ADHD Perception: What is it?
ADHD is seen as being a 'trendy' disorder as diagnosis rates continue to rise. A German children's book from 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman featured “Fidgety Philip,” a boy who was so restless he would writhe and tilt wildly in his chair at the dinner table. Once, using the tablecloth as an anchor, he dragged all the dishes onto the floor. Yet it was not until 1902 that a British pediatrician, George Frederic Still, described what we now recognize as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a highly controversial psychological disorder. Debates center on many ideas and theories. Some professionals and many members of the public are concerned about diagnosing and medicating children. On the other hand, some experienced clinicians and specialists believe the condition isn't adequately recognized, and so many children are not being diagnosed. Others claim parents are pushing too hard to get their children a label and it's over-diagnosed. All children have problems with self-control to some extent – where do you draw the line between normal and difficult behavior?
The controversy puzzle
A big piece of the ADHD “controversy puzzle” is whether medications be used to treat children with ADHD? The use of psychotropic medications (i.e., medication used to treat mental illnesses, regulate mood and control behavior) is becoming more common place. In the United States, psychotropic medications are a widely accepted means of treatment for ADHD symptoms. Physicians, rather than psychiatrists, often prescribe medication, even when the child or adult patient has not been officially evaluated or diagnosed by a mental health professional. The need for an accurate diagnosis is critical. Without an accurate diagnosis, the physician cannot be certain that the child truly has ADHD as opposed to other diagnoses with similar symptoms. Utilizing medication to treat the wrong diagnosis can cause serious complications, including a worsening of symptoms. Hence this treatment is not effective.
So what are authority figures doing during this “epidemic” as a response? Did you know that the number of children suffering of ADHD raised dramatically after laws and practices for child protection came into effect. As a result, adults (parents and teachers) lost many educational tools. Look at the state of Illinois. Our state budget is STILL in a cluster. I have many clients that work in the school system and they are beyond frustrated with after school educational programs being cut due to lack of funding.
Drugs aren't the only treatment or option
One of the main reason I joined the team at GreenPath as a therapist, is because GreenPath emphasizes a holistic philosophy. While yes, I understand certain people NEED to be on medication, but I appreciate that at GreenPath- we focus more on the core root on the issue and implement tools to help build inner strength to reach the desired goal- such as: deep breathing, guided imagery, and other self-relaxation and impulse control activities/concepts. You would be surprised how beneficial it can be having one of my child clients sitting still for 5 minutes while focusing on his/her deep breathing. Not only is my cub more relaxed, but they learned a very basic and doable tool to help self-regulate, thus decreasing impulses.
Psychotropic medications, such as stimulants, should only be prescribed alongside other treatments, such as counseling and behavioral therapy. Having a support system is essential for any member of the family!
Where does that leave parents?
Parents can feel that whatever they do, they're in the wrong. It is perfectly natural for the parent to experience their own severe stress, worry, and even anxiety. This just does not affect the individual child, it affects the whole family unit. Some common thoughts that parents of my clients have shared with me:
- If they don't get a diagnosis, their child will suffer.
- If they do get a diagnosis, they're either jumping on a “trendy bandwagon” or are bad parents, who are drugging their children and feeling like their child has turned into a “zombie.”
- Stimulants can and are highly addictive medications and need to be monitored carefully for potential abuse
If you are reading this and this blog reaches you/ you can identify with it. I highly recommend contacting us at GreenPath to set up a consultation with one of our certified and experienced mental health therapists and clinical psychologists. We offer psychological testing and can help develop an appropriate action plan tailored to your child’s specific and unique needs!