chuckle. It is a confusing diagnosis for sure. It’s very similar to the autism saying: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” No two people or diagnoses are alike.
The CDC defines ADHD this way:
“… one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.”
It’s normal for kids to be easily distracted, restless or impulsive. That doesn’t merit an automatic diagnosis of ADHD. KidsHealth.org points out that ADHD is a medical condition with differences in brain activity and development, making it harder for these kids to sit still and so on.
Hubs and I used to be very opinionated about parenting and conditions like ADHD, feeling like we would know more and do better if we in those parents’ shoes. Maybe those parents just want to drug their kids because they are active… <sigh> We had no clue what we were talking about.
Years later, I’m a parent of two children with medical and psychological diagnoses of ADHD. Both boys struggle, but in different ways, and they are both medicated, but with different medications. Again, no two diagnoses are the same.
ADHD is separated into different categories: Impulsive, Hyperactive, Inattentive, or Combination. (Again, a great definition of these was found on KidsHealth.org) E, was first diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7, prior to his autism diagnosis. His ADHD is a combination: Inattentive/Impulsive with a little Hyperactivity. He struggles to follow multi-step directions, procrastinates, is absent-minded, and often loses track of things (Inattentive). Without his medication he is almost wild. He acts without thinking, is over-emotional in his reactions and, many times, he hits or pushes when playing and may hurt someone but, “wasn’t meaning to”. When he was younger, he was a bit of a risk taker, climbing things and unaware of dangers like being cautious of cars in a parking lot and such (Impulsive). He will also interrupt conversations, tell others how to play their video games, talks excessively, and fidgets constantly (Hyperactivity).
Now C, also diagnosed with ADHD before his autism diagnosis, also has a combination type, but it’s very different, being more Inattentive/Hyperactive with a little Impulsivity. One of the biggest issues we deal with is his constant feeling of boredom. Very few things keep his attention and he wants to be entertained all the time; he seems unable to entertain himself and this is very hard on the family (Inattentive). While he is less on the move now, he was the kid that never stopped moving (Hyperactive). He is still minimally aware of what’s going on around him and often interrupts conversations or is unsafe in parking lots and so on (Impulsive).
So, while each boy has their differences, they both deal with similar issues and have multiple comorbidities. We made the choice medicate them in order to help manage some of the side effects of their brain chemistry differences, to help them be more successful in their lives. In moments of clarity, they used to be so frustrated with themselves, and feel so down on themselves, regretting how they acted earlier, saying that they don’t know why they acted that way, and that they must be bad people. Now, with appropriate medication and therapy, though they still struggle with their issues, they are less intense and easier to deal with, not only for us as parents, but more importantly for them personally. They are not drugged-out zombies who sleep all day or do everything we say. The medication simply takes the intensity off of their ADHD, letting their true personalities shine through. They are much happier with themselves, and the family is, as a whole, too.
Before I became a parent, I had strong opinions but, over many years with many difficult choices, I now have new, more realistic and educated opinions. Choosing to medicate your children is a very tough decision for parents. You doubt yourself. You worry that about doing the right thing. You worry what others might think of your choice. Until, one day, you don’t. At some point, you realize that it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t choose to do. It doesn’t matter what others think. All that matters is that you do what you feel is best for your own children, whom you know best. You no longer judge other parents for their choices because you realize that they are likely doing their best, just like you are for your kids. Each new day brings new challenges. You learn to think differently and keep going.
“You need to give what’s best in you a chance to grow with the right gardener, one who see that you’re a special plant, not a weed.” – Ned Hallowell