ADHD is Not a Smokescreen for Poor Parenting
Another poorly researched segment is televised with the inference that ADHD is a ‘made-up’ condition invented by parents to excuse poor parenting, rather than a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Like many parents, I am growing weary of the sensationalism that journalists adopt when they report about ADHD.
I wonder if these journalists ever consider the negative impact that these ill-researched segments have on the outlook for the kids affected and their parents who face a day-to-day struggle to seek funding for support – in order to give these kids the same opportunities as other children.
Segments such as these hinge on the misleading conclusion that most children diagnosed with ‘the ADHD label’ do not have the condition, or that the condition does not in fact exist at all.
For the record, over-diagnosis does not actually mean that a condition does not exist. But where this type of media does succeed, is to belittle the authenticity of a condition that affects millions of children, and to exacerbate the controversy surrounding the use of medication for the condition.
Been there, done that, got the tee shirt – it says, ‘I drug my kid for kicks.’
I hadn’t realized before just how effective a sledgehammer the media is at knocking people down when they are already on the ground begging for help.
Silly, naive me! But then again, I am just a parent.
I wonder if those researchers, (when they obviously bored of Mylie and reverted back to the cheap journalism of taking a pop at someone), actually understand how hard it is to diagnose most mental illnesses, especially when patients don’t display classic physical symptoms?
If they actually considered that if mental illness is that easy to diagnose, murders might be prevented, many of the homeless might not be on the streets, many people who are unable to leave their homes might be able to work and be able to support their families.
It seems that because mentally ill people don’t wear a cast or sit in a wheelchair, they are not ‘ill’ – that if you look ‘normal’, (at least by these journalists’ definition), there’s nothing wrong with you.
Perhaps the name given to the condition, (ADHD), is at the root of the problem. A more authentically scientific name such as Attentiondeficititis might have been more compelling and effective.
Instead of which, scientists chose the symptoms to describe the condition – symptoms that unfortunately reek of ‘bad parenting’.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder probably does sound like some made-up, naughty kid/bad parent disorder to the uninitiated.
So allow me to dispel some myths here with a few pertinent questions:
If all parents of children with ADHD are such terrible parents, how come we have other kids without the condition?
If ADHD doesn’t exist, why are there kids out there, (often undiagnosed), who end up killing themselves from the co-morbidities of the condition, such as anxiety and depression?
How do you explain the results of the scientific research that has been done, (costing millions of dollars around the world), that proves that the condition exists?
Finally, do these journalists really believe that parents are comfortable to medicate their children for no apparent medical reason?
To be honest, you can call ADHD a personality disorder, a condition or an illness – just don’t tell me that my son’s behavior is ‘naughty’, because that upsets me.
I am fully supportive of television programmes that challenge my thoughts and misconceptions and seek to educate, and I do believe that there may well be some evidence of over-diagnosis in this area – because it is not easy to diagnose – but surely it is better to over-diagnose and be able to support the kids who genuinely suffer from the condition, than to undermine the seriousness of its symptoms?
I question keeping my son on medication on a daily basis.
And like most medications, ADHD medications do not come without side effects. As the parent of a child with ADHD you have to weigh up the advantages over the disadvantages – whether to give your child the chance of a normal life or not.
But would I refuse my child Insulin if he were a diabetic? No. Would I refuse to let him wear glasses if he were shortsighted? No.
Medication gives my son a chance at normal development, and a chance of fitting into a society that is persistently resistant to his needs. The side effects of his medication, however, are that he suffers from insomnia, has lost weight and his anxiety is exacerbated.
Yet, if he doesn’t take the medication, he would probably end up on the streets or in a correctional facility, self-medicating. He would become more mentally unstable due to poor self-esteem issues, which often paralyze him and are continually augmented by failing a system that has failed him. Ultimately, he would become a bigger drain on that very system.
Without medication, my child cannot process language quickly enough to follow the social cues of his peers, lessons in class and simple instructions, so he ends up ‘acting-out’ due to frustration and the embarrassment of appearing stupid – behaviors that ultimately lead him to be bullied or ostracized.
These television segments would have you believe that I am the parent of the ‘difficult’ kid in class who took the easy option of trying to normalize my child with drugs.
I am actually the parent with the ‘difficult’ kid who is developmentally disabled by his condition, who has an under-developed part of his brain that makes him impulsive, which leads him to make poor choices. I am the parent of the child who has not developed age-appropriate social skills and so struggles with friendships and relationships – who is consequently confused, leading to mood swings and the disruption of family life.
Because of these issues, my child suffers from depression and anxiety at the age of just sixteen, cuts himself and talks of suicide out of despair.
ADHD might sound like a ‘simplistic, convenient’ label, but it’s all we have to describe a condition that is complicated and hard to diagnose.
I haven’t had my son labeled as a smokescreen to help me ‘parent’ him. I’ve labeled him to get him the help he needs to fit into society, but more importantly, to keep him alive.
Support Group: Northern Beaches ADHD Support Group