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.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

..easier than parenting...

A friends sent me a collection of satirical billboards and in them was one that said "So much easier than parenting...Ritalin."

My first response to that was negative, as I am sure that most people feel when the problems they face in life are discounted by satire.

Ritalin, or any of the drugs used to even the playing field for people who are afflicted by the cluster of conditions grouped under ADD or ADHD, is indeed easier that parenting--as swimming is easier when an intervention removes the rocks from one's pockets. It's makes parenting easier in the same sense that a splint for a broken arm makes parenting a child who has one makes parenting that child easier, in the sense that an anti-biotic or an immunization makes parenting a child easier.

There are children who should not be medicated, who do not suffer from the maladies for which they are medicated, and so a drug regimen is not appropriate or helpful. But two points need to be made:

1. Ritalin is not a drug that "chills" a kid out and makes her easier to deal with, and

2. Ritalin, alone, is rarely effective even with kids suffering ADD or ADHD. In fact, behavioral therapy is the other half of the equation and, if not included, the course if treatment may well not work.

My daughter ran into a classmate this last week who, not knowing her condition, starting spouting what he no doubt heard his parents say over the dinner table--that there is no such thing as ADD or ADHD. And my wife heard a psychologist who works with children "riffing" about how middle class parents are unwilling to accept their children as they are, that they want some of diagnosis and treatment to make their children "better."

I went through about 57 years of my life untreated for ADD, pulling together various behavioral strategies to cope with the condition from self help and time organization books. When I was diagnosed, and given medication, things fell into place.

My daughters, both diagnosed but not having the better part of a life time of experience trying to figure out how to stay on task, how to transition, how to organize and move successfully through this culture, are now on medication and developing those behavioral strategies through a course of therapy, not "hit and miss" as I did. Their school performance, their life in general, is much more productive and happy than it was before the diagnosis and treatment.

"Placebo" said my daughter's class mate, the one who "knows" that there is no such thing as ADD or ADHD.



All you can do is tell the truth, manifest the truth, and wait for everyone else--mostly people who don't have any understanding of the situation except what they might have picked up from a two column inch story in a newspaper or from a professional nay-sayer--to catch up.

And, you know, an inoculation for chicken pox? Yeah--from cows, cow pox. It'll make you grow horns.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Graduation Time

One going to college, one going into high school...


And we all know that transitions are hard for those with the ADD/ADHD, so this last week or so has hit RR, LG and I with challenges.

RR has graduated from high school and is headed for that small Quaker college in North Carolina she wants to attend. It's the only college that she applied for--the ONLY one. Two years ago, at the time of her ADD diagnosis, we were thinking about "a year off" between high school and college for her. But between medication and therapy (aimed at organization and study skills) RR created a record of constantly improving academic improvement (3.5 this last semester) and successfully argued (to that small Quaker college) that this, and her passable entrance exam scores, justified admission despite an overall GPA that didn't make the cut. We were really wondering, two years ago, whether she would every walk across that stage and get a high school diploma and now there she goes...there she to college. College!!!

LG, on the other hand, was "promoted" from middle school to high school last night. LG has the "H" part of the diagnosis--she's ADHD. She is also one of most respected and popular kids in her class--and she's not a "babe." But she has a charisma (and one heck of a volleyball serve) that caused her peers to vote her the Martin Luther King Peacemaker Award last year, and her teachers and staff to vote her the recipient of an award given each year to students on the basis of leadership, academics, attitude, and extra curricular activities. She made the "lead off" speech of the promotion ceremony last night and, at the end, was one of four students who received the award I just described.

I am very pleased with them (I have that Quaker scruple against using the term "pride") but more than that I realize that our recognition of their situation--their condition (which they inherited from me)--has made all the difference in the world for them. I see children whose condition is not recognized and who go untreated, and I see them going slowly down the drain.

There is such a thing as ADD/ADHD, no matter what some people say, and it can be treated. The course of these children's lives will go one way or the other, depending on how their parents and their communities choose to deal with their conditions.

Hey, there is such a thing as ADD/ADHD. And if your children, after professional evaluation, test to be ADD/ADHD then go with the regimen and therapy designed to deal with it. You will be glad you took my advice. Your child's future is at stake.

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.