After much thought and prayer, I have decided to add a new section to my blog concerning ADHD. This is something that has been part of our family’s life since my oldest, now 13 1/2, was diagnosed when he was age 6 1/2. In all actuality, it is something we were living prior to that, but just did not have a name for. I have made the decision to share our struggles as well as our joys of being a family who is living the ADHD life because of my growing frustration with the negative stigma that has attached itself to this disorder. I pray, that by sharing our story, it will help to dispel some of the myths surrounding this disorder and help others who may need to know that they are not alone in their struggles.
I feel I must add a disclaimer up front. I do not hold any degrees in medicine or psychology. I am not a certified ADHD expert as determined by any college or university. What I am is a parent of a child who has ADHD. I am a woman who has ADHD. As such, I have spent the years since our diagnosis’ educating myself. I talk to doctors routinely, read countless books and journals, take classes, anything that I can do in order to keep myself up to date and self-educated on the latest advances and schools of thought concerning this disorder. I do all of this in order to be the best advocate for my child and his health that I can be.
At anytime I offer any facts or research, I will add supporting links of bibliographic reference. I will also clearly indicate when anything expressed is my opinion.
At no time do I wish you to consider anything that is found in this section to be in place of any medical diagnosis for your child, yourself or anyone you know. Your best course of action is to always seek help from certified medical professionals when seeking treatment for any ADHD or other related medical issues.
I realize that there will be many of you who will have a difference of opinion of what ADHD is. I understand that and I welcome honest questions and opinions that are asked and spoken with grace and compassion. However, I will not tolerate anything that is clearly trolling or hateful. Those comments will be removed in respect to our children and others we know that are actually living the ADHD life every day.
Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to outline, in a nutshell, what ADHD is, as a general point of reference for any posts that I may write in the future. I will expand on more details as I share more of our story in the future, but I hope that this short explanation will give you a glimpse into the disorder.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and is one of the most common neurodevelopmental (having to do with the way the brain grows and develops) disorder in children. Children (and adults) with this disorder may have great difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling impulses, are overly active or have a combination of all three. ADHD is thought to be caused by an imbalance of two chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, in the brain. It is thought to occur in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that control attention, behavior, and judgment.
It is important to note that, yes, all children have difficulty with these things sometimes. The difference, and it is a big one, is that children diagnosed with ADHD have trouble with these things all the time, 24/7. Also, while “neuro-typical” children will grow out of these issues as they mature, it is important to note that ADHD is a disorder and not something, once diagnosed, that they will grow out of. That is a great misnomer. As a child with ADHD ages, they will naturally be able to conduct themselves better because of the maturity that comes with being an adult. However, if left improperly treated, they will continue to struggle with symptoms that will negatively impact all areas of their life: their marriages, parenting, jobs and more.
My son was diagnosed at the Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, at their ADHD clinic. duPont is well known across the world as being a top-rated hospital for children. Our son’s doctor told us that, in essence, there are thousands of chemical transmitters in our brain. These chemical transmitters are responsible for sending out the messages from one part of the brain to another, in order to control each and every biological, physical and mental function that a person does. In a person with ADHD, these messages are interrupted by a chemical imbalance, causing these messages to get lost, fast forwarded, slowed down, or all mixed up. Therefore, it is impossible, for a person with these imbalances in this area of their brain to control their actions in these areas. They need proper medical intervention in order to cope with these issues. This includes a combination of medication and behavior modification therapy.
Contrary to popular belief, this disorder is not typically easily diagnosed. It must meet a strict criteria of guidelines which are outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5). These strict guidelines are there to ensure that the disorder is being properly diagnosed and treated. If you, your child or someone else is ever haphazardly diagnosed within a five minute meeting of seeing a doctor, I suggest that you should go elsewhere. Our son’s diagnosis was determined only after rigorous questionares and questioning by his teachers, parents and close care givers; which were extremely detailed and long in length. He also had a two hour evaluation at the clinic, and diagnosis was not given on the spot, but only after everything was conferred over by the team of expert doctors.
I hope that this gives you a little insight into ADHD and where those of us who are living in it on a daily basis may be coming from.
A little food for thought to close:
At my son’s evaluation at duPont, in which some of the evaluation and testing is done just in the presence of the doctor and nurse so that there is no parental bias, my then 6 1/2 year old told the doctor that he felt like he had a million different books opened in his brain and he didn’t know which page to turn to and read first. He knew that something was not quite the same about himself as the other kids in his class, and he wanted to know why he had the “sillies” all the time, even when he didn’t want to be silly.
ADHD is real. Welcome to our journey.
Please visit the following sites to verify my facts: