To me, the idea of medicating children for ADHD seems completely unnatural, and wrong.
Two years ago after giving the holistic dietary approach to ADHD a good run, I made the anxiety provoking decision to medicate my little boy.
I was extremely worried about the effects medication could have on my son’s body. I was worried that his brain may become too reliant on the medication. I was concerned about damage to internal organs, and his growth, in terms of his height.
Stunted growth is a side effect of medications used to contain ADHD symptoms (my child is now the second shortest child in his class).
”Morally, I felt the crunch from my conscience.”
No parent should feel that they absolutely have no other choice but to medicate their child in the hope of warding off out of control behaviour, to improve learning capability, and to increase overall productivity.
However, as parents of children with ADHD, we often do feel as though we must medicate our children. Our children’s behaviours are not socially acceptable.
Poor behaviour, and an incapacity to learn can have a devastating affect on a child’s mental health.
I believe there is a holistic approach to ADHD. I just didn’t find it. There are too many holistic approaches to supposedly help contain the symptoms of ADHD. Each child’s body reacts differently to each individual diet.
There is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to eliminating particular foods. And, there isn’t enough time to trial every single ADHD diet.
Children should be able to eat fun foods regardless of what of type of brain they have been designated.
So, on the flip side, my son can now concentrate for the first time in his life. He can actually enjoy learning, eat lollies without becoming out of control, and engage in interpersonal relationships without scaring his friends away.
My child has the upper hand. He is in control of his behaviour, not the other way around.
”My child likes himself.”
ADHD put my son in a position of vulnerability to feelings of intense shame and self-hatred. As a mother, I couldn’t watch my little boy go through that.
Shame is mentally incapacitating. It hinders people from achieving great things, and can lead to drug addiction.
However, with that being said, am I interfering in my son’s journey to learn how to manage his ADHD symptoms?
The pediatrician told me that by medicating my son, his brain will slow down. This will give my son the chance to think his choices through, instead of acting on his impulses.
Holistic approaches to ADHD will not give my son the same opportunities that medication does.
Elimination diets do not guarantee that your child will suddenly become a focused student with an excellent concentration span.
Elimination diets require months of product trials, vitamin trials, and fruit and vegetable trials to get the correct combination of nutrients required to improve behaviours.
You can completely eliminate colours, only to find that the tomato on your child’s sandwich created a major meltdown.
You can eliminate a wide combination of vegetables, food additives and soy products, only to find that your child reacts to something the diet says your child should be able to consume.
It is almost impossible to get the combinations correct. I know this, because I have tried it.
These diets do help a child’s behaviour. I have seen the progress made first hand. However, the progress is inconsistent, and the results are poor in comparison to the benefits of medication.
When you know your child’s self- esteem is in harms way, and you know that it could take at least a year to get your child’s ingredients right, medication is the easiest most fulfilling option.
When making the decision to ‘medicate, or not to medicate’ my son, I thought deeply about our single parent family as an entire unit. I had to do what was best for the four of us.
Having a child with special needs is a high – stress position to be in. This is not good for the family as a system. I cannot give 75% of what I have to give, to my son. It isn’t possible, its not o.k, and it simply isn’t fair to my girls.
Pros to medicating:
Cons to medicating:
My son’s brain is complex. My son is hilariously funny, in a quirky kind of way. He almost always jumps out of bed and begins his morning with an over the top dance, and a song with non-existent words, words he apparently made up.
Sometimes he is so hyperactive that he just can’t stop. Without medication, he cannot concentrate, sit still, and will exhibit difficult behaviours.
My son exists in a different space from other children. This space is an isolated space. His hyperactivity deems him immature, his concentration span keeps him from learning, and his low dopamine levels make him continually seek out high risk situations.
Just as we think he has enough to handle, we are given another diagnosis. My son has ADHD, and dyslexia.
It can take my son’s brain months to process a particular academic concept.
It took ten weeks of intensive teaching on my part to get my son to understand how exactly one goes about sounding out a simple word. For this to happen, my son needed complete silence as I sat with him everyday for twenty minutes repeating simple words, and emphasising the five vowel sounds.
His fine motor skills are poor. His hands hurt when he is asked to write. His writing is all over the page, and his fingers ache when he does up the buttons on his school shirt.
My son’s brain has always performed differently. At eighteen months old he could scoot on a two wheeler scooter. At age of four, he could do a pretty good sized jump on his scooter.
However, oddly enough, by the age of two years old, my son could not say one single word!
I quickly adopted a well know speech pathology technique and taught my son how to speak.
For the next six months, for one hour every single day, I tirelessly commented on his every action whilst he played. I talked, and talked, and talked, each and everyday, until my son could make full sentences.
My initial thought was that my son was simply a slow talker. However, I was very wrong. His speech difficulty was ultimately a sign of something much deeper.
At the beginning of kindergarten I was told by my son’s teacher that he may have ADHD.
He was throwing gigantic tantrums in class, he couldn’t sit still, and his impulse control was non-existent. By the end of the year, most of his friends realised that going near my little boy meant they may get a wack.
Towards the end of kindy my son was diagnosed with ADHD by a paediatrician, and medicated.
Once upon a time I questioned the realness of ADHD. Now, I see ADHD exactly for what it is; a complex disorder where impulse control, hyperactivity, and a lack of concentration are at the fore front of the problem.
I have watched my son lose control of his inhibitions. I have watched his behaviour climax to out of control degrees. I have watched him dance while trying to read a book, cry because he doesn’t understand his own brain, and sit in a deep sense of shame because he doesn’t want to behave badly, or to be an underachiever.
At the age of seven my son is finally beginning to achieve academically, and in his social life. However, his conditions do mean that he is now a continual work in progress.
My son walked into the kitchen this morning while I was reading his report card. He asked me if he had done well, and I told him he had. He looked over my shoulder and stared at his grades. His happy face immediately turned pale, and resinated disappointment.
He wanted to know if he had only received low grades? So, I told him that are many good things about his report, and that I am really proud of him.
He was happy with my answer, and his face immediately lit up again.
I don’t understand how the department of education, and a society can allow children to receive D’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought keeping our children’s self-esteem high at all times was one of the most important things we as a society can do. Children only want A’S and B’s. No-one wants a C or a D. These grades make children feel stupid.
My life is about keeping my son’s wings flying high in the sky. Nobody wins if children think they are silly. These children turn into adults with limited confidence. Both their past successes, and the times they were least successful mould them into the adults they become.
The teachers tell me not to show my son his report card. My son knows that twice a year he brings home his report card in a yellow envelope.
There are so many great things about my son besides his grades. My son is very switched on, highly intuitive, is a great soccer player, a sound cricket player, and a lovely brother.
He would give you his last lolly if you really wanted it, and he is the first person to help if help is what you need. My son’s brain is different from other children’s. He is in a category of his own.