Most people’s reactions to kids running around, jumping up and down, and an innate inability to stand still is that they were not disciplined. My son has these symptoms and much more. But he is the most loving child and very obedient most of the time. Yes, he is 4 years old and yes, he is still a child so he will have his moments. However, we do have structure and order in our family. You will find that most families with kids diagnosed as ADHD and have parents that are involved in their lives will have much more structure than the average family. We have to for our own sanity. Structure and order help us to make it through the day and gives our child stability.
My biggest pet peeve is being judged by people who don’t understand the day to day challenges of trying to get your child to focus on one activity. Even getting up and getting dressed takes forever because he has to tell me something about his toys or what he did with daddy or even what he wants for breakfast. Keep in mind that he is also running from room to room, up and down the stairs and jumping on your bed while telling you this and neglecting going to the potty, changing clothes and anything else that’s part of the morning routine. Unless you are taking his hand and literally walking him through everything, it won’t happen quickly. Even then, it still takes an hour to finish.
I have been told that we don’t have strict enough rules, that he is unruly, that he misbehaves, etc. What they don’t see is a little boy desperately trying to fit in and struggling to slow his brain down long enough to focus. He does try so hard and it is frustrating to see people take his actions out of the context of his life. He is not medicated and we are trying to keep it that way. Sometimes the side effects are worse than not having it at all. But there are some children who greatly benefit from drug treatment. A responsible doctor will always try to go without at first and then if that doesn’t work, they will slowly adjust the medicine dosage.
A recent article in Psychology Today compares French children with American Children in that the American children are over diagnosed and overmedicated. I think the data to support this theory is lacking as there haven’t been any thorough studies. What isn’t considered is that there are more people in the US than France so naturally the rate will be higher! The claim that it is more a social issue and a family structure issue doesn’t take into consideration that you can’t generalize a child or ADHD. There are different kinds and different kids with different learning styles. And you also have to consider that since it is genetic, someone else in the family might have it without the necessary tools to navigate it themselves successfully. Yes, the US probably over diagnoses, but sometimes you have to in order to obtain the services and support systems your child needs. Our health insurance covers nothing that can support him as he tries to navigate his daily life. Even things his developmental pediatrician recommends aren’t covered. These therapies often cost thousands of dollars that we have to fund 100 percent while the insurance company will pay for a little pill or two because in the short term it is cheaper.
As the mandated healthcare bill proceeds to be implemented, you will probably see more and more of these things being denied. What the author of the article fails to mention is that they have a healthcare system that provides these services, but that system is so flawed that someone who has a serious illness will have to wait months to have life-saving surgery. At least in the US you can go somewhere else if there is a wait for surgery. You can’t compare us to other countries as our system of care is drastically different. It’s really sad that children with ADHD aren’t provided enough coping skills. Our schools are so taxed with being able to service so many children effectively with less and less money, supplies, and teachers that sometimes kids with ADHD are left in the dust because they don’t qualify for traditional services for special needs children.
It falls back to the parents to navigate insurance, doctors, schools and daily challenges when there are no support systems in place. You will always have those naysayers and outsiders who don’t see the “big picture” often say mean and hurtful things about you, your child or even the way you parent. Sometimes you just have to move on and choose not to be around those that won’t support you. Even family members sometimes need less time with your child just so their attitude doesn’t affect your child’s progress. It’s rough and there are no guidebooks to handling these types of people. Just remember that you aren’t alone and you have an awesome child!