Does Your Child Really Have ADD/ADHD?
Recently, one of my daughter's teachers approached me and expressed concern about my daughter and her grades. That she and her co-teacher had convened a Child Study committee to observe my child in class. As a dedicated special-ed substitute in the school system I was very curious to find out what they thought was the source of child's difficulties. When the day of the meeting, I went in with optimism sure that there was some misunderstanding and that they would of realized that the source of my child's issue was her own attitude and a case of boredom. Needless, to say I was shocked when they told me that they were convinced that she had ADD and felt that she needed medical intervention in order to succeed.
I will be honest,as a parent I was hurt and angry that my daughter's teachers waited until the year was half over to communicate the severity of situation and the depth of their concern. Professionally, I was astounded that they would not acknowledge my years of experience and knowledge of children with these issues and that I was pretty sure I knew what ADD/ADHD looked like. I decided as I walk to my car fighting back my tears of anger and frustration I was not going to allow my child to become the victim of the current cookie cutter approach of education. I decided that I needed a plan and more information in order to navigate these choppy waters. I decided that I needed to know more information about this potential diagnosis so off to the internet I went.
The first thing I needed to know was what were the symptoms of ADD:
- Doesn’t pay attention to details
- Makes careless mistakes
- Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
- Appears not to listen when spoken to
- Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
- Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
- Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
- Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items
I will have to say when I saw this list of symptoms I said "Gulp" that sure sounds like my daughter. But, then again this sounds like almost every child I have ever taught and the majority of adults I know and interact with on a daily basis. This list to me was one of the scariest things I have ever read, as this is one of the main tools that is used to diagnosis children with a serious medical issue and sentence them to a life of toxic medicines.
The next step for me was to sit down and take a good hard look at my daughter, her behaviors, and academics. This is a very painful step as no parent wants to admit that there may be a problem with their child. And, most importantly as a parent it is hard to admit that maybe you missed something that could be hurting your child. But, in this world of labels, and Ritalin as a cure all for everything, you have to be brutally honest with yourself.
That being said. I started with my daughter's last report card an reviewed her grades. Not straight A's but not all F's either. This is a key indicator that needs to be looked at when addressing a potential ADD diagnosis. Disabilities like ADD/ADHD, are neurological disorders and are not situational disorders. In actual cases of these disorders, there is normally an across the board testing and grade issue.
For example, in my daughter's case her grades were all 4 B's and one D. Some of her B's the previous 9 weeks were C's. Also her standardized testing scores, which were in the passing range for reading, went up dramatically. The bottom line is that if a child with ADD/ADHD their grades or test scores would not improve. Also, another indicator to look for that in the majority of children with ADD/ADHD there academic subject's grades will be consistently low. This discovery prompted me to speak with my daughter and have an honest conversation with her about the severity of the situation and simply asked her to let me help her to help herself. This tactic provided several litmus tests for dealing with this situation. The first purpose was to see if my child was simply not trying and goofing off in class. If this was the case there would be an almost marked an instantaneous improvement. If she truly was suffering from ADD/ADHD this wouldn't last or even work. Secondly, I would be able to see where exactly where she was struggling the most. And finally, it puts the teachers and the administration on notice that you are not willing to accept their diagnosis no matter how much they push.
My next question was to find out how many children are correctly diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. I discovered that 1 in 4 children who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are actually misdiagnosed. That is 75% of kids today that are on toxic medicines for something they don't have. This is a very sobering fact that we all need to be concerned with. As a teacher, I can't tell you how many times I have had to deal with a child who is in detox from being removed from stimulant medication to only be placed on a new one, to be switched 6 months again to something else due to the fact that the "Doctors" can't seem to find the right cocktail. This is very tragic and damaging to children mentally and physically. This for me made me realize that this meant a lot of kids were be treated for something they didn't have with disastrous results.
This lovely and scary fact, lead me to find out what other issues a child could have that may be presenting themselves as ADD/ADHD. According to the National Alliance against Mandated Mental Health Screening Psychiatric Drugging of Children some underlying medical issues that can present as ADD/ADHD are:Hypoglycemia (Low Blood sugar), allergies, learning disability (ie-dyslexia auditory processing issues), hyper or hypothyroidism, hearing and vision problems, and spinal issues to list just a few. This for me was the exact information that I needed to help my child and hopefully other children and families that have been forced onto the "Railroad Train Ride to Ritalin".
With this new information I now felt that I have some valid tools and that I could also use to prove or disprove the schools diagnosis and possibly keep my daughter from being put on unnecessary drugs and being shoved through the cracks. I could tweak my child's food to see if there was a possibility of low blood sugar, I could have her thyroid tested, I could take her to the chiropractor more often and the list goes on. The bottom line is that there are a lot of children being made or encourage to take dangerous medicines to appease the powers to be in the school systems across America.
Don't let your child become a victim of this new trend. Take action if you have a child that has been diagnosed question it, and get a second diagnosis particularly if your child is having adverse reactions to the meds or if they are not working. If you are like me and have teachers and administrators telling you they think your son or daughter has ADD don't accept it right away. Try my tips, of challenging your child to strive harder, change their diet, get a full medical exam, seek out an audiologist and eye doctor to rule out any hearing or vision problems. And most importantly, YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BEST!!!!!