My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder and then, at the age of 57, so was I. A lifetime of struggle was placed into a context that made sense of a lot of failure and frustration. This blog documents and celebrates what has happened to me since.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

So far, Dear Diary, so good.

One of my daughters told me last night that she remembers things better when she is "on" her medication.

That bothered me because I am always concerned about dependence, here. Kurt Vonnegut once characterized things as "strong stuff" and this medication is. It not only has the effects that make it an effective therapy for ADD (or in her case ADHD) but it also has the effect of creating a feeling of well being and confidence.

It's "speed," after all.

But sitting here this morning and thinking it over I realize that it would make perfect sense that her retention would be better if she took in information "under the influence," and that is, indeed, one of the reasons she takes it (and I, and her sister take it, as well).

I also realize, again, how remarkable this 13 year old child's brain is. She is an accurate observer of her own situation in many ways and this is one more example of that. Insight into oneself--and what is going on around one--is a gift that so many people are lacking in a sufficient measure to avoid creating problems for themselves.

She has noticed that her medication "peps her up" (and creates that feeling of well being) but also that it gives her more control over her behavior and actually calms her down. That's a pretty common thing for people taking such medication--and not abusing it--to see. More subtle, I think, and not so obvious to perceive is the result of the changes in the way that information is taken in and processed as a result of the medication.

She doesn't have a grasp of the "mechanics" of that, of course--but she sees the result, she notices the difference in, among other things, her memory.

This daughter has been taking medication for a year or so; my other daughter and I are coming up on two years of this "experiment." I have been wary this whole time because I know from personal and professional experience how strong the temptation can be to abuse such drugs--to use them simply to make oneself feel good. It's still actually quite tempting to me to take an extra pill when facing a particularly difficult day.

But so far no such problem has arisen (and the pill counts don't lie).

So far the results have been dramatic, for all three of us, and positive. People have noticed improved performance in all three of us and there is hard evidence to back that up--quite aside from any delusions rooted in feelings of well being induced by the medication itself.

So far, Dear Diary, so good.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Friend in need...

My daughter has a friend at school who is ADD. At least, that's our diagnosis and, as they say, it takes one to know one.

But it's not just us. Her family doctor has also suggested following up on his impressions with the normal kinds of screenings. But although this junior in high school is failing her mother--who is, using the clinical term, a mess--refuses to accept any explanation for her daughter's hard times except that she is stupid.

After needlessly explaining to my daughter that giving her friend any of her own medication would be distribution of a controlled substance, and, in Oregon, doing so within 1000 feet of a school, which makes it more serious, I suggested that her friend go to the school clinic. Because she is older than 14 she can consent to her own medical treatment in Oregon. But she cannot afford the cost of medication ($125 per month, or so, if one is not covered for prescriptions on a medical plan). It was my hope that the school clinic would refer her somewhere that could perhaps tap into her mother's coverage, somehow and get it done.

But the school clinic nurse was a man who accused her of drug seeking, said she was "just" depressed, and who wouldn't like to have a little "performance enhancement." He sent her on her way.

By the way, after a D in AP history first semester my daughter got an A this semester because she not only had medication for her ADD but she had structure and therapy designed at teacher her organizational and study skills. I'm glad no one sent her on her way when her way was not promising.

How many kids are out there right now spinning out of control and desperate to figure out how to get out of that dervish dance of failure? And how many parents ... how many school nurses ...

About Me

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I am a convinced Beanite Friend, a member of Bridge City Friends Meeting, Willamette Quarterly Meeting and North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Notwithstanding the doubts of some who claim the name, I am a Christian who does a Buddhist practice and believes that God talks to everyone, all the time. I have worked in the judicial branch of government, as well as being a trial lawyer, a public school teacher (counselor and coach), a kite merchant, and a Marine Corp Sergeant. I am currently working as a consultant to public and private agencies on issues of child welfare, juvenile justice, and substance abuse treatment courts.