Helping Kids With ADHD
A startling trend is occurring with kids diagnosed with ADHD: instead of having behavior therapy be the default, front-line treatment, kids are being put on powerful, potentially dangerous controlled substances like amphetamines.
In fact, studies show that about 43 percent of kids with ADHD are on medication without any therapy for ADHD whatsoever! This is scary, to put it mildly.
Roughly 13 percent receive only behavioral therapy, with about 31 percent receiving both medication and therapy as treatment. Think of that – kids 6 years of age and younger being put on very powerful pharmaceutical medications that can change their brains over time, affect their blood pressure, heart rates and other aspects of their development.
Why Medication Isn't Necessarily the Best Option
This excerpt from an article on ADHD medications by Dr. John Gorhol really hits home: “ADHD medications won’t work for a great many people without behavioral or other psychotherapy interventions.”
The more people I talk to online, the more I’m witnessing awareness being raised about over-medication and misdiagnosis, issues largely due to a lack of consistent education when it comes to people who are entrusted to properly and thoroughly diagnose and treat conditions like ADHD.
As I write this article, I’m reminded of the reality these days (as far as mental health is concerned, anyway) that each of us must become our own advocates, or in the case of parents with ADHD children, you must be your child’s advocate.
That can be an exhausting, scary thing to do at times. I wish I had a better, “easier” answer for you, but I don’t. This is what each of us must do for ourselves, loved ones and others we know going through tough times.
Here are some tips for parents of kids who are suspected to have (or have already been thoroughly diagnosed with) ADHD/:
Find a Good Specialist
This can be much easier said than done, depending on where you live. I’ve heard horror stories about kids being diagnosed in less than 10 minutes, for goodness’ sake! General practitioners (family doctors) don’t have nearly as much education as they need to be diagnosing kids and adults with ADHD, frankly.
Some make it their specialty, learning about the ways to avoid a misdiagnosis by ruling other possibilities out, but unfortunately, most are just too busy to devote the time needed. It’s the harsh reality we’re facing these days, and that’s why it’s up to each of us to teach ourselves what to watch out for.
Keep going. This isn’t something that’s “black and white.” In the end, you’ve got to find your way to solutions for your child. In a perfect world, we’d all have quick access to specialists who are at the top of current learning on the subject of mental health and thoroughly take their time working towards a diagnosis, but that’s often not the case. Sometimes parents don’t know where to begin.
This is a journey for all of us, myself included. Just keep going, getting second opinions if you feel dissatisfied with a physician or other professional.