**I initially started this page back in 1996. A lot has happened in our lives since then, and its time for an update. If you have already visited the site before, click here to read the update**
I've decided to add this section to my page, because I have found that many parents are misinformed about ADHD. I would like to give you some of our personal experiences in dealing with the diagnoses and treatment for our son Jonathan, in hopes that it will help if you have a child that you suspect might have the disorder.
When I was pregnant with Jonathan, everything seemed to be normal until seven months of gestation. At that time, I felt him move and kick at an alarming rate, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Then starting at eight months, the kicking got so severe that I was finding myself trying to push him down constantly because of him bruising my ribs. It was my first pregnancy so I assumed this was natural. Jonathan was overdue, and after 12 hours of induced labor, he was delivered by C-section. After he was born, it was apparent that this child had a lot of energy and strength for being a new born. He would kick his way up to the headboard of the bassinet in the hospital, and would raise his head without difficulty. At the age of 3 weeks, he was already crawling, but unable to lift his head to do so, and would drag his head along the bed. He continued to do this until he was 3 months old, when he was able to crawl lifting his head. Bt the age of 4 months, he was able to stand up holding on to furniture and walk along the couch. Of course his balance wasn't good because of his tender age, and was falling a lot. It didn't matter to him, he wouldn't cry....just get up and do it again!
At the age of 3 ½ I decided to enroll him in preschool. It was obvious he needed to be surrounded by other children and be in a structured environment. When he was almost 4, I became pregnant with our second child. The hyperactivity started to get really bad, and I knew in my heart that this child was having a hyperactivity problem. We took him to a phycologist, who had given us a questionnaire to fill out. Independently my husband, myself and the preschool teacher had to fill one out. Little did I know at the time, that the owner of the preschool was totally against children taking ritalin, so she took it upon herself to tell the teacher that she couldn't put anything negative on their questionnaire, despite the fact that the teacher repeatedly told her that Jonathan did in fact have certain of this behaviors while being in class. Consequently, when it was time to meet with the phycologist, he put our questionnaires together and told us that Jonathan was just an energetic child because he only had problems in the home and not at school, therefore the problem was "ours" and not his. He told us to go to parenting classes and sent us on our way. I have never been so upset. We had basically been told that we didn't know how to discipline our child.
When Jonathan started 1st grade, his teacher pointed out to me that he had the classic signs of ADHD and urged me to have him re-evaluated. So I went on her recommendation, and this time we had all the questionnaires filled out correctly and accurately. The phsycologist plotted the results on a graph, interviewed my husband and I alone, and then with just Jonathan. After he was done he told us that there was absolutely no doubt and that he showed 11 out of 12 symptoms of the disorder. He then recommended us see a Developmental Pediatrician who would talk to us about medication and treatment. It was a very tough decision for us since we had already heard so many bad things about Ritalin. So I decided to find out everything I could about the medication and talk to other parents who's children were on it. By this time our marriage was suffering and Jonathan's was falling behind on his grades. I knew I had to do what was best. When we met the doctor she gave us all the information on the Ritalin and we decided to give it a try. It was the best thing we ever did for Jonathan. He was put on Ritalin and we were all sent to councelling to help us deal with his ADHD. He was approved for an IEP and goes to recource classes four times a week. Today he is an honor student that is able to excel in school and anything that he sets his mind on. By the way, you may ask yourself why your child can sit still through a good movie or play a long game of nintendo. This is the best way I can explain it. ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the attention part of the brain. Whenever they are doing something that sparks thier interest, the chemicals start changing and they are able to remain focused. Also, please don't forget that your ADHD child might be entitled to Special Education programs. Check every venue you have and try and get the best treatment and education plan for your child. Know your child's rights protected by the law. Now I will give you the main symptoms of ADHD.failing to give close attention to details or making careless mistakes
difficulty sustaining attention
appearing not to listen when spoken to directly
not following through on instructions and failing to complete tasks
avoiding, or not liking, tasks that require sustained mental effort
losing things necessary for tasks
being easily distracted
leaving your seat in situations where remaining in seat is expected
feelings of restlessness or excessive activity
difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
feeling as if "driven by a motor"
blurting out answers before questions have been completed
impatience - or difficulty waiting
interrupting others in activities or conversation
The untreated ADHD child wonders confusedly "Why is everyone always angry with me?" "Why am I always in trouble?" "What's wrong with me?" He doesn't mean to break or ruin things--she doesn't deliberately disobey or ignore instructions. Constant movement, insatiable exploration, and single-minded focus on one subject almost inevitably elicit negative reactions from most people around the child with ADHD, and if untreated, the course of that child's life can be depicted fairly accurately. Constant disapproval and resulting rejection can contribute to the child's sense of danger and fear of abandonment--resulting in a constant state of hyperarousal to protect oneself from harm. While serving the purpose of protecting for survival, constant hyperarousal can lead to the development of chronic somatic problems such as ulcers, soft-tissue rheumatism, and debilitating headaches. There is an educational cost levied to the child with ADHD: difficulty in following instructions and some difficulty in motor control can negatively affect a child's performance in school and thus contribute to a lessened interest in schoolwork, gaps in learning, and a growing sense of being slow or dumb. Where once there was insatiable curiosity--now there might be lethargic disinterest because of previous failures or disapproval and lack of acceptance. An emotional cost is evident as well. A sense of being bad, of not measuring up, of not being acceptable, of not belonging can all lead to depression, a fragmented self-identity, self-protective shutdown of emotion, addictive behaviors, and in some cases excessive and harmful antisocial behaviors. A further painful adjunct to ADHD is the resulting cost in social interactions. An inability to read others' reactions to moderate one's interactions appropriately can result in social distancing by others. Inappropriate comments, actions, and behaviors create further distancing. Repeated withdrawal by others augments the emotional sense of being flawed in some way and enhances the loneliness that a person with ADHD endures. As the ADHD child becomes an adolescent or adult, the accrual of losses in health, education, self esteem, identity, and social interactions can be staggeringly painful. So much pain--so much lost opportunity--so much unnecessary waste. Unnecessary, because there is positive effective treatment for ADHD:
- a) careful monitoring of medication (predominantly stimulant medication);
- b) psychotherapy to deal with endured losses and grief; and
- c) behavior modification for training in social skills, study and organization skills, and problem-solving skills.
- These three components working together comprise an effective blueprint for moderating brain chemistry, healing of debilitating accrued emotional pain, and remediation of educational, learning, and social deficits. With these components at work, the person with ADHD can function at a high level, can access the high intelligence usually present, and can explore and develop previously repressed or discounted creativity. With these factors present, the person with ADHD has the opportunity to harness his or her mental and creative abilities; to learn about self and to value who he/she is; and to develop into a fully-functioning, life-experiencing, socially-competent, self-appreciating, self-actualizing individual--high possibilities indeed and well worth the investment in time, thought, and expense. The potential for being in control of one's ADHD symptoms, for harnessing one's unique creativity and strengths, and for enjoying and appreciating one's unique personality and identity is exciting and possible--it can be achieved!