Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New year, old rants

But first, Happy New Year plus five days! The kids had a lovely time with Grandma and Grandpa and we had a lovely time without the kids. Although I don't know how much longer we'll be doing these yearly shindigs, since this time next year, all the couples involved will have kids. I guess we could just let the kids have the world's longest playdate while we make fun of Ryan Seacrest in the next room. (Seriously, would that guy's hair move in a hurricane?)

The schools were open precisely one day last week because the weatherfolks were predicting Snowpocalypse Part II and school officials statewide panicked. (Spoiler alert: It was not Snowpocalypse Part II.) So this week will be one massive transition back to regular school life, unless the freezing temps/ice storm prompt yet another closure, and let's hope not.

How well are we transitioning so far? You mean aside from kiddo being an utter basket case by dinnertime and inconsolable by bedtime? Oh, fine. Just fine. He got the necessary number of checks on his behavior chart at school, so at least he kept it together long enough to come home and dump his lopsided emotional equilibrium on us. Because we only let him watch one TV show. And because we actually expected him to eat his dinner. And because having correctly judged his emotional state, we refused to let him work on his book report tonight, since it wasn't due yet. That's right. He flipped out because we told him *not* to do homework.

I mention all this because there's a wonderfully helpful neurologist coming out with a book called "ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.” Isn't that nice? I must've imagined the whole scene tonight. Or all the other moms I know whose kids have ADHD must also be imagining their kids' behavior, which -- funny thing -- strongly resembles my son's behavior. What a strange thing to be delusional about. I'd much rather be delusional about the idea that ice cream has no calories.

Anyway the NY Post, displaying the subtlety it's known for, writes:

Patients show up at the clinic with their own ADHD diagnoses these days, simply because ADHD is in the air all around us — and because they want to score some delightful drugs like Adderall or Ritalin, or because their parents want an easy way to get them to sit down and shut up.

*sigh* Yeah. Number one: It's not "in the air all around us." What you're thinking of might be cold germs. Number two: There are actually a number of medications available to treat/manage ADHD, many of which aren't stimulants. And none of these medications is meant to be "delightful" -- just "functional." Number three: If all my kid did was run around a lot and talk a lot, do you really think I'd be taking him to a pediatric psychiatrist?

I have a tendency on thishere blog to focus on the meltdowns and the personal-space issues and the sensory issues and the frustration over being asked to do any sort of rote, routine anything, but the thing is, kiddo is a total sweetheart. He's utterly charming, he's friendly to everyone, he plays peekaboo with babies in the checkout line at the supermarket. He tells me he loves me constantly, gives me hugs and plays with my "squiggly" hair. He's smart and funny and he loves books. I wouldn't trade this kid for anything. No, he's not easy to raise. If I wanted something easy to raise, I'd have gotten a goldfish.

Richard Saul, the neurologist in question, says:

“ADHD makes a great excuse,” Saul notes. “The diagnosis can be an easy-to-reach-for crutch. Moreover, there’s an attractive element to an ADHD diagnosis, especially in adults — it can be exciting to think of oneself as involved in many things at once, rather than stuck in a boring rut.”

 I don't think people find it exciting to think they might have a mental disorder. I think maybe they're relieved to finally discover what's wrong with them, why they can't hold down a job or keep a relationship or manage their money. I think the person I briefly emailed with via the ADDitude boards, the one who hoped my moms group might help him, wasn't excited about his "easy-to-reach-for crutch." More like, his life was in ruins and he didn't have anywhere else to turn. (I never did hear back from him. I hope he's all right.)

Frankly nearly every debunked case cited in the article is an adult patient -- not a kid. I fully believe that there are a lot of misinformed adults out there who might jump to a conclusion about a diagnosis without ruling out all physical possibilities (sleep deprivation, too much caffeine, as the article cites) first. Because this is a country of jumping to conclusions. Fiber is good for you? Put it in everything. Omega 3's are good for you? Put that in everything. Eggs will kill you instantly! Eggs will save your life! Etc.

But none of that explains the kids. The ones almost physically unable to join in the group. The ones who are so clearly trying to listen to everything around them at once that they don't hear anything. The ones who are so unable to comprehend personal space that they repeatedly get in other kids' faces until the other kids bite them, just to make them stop. (Kiddo, in preschool.) The ones who blatantly stand out from the other kids, no matter how hard they try to fit in. Explain that. Help that. Or would that not help book sales?

Moving on ... to, shockingly, a story in the Times. Aren't you shocked? The Times tried to prematurely ruin my New Year's with this article, saying that some authors of a NIMH study 20 years ago now think the study oversold the benefits of drugs and discouraged other treatments, such as behavioral therapy. And then the big bad pharmaceutical companies used the study to direct-sell their drugs to parents and doctors. Because apparently parents and doctors don't know how to do research. Or else they would have read about that NIMH study, as I did when I was first researching kiddo's diagnosis, in "ADHD: What Every Parent Needs to Know" from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

"[The study] found that stimulants used as the sole form of treatment led to significantly better results for the core symptoms of ADHD than behavior therapy used alone. A combination of the two approaches, however, has been shown to lead to the best overall improvement in several aspects of ADHD. ... Parents in the MTA study whose children used this combined approach were often significantly more satisfied with the treatment plan than those whose children received medication alone."  (2nd edition, p. 50, if you're interested.)

So, if I was able to read this book and find this passage, and know all along that medication was a last-resort possibility even as I hunted down a behavioral therapist and an occupational therapist for kiddo, then, really, no one else for 20 years has been capable of doing that? Or does the whole notion of doing your own research not fit with the theme of the Times' stories?

All I want for 2014 is to read one story about ADHD that acknowledges what it's like to live with the disorder, instead of taking potshots at the mere existence of medication. And my birthday is coming up. Hint hint.

No comments:

Post a Comment