I am writing this blog due to a discussion I found myself in on social media. Let me first premise this blog by saying my specialty as a 12 year RN was not pediatrics. I did sub specialize in practicing in pediatric ER, Recovery Room, and Cardiac Catheterization Lab. However, the bulk of my experience was in dealing with adults.
Second, I’d like to communicate my own family experience with childhood ADHD before I go any further. My first cousin, I will call him Fred for anonymity, was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. This was in the early 1980s. Fred was just mean. Period. A complete and total brat. Do not worry I have told him this many times over the years; and with age and experience behind us, he freely admits it himself. Fred, a year younger than myself, had to have everything his way, and have it yesterday. Fred had no patience, no self-control and no respect for others and their belongings. Fred was thrown out of at least 2 Elementary schools for this behavior. His teachers complained to my aunt and uncle that he was uncontrollable, that they were spending entirely too much time with him and neglecting others as a result. My aunt and uncle, in complete dismay, took Fred to the doctor and voila! He was placed on medication for his ADHD. His behavior did improve somewhat, however what was really the problem, as he now tells me, was never treated. My aunt and uncle, who are salt of the Earth, were as Fred tells it today, very inconsistent with his discipline. He was allowed to act like a total menace with his mother, and severe corporal punishment from his father. This was, in Fred’s and my opinion, the root cause of his ADHD. Fred, eventually, grew to resent “being drugged” (his words not mine). He also developed the tendency, that some ADHD children on medication do, that if drugs given to them as children are a cure-all; then surely drugs as a teenager and adult must be as well. Fred later became a heroine and crack addict. Lucky for our family, hitting bottom really did make Fred see the light. He has gotten his life together, and is a parent himself.
Now, I do believe there are some children who legitimately have ADHD. However, it is also my belief that it is a diagnosis over-used. But enough of what I think.. Let’s get to some facts..
ADHD as defined by the American College of Pediatrics is as follows:
“ADHD is a syndrome with three catagories of symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Each of the core symptoms of ADHD has its own pattern and course of development.”
There have been many studies as to the causes of ADHD in children and even adults. Some scientifc data suggests that there seems to be a correlation between decreased tryptophan and tyrosine, amino acids that are used by the brain to produce dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. According to these studies, it is the malfunction of these chemical “signals” that could be some of the biochemical causes of ADHD.
However, these studies rarely use large test groups; and it has been found that those without any hyperactivity, impulsivity or attention issues were also found to have malfunction of these “signals”.
Phew! So what does all that even mean? Simply, that as a parent, do your research. I am a proponent of less is more. If you can use consistent parenting with coping skills and lots of TLC and achieve success without medications, then I say “go for it”. There are some children that need medication. Weigh the side effects of these medications, which haven’t been very well documented and studied, with the alternatives. Perhaps dietary issues are the key. I am yet to find a serious study where simply tryptophan and tyrosine replacements were used in ADHD treatment in children. Could that be because big pharmaceuticals stand to make no money? Who knows..
I will place all the links I have used in the creation of this blog. It’s always paramount to provide information and let people decide for themselves.