I’m not sure why God brought this topic to my mind this morning. That’s usually how my thought process works though – randomly. I had just put the boys in their rockers and out on the screened in porch so they could get fresh air while I made some breakfast. And while I was hustling to make my shake and eggs as fast as I could, I started thinking about how much I disagree with the diagnosis of ADHD. No, I’m not one of those people who doesn’t believe in the existence of ADHD. If you are, cool. But I’m not.
I totally believe that God blessed some of us with the ability to multimultitask (nope, not a typo) and more energy than others. Whenever people offer me coffee I politely decline, letting them know that “God made me caffeinated”. What I don’t believe in is our country’s obsession with treating ADHD like it’s a disease. I blame Big Pharma for that one.
I was diagnosed with ADHD my sophomore year of college. You read that correctly COLLEGE. I started to see a therapist to deal with PTSD resulting from sexual assault and I walked out of his office with a prescription for Ritalin. No joke. I’m not mad at him, though. If it weren’t for the accommodation that the diagnosis afforded me, I doubt I would have graduated from college on time. It also forced me to deal with my organization and time management issues.
I remember filling out the DSMIV questionnaire and wondering if somehow the creators of the test had based it on my life. Then the kicker. The counselor told me that although I met the DSMIV criteria, he would need to see copies of my grade school report cards to confirm the diagnosis. Thankfully my mom suffers form a mild case of hoarding and she had most of my report cards.
Every one of them reported something along the lines of “Very bright girl, but won’t stay in her seat.” And “Very gifted in math, but won’t stop talking.” And my favorite “Very smart girl, but doesn’t turn in her assignments on time.” I can’t stand when students try to turn in late work in math. It kind of defeats the purpose of practice. But I digress…
We didn’t have Ritalin when I was a kid. Why not? Because no one was diagnosed with ADHD. Why not? Because moms like mine would kick their kids out of the house if they tried to stay in doors and watch TV while it was still light outside. There were times when I would get back from playing with a friend down the street and if my mom thought I seemed a little too energized still she would tell me to go back outside and get more of my “ya-yas” out.
Although getting my “ya-yas” out helped at home, that practice didn’t serve me too well at school. We only had one extended recess break to relieve pent up “ya-yas”. And no amount of releasing of said “ya-yas” was going to help with my lack of organization and time management skills.
But I made it through grade school and high school. I did not make straight A’s. In fact, I only made it the honor roll one quarter in the 8th grade because my mom really wanted one of those stickers. You know the ones.Today, most parents are more interested with the letter grade their student earns than the knowledge and skills they acquire (or in a lot of cases, don’t – in spite of what letter grade they earned).
As an adult I still struggle with these issues. I do not claim ADHD though. I will not wear that label. Again, not because I don’t believe in its existence. I just don’t believe in the disease-medication approach. So nowadays I exercise regularly to exert my “ya-yas” in a way that benefits my health. At least once a month I purge my kitchen and dinning room of papers and try to keep pertinent paperwork organized. And when I have tasks I need to get done, I make a to-do list and use a timer to keep me on target.
What will I do if one of my boys is suspected of having ADHD, you ask? I’m going to tinker with their diets and enforce strict sleep schedules. I’m going to have mandatory playtime outside whether they like it or not. I will have them participate in organized sports if need be. I will teach them how to keep organized backpacks, binders, and how to use an agenda (day planner). If medicine is still necessary, so be it, but these are life skills that they need to master. Life skills that a pill cannot teach them.
I would love to tie this up in a nice bow and ask you an engaging question to which you can respond by writing in the “comment” box. But my next blog has been trying to interrupt this one the whole time I was typing so, gotta go.