A number of factors need to be considered when you are told that your child is ADD/HD. The first thing you want to do is to understand all you can about ADD/HD. You also want to sit down and list what it means for your child, as a unique individual being, to be ADD/HD. Remember that this diagnosis is observational in nature.
If your child is ADD/HD, then your child was born ADD/HD. What has happened that has made it need to be labeled now? What were the stops along way that led from high energy, curious, creative and bright to disabled? Start a journal about your child, ask for observations, especially from the people who are around your child when you are not.
Ask yourself and other key people in your child’s life questions like: Are there times of day, days of the weeks, or certain situations which seem to trigger the child? Keep a food log and keep track as much as possible of what your child is eating. Are their certain foods that cause spikes and crashes? Or certain foods that lead to acting out or melting down? How about certain situations or people? Did the child have a year at school, or experience at camp where their behavior seemed to go to unmanageable? Were there major shifts in your child’s world such as living situations, acquiring or loss of a close friend or family member?
Talk with your child and have them tell you as much about their days as possible and compare it with what other people experienced of them that day. See where they may be making incorrect assumptions or did not understand the larger picture of what was going on in a certain situation.
Keep in mind that all very bright children have a great deal going on in their head and are impatient to learn, to understand, and will disconnect when bored.
If teachers or other people are strongly pushing the idea that your child is ADD/HD, ask them to be as specific as possible as to why. In order to gain a better understanding of what is going on, enlist them in getting the answers to the questions you are keeping track of. Also, ask what they think the solutions are if your child is ADD/HD. If they want to move to a drug based solution, make sure you are clear if there are benefits for them to have your child drugged and easier to manage.
Maybe your child is gifted with ADD/HD, so what you want to stay clear on is: When did that gift become an unmanageable problem, and will medication solve problems or mask them? First, remember that many factors are going on in your child’s life which could lead to a request for an official diagnosis and a recommendation of medication, and that in medicating, those factors will easily get lost because the medication seems to solve all the problems.
As you draw the picture of your child and your child’s relationship with an ADD/HD diagnosis, start shifting things and see how they shift the issues. Begin with diet, then look at what shifts can be made in the environment. Would smaller classrooms, more interactive educational methods and more challenging curriculum keep your child more focused and moving at a faster, more engaged pace that would both better serve your child’s learning, growth, and development, as well as, eliminate request for labeling or medication?
Keep the following things in mind if a diagnosis of ADD/HD is in the air:
Issues may be caused or exacerbated by diet, environmental, emotional, mental, even undetected physiological factors.
Second, if medicating, what are the short and long term side effects to the mental, emotional and physical well being of your child? Will this label serve them or hold them back?
Third, is the child being held responsible for situations where the failure is not theirs? Is their “failure” on account of an educational system that doesn’t know how to work with these children? Are teachers or other education or care providers ill equipped to provide what your child needs to fly and to flourish? I want to make it clear when I say “ill equipped,” it could be that the primary adults involved are ill suited, or that the situation which they are forced to function is incapable of providing the needed environment. But what I also want to make very clear here is that if we are medicating your child, or any child, because of the failure to properly provide the teachers, the classrooms, the resources needed, and that if they were all in place that a child would not have to be medicated, then medicating is morally reprehensible and we must examine our priorities in this country.
Or is the need to medicate them because we do not offer the support, education and resources to the family unit? Are we medicating them because the family can not or does not know what a bad diet is, or how to give these children the support they need? Or because the information is controlled by groups, institutions, and business who do not have the best interest of your child at hand? Do parents make the choice to medicate their child because of the one sided information that they are given, or are they coerced or manipulated into feeling that this is the only course of acting when in fact it is not? Is it made too easy in this chaotic, sped up, crazy world to convince yourself (to be convinced) that the quick fix is the right one. In other words, that a happy meal and pill is good parenting,
Lastly, dig past the top layer of information if you really want to know. Plenty of information is available on the internet. What you will often come across first is the controlled information. There are number of studies and evidence that on the surface support ADD/HD as a disability diagnosis and say that medication is the primary option. Large non-profit groups who serve this issue that are underwritten by the drug companies that manufacture it. But when you dig deeper, the evidence is not so clear or conclusive. The parts of the studies that question medicating as a viable option are often left out. We hear about the brain scans, but we only hear half a story. We don’t hear at all about the studies that have discovered alarming concerns about medicating these children because they are buried by the information provided by supporters of the pharmaceutical companies, and you have to dig deeper to find them.
Along the way you will also find any number of all natural one stop shopping wonders that claim to cure ADD/HD, and you should be just as wary of them. You need to have a whole child understanding, create whole child solutions and make sure that they represent the unique child that is yours. No quick fixes, no one size fits all approaches. And if everything I’ve said so far hasn’t made your head spin fast enough, I don’t see AD/HD as a disability, something one needs to get cured from or outgrow. It is part of an evolutionary process. These children and adults have a diff-ability, not a disability, they learn and process differently, they are not less able. In fact, they are often more able when they are set up to succeed, and not fail.
The question is: how do you want to best support your child? To fit in – or to be who they are, and be all they can be?