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When my ex husband's daughter came to live with us, she came with the lable ADD and was supposed to be taking Ritalin. I absoutely abhorred the idea of medicating a twelve year old so I amde sure I was the perfect parent. I was a stay at home mom, I cooked good nutritious food and sat with her each night to do her homework. Still, every morning, I would have to remind her to take a shower, to brush her teeth, to get dressed etc. If I didn't start remindng her as soon as she got up and keep after her until everything was done, she would miss the bus. And I am not talking about chores, just getting up and getting herself together. At first I just figured that she was not interested in hygeine because her mother wasn't and then I thought that she was just lazy. So I tried harder to find ways to motivate her. I made sure she got up earlier, wwent to bed earlier. I became a food nazi in terms of her nutrition. I spent more time with her on her home work. And I still struggled with her daily. I got calls from school asking where assignments were. I got calls from school to let me know that she had gone with out lunch for two days in a row because she forgot her lunch money etc etc etc. But I still felt that she could be taught to be more responsible and to take better care and pay more attention. I still felt that way up until she moved out of my house at almost 17. She went back to live with her mother and was sent to the Job Corps who did more testing and came back with a diagnosis of ADD. And this girl, who dropped out of highschool, was eventually kicked out of job corps and couldn't hold a job went back on Ritalin one year ago at age 19 and guess what? She went and got her GED and is now finishing her first year of college. Do I feel awful? You bet! So when my son started having problems, with the same attentive parenting that she was getting, (although after she had left the house) I took him through the diagnostic process. The first thing that was brought to my attention was that my sone would stop speaking in mid sentence and begin to whistle. I was also told that in story time, he would get up and wander away from the group. If someone brushed against him in the lunch line, he would burst in to tears and be darn near inconsolable. We started with the pediatrician to see if there was afood allergy or hearing or vision problem. He wasn't showing signs of lead or mercury or asbestos poisoning. And that is when the pediatrician suggested a follow up with a psychologist. I made the appointment with the psychologist and began doing research. I read about ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, Tourette's Syndrome, OCD, SID you name it. And after doing several sessions with the psychologist, getting feed back from teacher's and aides and other family members, the diagnosis of ADHD was made. I went home and cried. I had a follow up with the pediatrician who wanted to start on Concerta but i was too afraid of the medicine to try it. We did research together and found another med that had fewer side effects so we tried it. And you know what, it was amazing to be able to have a conversation with my son and not have him rolling his eyes back into his head, beating on his chest and grunting and whistling. It was wonderful to have him come home excited to tell me of his day and not just say he didn't rememeber what they did in school. And for almost a year, he did great on one medication. His growth was not stunted, he hasn't become mentally ill or any of that. However, about a month ago, he went through a growth spurt and it became very obvious that the medicine wasn't working anymore so we changed medications. The new medication worked even better. He is in kindergarten and doing second grade work whereas previously, he couldn't even sit still long enough to learn to write his name. Now he writes stories. He never had friends before but now, he is surrounded by other children that he adores and that adore him right back. In this whole process, we have continued to work closely with the psychologist and pediatrician and done further testing and learned that in addition to having ADHD, my son is also a high functioning autistic person. I have no doubt in my mind that he is better off for having been put on medication and though I would obviously prefer that he not take meds, I stand behind our decision to do this. Now, this is not to say that it isn't tragic that so many children are medicated. I firmly believe that it is in part, environmental, part biological (whether evolution or DE-evolution who can say) but to say that these various syndromes are all because of bad (or indifferent) parenting or drug company greed is absurd. Stop and look at human beings as a species and you will see that we have become fairly weak and fragile, no one eats right and everyone is at risk for something and so on. The prevalence now of heart disease and cancer and asthma and you name it should indicate that on a global scale, something is going on. And if it seems more prevalent in the US, look at our media for crying out loud!





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