Friday, February 4, 2011

Overcoming misconceptions

One of the hardest things about dealing with the ADHD and ODD is people's misconceptions about the disorder.  There are quite a number of people that believe that it doesn't actually exist and it's just something that doctors label children with so parents don't have to discipline their bratty children.  To them I say: come visit my house for a week.  You'll want to go home after a day.

There are others who believe that, while it does exist, those parents that choose to medicate their child are actually doing their child a disservice and are using medications to cover up their failure as a parent.  To them I say: an actual disorder is not a parenting fail, and would you tell the parent of a child with diabetes, epilepsy or asthma to deny their child medication or they'd be a parenting failure as well?  Our children who truly have these disorders often need medication help in order to function in the world - in the classroom, on the playground, at home.  If you don't believe that, come live our lives for a little while; you'll probably change your tune.  And comments from parents of now-grown children who had either of these disorders of "well my kid acted like that and I didn't medicate him.  He'll (meaning Hassaan) be fine" also do. not. help.  In fact, these comments in particular are very destructive when I have a husband who waffles on the medication issue.  You did what you thought best for your child.  I will do what I feel best for my child - and for my child, medication combined with therapy IS the best option for him to be as successful in life as he is capable of being.

Some say "it can't be that - my friend/family member/kid down the street doesn't act like that and he's got that."  Well, no two kids are necessarily affected the same way.  ADHD/ADD is as much a spectrum disorder as Autism is.  My son is affected by not being able to focus unless he is almost obsessed by something, he talks constantly, he is never still, he has a very hard time with social skills.  But then there's me.  In college, while doing learning disabilities testing with the college psychologist, I was diagnosed with mild to moderate ADD.  I zone out, I do talk a lot, but I'm able to sit still and have never had a problem with social skills.  But I also can't always focus for things for very long but instead of bouncing off walls (figuratively, mostly!) I'd just zone out, so that my teachers just figured I wasn't paying attention - all the time.  But I also have so many half finished projects it's not even funny anymore.  I have obsessions that lasted for an amount of time and then I now haven't touched in years.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder are something that are very, very real. For those of us dealing with it on a daily basis, the hardest part is sometimes the looks (and COMMENTS) that we get when our child has a meltdown in public.  With Hassaan, I know that if I were to leave a store every time he had a meltdown, there would be days or weeks where I'd never get anything accomplished.  In the grocery store I have to put him in the cart still - he himself knows that he does better in the cart - he's not constantly touching things, running away, and I'm not constantly saying "Hassaan, don't do that!"  I have had to take him through the grocery store with him screaming.  Not screaming words, just screaming.  And I don't always know what sets him off.  But a complete strangers making comments about "controlling my child" or "I would have never let my child at that way" or "oh just give him what he wants" are NOT helpful.  (I often wish I could be or could have been around when these people's children threw a public temper tantrum to make these comments back at them - I highly doubt it would be appreciated, but they see no problem in saying them to other people.)  I'd also really wish these people could remember that, guess what - our children have ears too.  And usually their ears work just as well as mine or yours, and they hear these comments.  Our ADHD kids often have problems with self esteem - these comments aren't helpful to this either.

Anyway, that's my Public Service Announcement for today.  I'll probably have more to add to it at some point, but for today, that's just what's on my mind!

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