Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Running With Scissors, Discovering the New World, and Moving Twelve Hundred Miles Away: Thoughts on the Over-Medication of ADHD

As I mentioned yesterday, this article really needed a full blog post response. 

First, it's a long article, so here a few of the best snippets, in my opinion:

""We are pathologizing boyhood," says Ned Hallo-well, a psychiatrist who has been diagnosed with ADHD himself and has cowritten two books about it, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. "God bless the women's movement—we needed it—but what's happened is, particularly in schools where most of the teachers are women, there's been a general girlification of elementary school, where any kind of disruptive behavior is sinful. What I call the 'moral diagnosis' gets made: You're bad. Now go get a doctor and get on medication so you'll be good. And that's a real perversion of what ought to happen. Most boys are naturally more restless than most girls, and I would say that's good. But schools want these little goody-goodies who sit still and do what they're told—these robots—and that's just not who boys are.""

"Yes, the drugs these children consume may work. They help them focus for longer periods of time. They help them do better in school. But consider this: Stimulants work on just about anyone. "These are powerful drugs," says Bob Schaffer, the former Colorado congressman. "They would work on me. They would make anyone more focused. And everyone's happy because the kid is now under control." The fact that the drugs would help you perform better at work doesn't mean you should take them. And it certainly doesn't mean a seven-year-old boy who doesn't suffer from a psychiatric disorder should be taking them. Why not, if they help him do better? Because, for one thing, an important study of four thousand children published last year concluded that children who took stimulants didn't do any better in school than kids who didn't. But also, and perhaps more important, because he might not be the same seven-year-old boy once he starts, and he may never be the same boy again."

"Ned Hallowell, the ADHD expert who has the disorder, writes books about it, has talked about it on Dr. Oz, and thinks medication usually gets good results, feels the same. "The medical model is so slanted toward deficits that it excludes strengths—and it also reinforces stigma, that this is shameful, this is bad, this means you're a loser. And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's the old line of whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. And what breaks my heart is how these kids, and the parents along with them, get broken in school, and they come out of twelfth grade believing that they're stupid. Believing that they're defective. But this trait, these are the people who colonized this country! Just think of it: Who in the world would get on a boat in 1600 and come over here? You had to be some kind of a nut. You had to be a visionary, a dreamer, an entrepreneur—you know, a risk-taker. That's our gene pool. So this country is absolutely full of ADD."

And here's where I land personally. Because, for me, it is sort of personal:

I was just talking to some friends about this the other day after hearing someone talk about her little boy who is almost exactly Graves's age and who was very concerned about his ability to "sit still".

I'm not Jon Rosamond, I totally believe this is a real thing. In fact, I live with a grown man for whom this is a reality for EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. For a time, I also watched his swallow pills and endure those facial ticks and lack of hunger and mood changes this article makes mention of. So I get it. In the only way someone who doesn't have it can. That said, I'm fully convinced we are a society that does not allow little boys to be little boys.

Graves drives me up the wall just about every day of his little life. He really does. When he doesn't have the self control to sit through a meal, when he gets distracted every two minutes while picking up his toys, when he rounds a corner RUNNING with scissors (albeit the preschool kind) in his mouth, blades on either side of the tongue. Him sitting still for an arbitrary reason is the least of my concerns. I am doing my best to make sure he doesn't get hit by a train or run into traffic. I'm also trying not lose my mind, and my temper, every day. And I'm slightly terrified to try homeschooling him.

But I'm also remembering that, while his sister is brilliant in her own more socially acceptable way...HE will be the one who discovers the New World, walks on the moon, rides the fire engine.

Or he'll move his wife and very young children 1,200 miles away from everything they know and love, insist they only ever use public transit or walk everywhere they go, and drag them to the South Bronx. And God will use him to wreck their lives in the most glorious way.

I'll say this, it's easier when you know how the story can turn out. 

1 comment:

Daniel Fairley said...

Hey, I got alerted to "Running With Scissors" and to my surprise, it wasn't press about my game of the same name. Since I'm here, I guess I'll link you to my game since it might give you something to do while the kid is sleeping.