You are viewing adults_add

Previous Entry | Next Entry

On the importance of ADHD diagnosis

(Cross-posted from my personal journal.)

I wrote this as a comment on a blog in response to a woman who is homeschooling her son and is pretty sure he has ADHD. She hasn't sought a diagnosis for him, probably because she is able to meet his educational needs through homeschooling rather than making him sit down in a classroom for several hours a day. I'm reposting it here for posterity, and because I think it's important information:

Speaking as someone with severe ADHD that wasn't diagnosed until my 20s, I REALLY REALLY REALLY encourage you to pursue a diagnosis for your son even if you do not put him in school. When people grow up with undiagnosed ADHD, they learn from society that their problem behaviours are due to character flaws--as one popular book on ADHD puts it, that they are lazy, stupid, or crazy. Most of the adults in an undiagnosed ADHD child's life usually communicate this to them--you're probably not doing so to your son, since you know what's going on with him and try to work with his brain rather than against it, but any other adults your son encounters probably will. ADHD traits annoy authority figures, and are generally perceived as originating from lack of effort. Most people, when they see a person who is late all the time, doesn't remember things, and can't pay attention, don't think the person has ADHD. They think "Oh, that person doesn't care about what they're doing." That is how people will likely react to your son unless he gets a diagnosis.

Most people with undiagnosed ADHD end up with very low self-esteem, along with other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, by adulthood as a result. A diagnosis is a godsend for them, because they finally figure out that no, they couldn't have made all their problems go away if only they'd tried harder, so they don't need to hate themselves for not trying hard enough. However, it is very difficult to undo the effects of all the derogatory messages they have gotten from society for so many years, especially since anxiety and a failure to understand one's own limitations can worsen ADHD symptoms.

An ADHD diagnosis is by FAR your son's best shot at avoiding some of this. There are still a lot of people who don't understand ADHD, and some of them really don't WANT to understand, but the level of ADHD knowledge among people who work with children for a living is way better than it used to be. If people working with your son know that he has ADHD, they are much more likely to accept his limitations and recognize when he is making an effort, rather than criticizing him for behaviour he cannot control. Furthermore, if you educate your son about how his brain works, he will have a narrative about himself that makes sense, which he can use to counter negative messages that he gets from society based on his ADHD traits. A diagnosis will give him a chance at decent self-esteem and dramatically improve his chances of a healthy, happy adult life.

Your son would probably also function much better on ADHD medication. For most people with ADHD, it is much easier to function in life if they are on medication. The need for medication becomes more acute in the increasingly demanding situations that people encounter as they get older, such as college classes and jobs, and many people with untreated ADHD who functioned well as children become less functional as life's demands get greater. Medication also makes it easier to avoid earning the ire of people who will denigrate anyone who shows ADHD traits (and that's a LOT of people), which is very helpful for self-esteem and life success.

Please carefully consider what I'm saying. If your son truly has ADHD, diagnosis and treatment are extremely important for his long-term welfare.

(ETA: Just changed the entry from members-only to public so I can link to it for people outside this community, with one comment on the entry. I hope that's okay.)

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
cittenscollar
Oct. 12th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
Very good points all around! This especially stood out to me:

"many people with untreated ADHD who functioned well as children become less functional as life's demands get greater."

Thiiiis! I was VERY EASILY able to slide through childhood with my massive ADHD going undetected. I managed to convince most of my teachers to let me learn on my own terms. While I was still living in a world designed for neurotypical people, I was still able to make adjustments that I needed to make things relatively comfortable for myself. Once I hit college I was hit with the fact that the rest of the world ISN'T willing to be adjusted for people like me. I'm now going through the process of having to learn how to alter myself enough that I can function in the world and until I realized that there were other people like me, that was very difficult.

But, even if the entire world was set up for people with ADHD (imagine, movie theaters would be like "movie starts whenever, just show up at some point and we'll figure it out" AND IT WOULD BE AWESOME) I would still need to be medicated because my focus is so bad that my brain just shuts off and I get super tired if I try to focus too hard or too long, even if it's just sitting down to watch a movie. And life isn't fun when you want to watch a movie and you can't because you'll get bored and fall asleep within half an hour. I wish I'd been able to get on medicine sooner so I could enjoy the world.

This long rambling is all supposed to say: yes, diagnose that kid!
fearlessness
Oct. 13th, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
imagine, movie theaters would be like "movie starts whenever, just show up at some point and we'll figure it out" AND IT WOULD BE AWESOME

Alas, I think that's just called waiting till it's out on DVD and investing in a good sound system and big tv ;) (but yes, on-demand movie theatres would rock!)
heartgut
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
THUMBS UP
aprilstarchild
Oct. 13th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree with basically everything you said.
pewter_wings
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
I keep looking at your icon and thinking 'Wouldn't she slip off the seat like that?

ADHD minds rock!

aprilstarchild
Oct. 13th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
It's a photo of me! And the seat was slippery, but only because it had been 100F that day and I was sweaty. Normally it's not a problem, skin isn't slippery by itself and neither is a good bicycle saddle.
lisaquestions
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Love this post and agree with every single word.

Do you object if anyone else links it?
kisekileia
Oct. 13th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
I don't mind in the slightest. I'd be happy to see this information spread around.
fearlessness
Oct. 13th, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)
Very much agree with this; thanks for posting!

Diagnosis gave me a solid place to start. Once the diagnosis was made, doors opened to treatments, finding people who "get" it, finding strategies to help when things get tough, and being (as much as one can be) in control, instead of just thinking I'm alone and stupid. As a home-schooled kid, it might not be a big deal now, but kids grow up and have to leave the nest, so it's nice to have that foundation before then.
I didn't get the help I needed until a doctor mentioned it as a possibility when I was 20 and failing out of university. I so wish I'd gotten the dx sooner; I think it would have saved me a lot of grief.
pewter_wings
Oct. 13th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
I still keep toying around with the idea of meds for myself.

I really miss nicotine. It helped me relax and focus.
themachinestops
Oct. 13th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Ritalin has been the only thing aside from nicotine that helps me. Slight advantage to nicotine because it's a lot more powerful, but you can't smoke 24/7. (Plus, it's bad for you and expensive!) They've actually done brain scans that show Ritalin and nicotine hit most of the same receptors. Amphetamines don't hit the exact same ones and for me they don't work as well. I also wanted to smoke all the time on them.

P.S. This is a great post, thank you for writing it.
pewter_wings
Oct. 13th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
I did not know that! Thank you, I may ask for Ritalin when I go see my doctor soon.
innana88
Oct. 14th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
Maybe it would be helpful for a child to get the diagnosis. I didn't know I had ADHD until I was 30 and sometimes I wish I still didn't know. I struggled and didn't know why, to be sure, but because of my financial situation, I lack access to the resources I need, which just makes me feel rather hopeless. Before the diagnosis, I always figured out how to get by. Now I feel like I have this 'files corrupted' label on me without access to the means to fix it. So now I'm battling ADHD and the anxiety that comes from frustration with everything along with depression that accompanies feeling stuck in a rut. I've got talent and ideas and intelligence, but I don't have the means to use them effectively. I think I was better off without knowing what I had.
pipsophiepip
Oct. 15th, 2011 06:49 am (UTC)
Preach!

I didn't get diagnosed until I was 23, mainly because my mom was dead-set that neither of her kids was going to have any kind of "label" (whether or not that label was accurate). Even being a "gifted" kid and doing fairly well in school, I always had that "duck" feeling (calm on top but paddling like crazy underneath the water).

And even if the kid is doing alright with her interventions, there's no reason not to get him diagnosed... let him be an example of a really successful kid with ADD! It's not the diagnosis/label that is the bad thing, it's people's responses to it and our own shame and feeling that we have to hide it.

Good for you for posting that long comment; hopefully you've helped that kid out!
cygnet7
Jan. 17th, 2012 06:57 am (UTC)
*Most people with undiagnosed ADHD end up with very low self-esteem, along with other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, by adulthood as a result. A diagnosis is a godsend for them, because they finally figure out that no, they couldn't have made all their problems go away if only they'd tried harder, so they don't need to hate themselves for not trying hard enough. However, it is very difficult to undo the effects of all the derogatory messages they have gotten from society for so many years, especially since anxiety and a failure to understand one's own limitations can worsen ADHD symptoms.*

Yes, yes, yes. Knowledge is power. Sometimes I wince at past behavior/actions because of what I know now (wasn't diagnosed until an adult) and could wish I didn't know. But if I had been diagnosed as a child and had the kind of support this boy has who knows how I would have turned out. Let him have all the tools available.

P.S. to pipsophiepip - I loved this line: *Even being a "gifted" kid and doing fairly well in school, I always had that "duck" feeling (calm on top but paddling like crazy underneath the water).* Me, too.

(I do wish there was a preview feature. I'm always afraid I have accidentally typed something unspeakable...)
tiffy4
Mar. 14th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC)
"Most people, when they see a person who is late all the time, doesn't remember things, and can't pay attention, don't think the person has ADHD. They think "Oh, that person doesn't care about what they're doing." That is how people will likely react to your son unless he gets a diagnosis."


This is unfortunately true. And it doesn't help that most people don't believe ADHD is a real thing.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

adults_add
ADULTS with AD/HD

Latest Month

March 2012
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow