Anyhoo, as Mel said, I mentioned at the Conference that one of the biggest hurdles in ADHDer and ADHDer parent’s lives is the general public’s VERY narrow view of ADHD and its treatment, as well as Ritalin’s* horrible reputation. I have said as much to other ADHDer parents and teachers on occasion, and I’m going to say it even more!
Something I’ve noticed a lot as an ADHDer parent; is that the criticism and “bad press” comes mostly from people who aren’t even parents, let alone people who are or have to deal with ADHDers! It never ceases to astound me that the general public claims to know more about Ritalin than all the doctors** I’ve spoken to! I try to be patient and not point out the obvious too harshly, but I also pay as much attention as I paid for their opinions and advice.
Like any other parent whose child is diagnosed as an ADHDer, I was hesitant to put Damien on any kind of medication- and at the time Ritalin was the only one I knew about. It took me 6 years to find a doctor who could treat Damien’s ADHD properly, and this is vital- ADHDer parents take note- if your doctor is not making any kind of difference in your and your ADHDers life, find another doctor! I was thinking the other day that maybe I should go through my files and make a list of the people we’ve seen since Damien was diagnosed… but I don’t have the energy! Let’s just say I’ve lost count. We’ve been with his current doctor for just over 4 years and we’ve been seeing our psychologist for 18 months. I like them both- and I’m very particular and very easily annoyed! I’ve had doctors and teachers talk down to me for years and I’ve had to try and learn to inform them rather than get annoyed. It took me forever to register that teachers telling me Damien had a problem were not their pointing a finger at me and my parenting, but their being concerned for my son!
So- back to the meds…
When I eventually found Damien’s current doctor, he diagnosed Damien again+ and immediately recommended medication. I frowned. I cringed. I sighed. But I was at the end of my tether and frankly I was out of tears, and out of options. What reassured (and surprised) me was that this doctor wanted to focus on Damien’s self esteem first, rather than on his behaviour and school performance. So I went home and filled the prescription and started medicating Damien the next day, and frankly, I was blown away! The change in Damien was phenomenal! Within less than a week his teachers were commenting on how much better he was coping at school! And this was just on a “start-up” dose. I say “start-up” because we went through a month long adjustment process to find the perfect dose for Damien using feedback from myself and three of his teachers that I could GRAPH. I was astounded, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not finding a better clued up doctor (in terms of ADHD++) before Damien was 12 years old!
Now, let me re-iterate. To put it plainly, I am not a doctor and I am not wearing blinkers or rose-tinted glasses. Medication is essentially a “quick fix” and ONLY helps the ADHDer get through the day and get through school. It can NOT cure ADHD as it is a lifelong condition and needs lifelong treatment. But the positive impact on an ADHDers self esteem and his general outlook and his relationships with others when his day to day life is easier- just can not be put into adequate words.
I could go on and on and on and on… but I’ll put up a few posts about it instead!
So, at the risk of rattling off a bunch of platitudes that you’ve probably heard before… Ritalin is NOT addictive and Ritalin is NOT cocaine based. And when you read the horror stories in the tabloids- remember that bad news sells. And just a quick warning for ADHDer parents starting their journey- if you Google Ritalin enough, you will find a lot of sites dedicated to the stuff, and you will find some scary ass sites too. And I’m not going to link or mention them because I don’t want to punt them at all… But rest assured that after more than 30 years on the market, Ritalin has been proven safe for most users- and I say most because like any other medication on the planet, for any illness, not everyone reacts to meds the same way.
And I WILL be posting more on this subject.
*let me stress- there are a lot of medications available for treating ADHD, and there are lots of types of AD/HD, however- I’m not going to go into detail here- I’ll use “Ritalin” to cover meds in general
**I’m using the word “doctor” to cover the entire spectrum of general practitioners/ neurologists/ psychologists/ speech therapists/ occupational therapists/ psychiatrists/ paediatricians and any combination of them all
+every single doctor will do this if you change doctors- just accept it and get on with it
++I’ll try and go into a little more detail about the diagnosis process in a later post… as a layperson obviously!