Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ADHD, anyone??

Recently, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD--not a big surprise, as we've sort of thought she was ADHD all along. It was very hard to diagnose her, because she doesn't have any of the things that frequently accompnay it--learning disabilities, oppositional disorders, etc. In fact, she's an excellent student, very compliant, and very, very bright. She was one of those babies that was speaking in complete, sophisticated sentences by twelve months, reading by age three...you know the type. But she was also constantly in motion, like a little wind-up toy that just never stops. She talks all the time, and loudly. Is distracted. Loses things. Has to be reminded several times to finish a simple task (even getting dressed!). She's also impulsive, blurting things out in school, touching everything, distracting those around her.

Each day is a struggle for her, and she feels badly about it--she really wants to please her teachers/parents, to 'be good.' But sometimes she just can't. And when she is able to keep herself together and focused, it's totally exhausting and draining. That's not fun, for a kid. To have to work that hard, just to keep your impulses under control. Her self esteem should be soaring--she's smart, funny, interesting, and a real leader. Instead, her self esteem suffers daily, because she feels 'different,' as if something 'isn't right' with her.

The past few weeks have been filled with evaluations, testing, interviews, and consultations. And the long and short of it, she does fit the profile for ADHD--quite strongly, actually--and the only proven treatment, they claim, is medication.

Which, frankly, frightens me. My husband, particularly, is anti-medication--the guy has to be almost completely incapacitated before he'll break down and take cold medicine or even simple pain relievers. He's researched several 'alternative' treatments, though, and while some seem interesting, like biofeedback, none have actually been proven effective.

So...today we walked out of the neuro-psychiatrist/pharmacologist's office with a prescription in hand, but I have to say, I'm still feeling totally freaked out about the whole idea. Granted, these meds have been around a long time and have been proven safe with no-long term affects. In theory, that sounds great. But this is MY kid we're talking about.

Anyone have any experience with a child/friend's child/relative with ADHD? If so, was the child put on medication? How did it work out? Any stories to help me feel better about this decision?


Lois said...

I never knew anyone, but in the end, you can always go to another doctor for a second opinion, see what they say and if they agree and all. I live in a house where we pretty much don't go for doctors or medicine unless needed, but if it's something that they feel is really needed by her, then you have to try it. :)


Wendy Roberts said...

It's such a difficult, and personal, decision to make! You didn't say how old your daughter is but my first reaction is to ask HER how she feels about it. A good friend has a daughter with ADHD and she was 9 when she was diagnosed. The explained the options to her and gave her the choice of going on meds. She decided not but 6 months later changed her mind. She said that being on the meds reminded her of when she first got her glasses because, suddenly, everything was clearer. Hugs on your decision. At least your daughter knows she's loved and that's the most important thing!

Sally MacKenzie said...

Hugs, Kristi. I think I've told you before, but I'll share two stories.

First, a friend of mine--a nurse--was always told her daughter was fine, because the girl wasn't hyperactive, so she wasn't a problem in school. But my friend KNEW something was wrong. Finally, when the girl was in high school and suicidal, she took her for help. She was diagnosed as ADD. The first day on the meds, the daughter came home and said, hey, I didn't notice the ticking of the wall clock in class today. I haven't kept up with the family--the daughter is probably now in her thirties--but at that time the meds made a big difference.

Second story--another friend had an ADHD son she put on meds. Some people looked at her as if she were doing something bad. She pointed out that no one would fault her if her son was a diabetic and she put him on insulin--in fact, if she didn't, she'd probably have social services at her door. Yes, I know, a bit different as type I diabetics need insulin to live. But her theory was that the cases are the same in that if a child can't manufacture some hormone or other chemical he needs so you provide it.

Still, it's a tough choice.

Kristina Cook said...

Thanks for all the encouragement, ladies! To answer questions, she's 7, but she's really been kept in the loop about what's going on. She even sat in with us today while the doctor discussed all the pros/cons/possible side affects of meds. I think given the choice of taking something that might make things easier for her or not, she'd definitely opt to try. And this is actually the THIRD doc we've spoken with--two pyschologists and a pyschiatrist, and all three have made the exact same diagnosis/recommendation, so....

Ack, I still hate it.

A mom said...

You are right to be concerned! I would never, ever under any circumstances put a developing child on any kind of psychotropic drug for the imaginary diagnosis of "ADD" or "ADHD."
Drug companies are making a killing - and there are terrible side effects from these drugs, which are stimulants related to Cocaine.
PLEASE do some research into the over-medication of our children:
THE best information is available at the Alliance for Human Research Protection. I promise you this is a highly respected source of infomation.
One dad's account of his 14 year-old son's ultimate death from Ritalin:

This is not a decision to be taken lightly. PLEASE know and understand that psychiatrists can't even decide amongst themselves how to diagnose children. It is highly subjective, based on behaviors that children typically exhibit at any stage in life.
Another GREAT source of information is Dr. Karen Effrem and EdWatch. Google her name and/or Edwatch. PLEASE educate yourself before putting your child on any drug. It is worth your effort.