Monday, 11 November 2019

Is ADHD over prescribed?

Lately I have seen a lot of people commenting on posts in response to moms/ parents facing a new ADHD diagnosis for their children, for the most part the responses are positive filled with tips and supports from other moms and parents who have traveled what can be a very daunting road with their own children, however there are often many posts especially of late admonishing the parent in question for choosing to go down the road of medicating their child, telling them that ADHD is over prescribed or better yet that it doesn’t exist.

As a parent who has been down this road I can tell you that ADHD is indeed very real for both the parent and family in question, on the note of it being over prescribed though I do actually agree although maybe not in the same way that the posters intentions come across.

You see as real as it is ADHD has blown up as far as a form of diagnosis is concerned and whilst I would factor in that times have changed and that we live in a time where people are not only more aware of the symptoms and issues that come with a child who has ADHD, our food and all the hormones that they pump into it is also something I believe plays a huge role as well as the change in environment and structure in our children’s lives today where there is less free play encouragement at schools and our children are often tied to a host of overstimulating technological devices throughout their daily living, taking this all into account I do still agree that it is a diagnosis that often is too easily and overly diagnosed or suggested as a diagnosis factoring in that our teachers and schools are over prescribed and overburdened with admin and that one teacher is forced to cope with up to 40 or more children on their own- if your child is not able to cope or function within difficult and often emotionally taxing situations- they are ADHD, ADHD symptoms and behaviours can often tie into other disorders that look like ADHD but aren’t as well so often a diagnosis of ADHD is quickly made without a second opinion or a consideration of other options.

Now getting an assessment and diagnosis is expensive I get it so I understand, I also understand that as a ‘normal every day Joe’ you want to trust that the person who has studied for a number of years that you are paying a small fortune to knows what they are doing.

My advice to all parents who are concerned or have been pushed to get an evaluation by your child’s school; ALWAYS:

-        - Do your research, make sure that you are comfortable with the professional that you choose, do not be afraid to ask around to see how other parents have fared with the professional in question.

-        -  If you are unsure of the diagnosis, the assessment, the report or even the professional (post               assessment), get a second opinion!

-         - Run through all the options post diagnosis and don’t be afraid to go home and do your research first before making a decision.

-        -Try everything else you can before meds- involve your child in extra murals, create a structured daily routine, remove excess technology, change their diet, talk to your child and ascertain how they feel sometimes how they feel can help you ascertain if the issue is something within their environment or if it is actually something that can be diagnosed as a learning disorder, also have your child’s eyes and ears checked to make sure that there are no issues there that could be causing an issue.

Gabriel started grade R on a good footing but he struggled to sit still, was often incredibly needy and emotional, he rocked, he made noises constantly and although academically he was doing well we were a bit concerned as was his teacher about his behavior, we even asked that he be kept back in order to ensure that when he got to grade 1 he was as emotionally prepared and ready as he possibly could be- his birthday falls mid-December so it is not uncommon for Children at the younger side of the year to struggle a bit especially emotionally and I have met many older parents who chose to keep their children back because of this.  Unfortunately our request/ suggestion was denied by the school because he was academically strong and he went through to grade 1, of course the issue didn’t stop and eventually it was suggested that a government/ department appointed psychologist come in to do an evaluation.

The evaluation spanned 3 hours after which Gabriel was an emotional mess, he had asked to take a break half way through and he was denied and of course the evaluation ended in an ADHD diagnosis which I did not agree with AT ALL, the school of course once they had this diagnosis would not hear any other which way about it and insisted we put him onto medication, eventually we chose to remove Gabriel from the school as the school had unfortunately started on the same route as they had with Loghan where I was called for everything and I had to collect or keep him home so many times for something ridiculous it just became to much and I couldn’t see us mentally coping with that road again.

It has not been 3 years and Gabriel has been medication free for all this time, he currently attends a school that leaves the decision up to you as a parent and embraces your child and encourages them rather than forcing them to conform to one learning strategy and way of expressing themselves and their emotions. Having said this if your child needs medication to cope or be their best self then do not remove their medication, if a person has diabetes you would not deny them their insulin.

Over these past 3 years I have come to the realization that we were right and Gabriel’s issue is not ADHD but rather that he struggles or has issues with sensory processing. He is incredibly sensory seeking hence why he always wants to move, always makes noises, is always in motion and loves touching and feeling everything, its why he sucks his thumb and hangs onto objects that have a certain feel to them at the same time when he is tired or overwhelmed he will close his ears to the noise around him and will seek out a quiet place with no one around him, he also more often than not needs an afternoon nap particularly when he has done a lot during that day or the classroom has been particularly active or noisy.

Since coming to this realization and approaching his behaviors from this point we have managed to get a handle on his behavior and emotions (for the most part) much quicker and easier where we can walk away calm rather than ending up with a meltdown.

You can never do enough research, listen to your instinct, although I will agree that a teacher has your child in the care for a good amount of time and that they can often pick up on things or see things that we don’t always see or see as an ‘issue’, no one knows your child like you do and it is up to you to ensure that you do as much research as you possibly can and that you make a decision that allows them to be their best self and achieve to their greatest capacity while remaining emotionally fulfilled and whole.

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