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grandmachildTHE SCHOOL IS INSISTING ON HER TAKING RITALIN, we are dead against this, but the pressure is getting to my daughter. Please help!

We regularly receive variations on the above plea to help parents of ADHD children. Names and details have been changed, (but not the spelling or content), but I hope you will find the correspondence between me, the Mom and Gran helpful.

My first response to Gran

It is very scary and confusing when ADHD is diagnosed especially when it is your child. There are so many myths and conflicting advice about what you should, how you should do it etc. Everyone has an opinion about ADHD and often it is based on their own fears or what they have heard.

ADHD is not like breaking an arm where you can put a plaster cast on and a few weeks later it is all better.

There is no blood test or scan that can give you an easy answer. It is a neurological condition that you are born with, don't outgrow and requires a multi-disciplinary approach to managing it once it has been PROPERLY diagnosed. There are many conditions that have almost identical symptoms to ADHD but are not. eg. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Giftedness. Also ADHD very seldom occurs on its own. It may be accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder etc etc.

grandmotherbirthdayYour only concern as a parent of an ADHD child is to do what is best for your child using the tried and tested treatments that are available.

Teachers cannot insist on your child going onto medication. It is their role to bring to your attention that your child is not filling his/her potential and recommend that you seek appropriate advice from qualified professionals.

I suggest you go onto our website and listen to The Sound of an ADHD Brain which is an audio clip Dave Pughe-Parry created a few years ago. It will clearly show you the effects of ADHD distraction and how it affects your child. Also watch our How The ADHD Brain Works video to understand what Ritalin and Concerta do. (these will open in new windows)

Please answer the following to help me understand better so I can point you in the right direction. (The Mom's answers are in brackets which were received in a subsequent e-mail.)

1. How old is your child? (7 Yrs of age)
2. Where is she at school and what grade is she in? (given)
3. How long ago was she diagnosed with ADHD? 1st Term being in Grade 1
4. Who diagnosed her and what is their opinion about her being on medication? The school psychologist
5. What are your fears about medication? (That for 5 hrs of the day she is a robot, and once medication passed she has so many different emotions to deal with, etc)
6. Has ADHD been diagnosed in anyone else in your family? 4 out of 5 children with ADHD have at least one parent with the condition. (No – Only my Brother who is ADD)
7. Is your child physically hyperactive or the daydreamer type? (She is very busy and inquisitive, yet also likes her quiet time)

Other comments received from Gran - she is hyper, very fussy eater, gets bored quickly unless playing with other children, gets good marks in grd one, learns Afrikaans, Zulu, English words and numbers /reading over 5 different books since she began grd 1- very intelligent little girl, extremely sensitive , needs her moms approval for everything, does not play for long periods on her own, needs attention and stimulation constantly, eats, only certain foods, cheese, eggs, no butter won't eat or drink milk, like a bit of yogurt, likes nuts , biltong, chicken, not much else, loves sweets but have stopped most of them too many colorants ah has omega 3/6/9 and biostath tabs morning and night, one of each.

When we work with ADHD we work with the entire family and teachers because central to managing ADHD is the family environment.