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ADHD - how do I support my niece best
December 30, 2003
2:04 pm
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eve
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My niece is on Ritalin for ADHD. She does not always agree to take her medication and she seems bothered by the concept that she is not "ok" whithout her medication. When she doesn't take it in the morning, she gets very agitated, won't concentrate, can't sit still. And gets very disapointed when people notice that she didn't take *it*, and notice the difference.

Now, when she is under medication, she is very sweet, gentle, polite, intelligent. Sometimes stubborn or too touchy. I don't know too much about the drug, can sombody of you answer some questions?

- is it possible to interrupt the medication for a day? Or is it like other drugs that have to be taken continuously?

- Is the behaviour she shows when leaving the drug away 'how she would be normally' or just a rebound effect from abrupt whithdrawal?

- how long will she have to take this drug - for an average child, how many months / years?

- Are any of you diagnosed whith ADHD and how do you deal whith it?

- How can I help her. I want to show her that it is perfectly ok to have a *wild side*, but I don't want to openly disagree whith her parents on the diagnosis and on the medication. Me, I'm not sure what to think about it - she sure is easier to have around, when she is under medication, but I'm not sure if her normal self would be just a nuisance to the adults in her surroundings or a real social and school problem for her. How can I be sure that she isn't just drugged into compliance, because she got over the head of her teacher?

December 30, 2003
2:18 pm
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gingerleigh
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What sort of diet and exercise regiment does she follow? We talk a lot about how we all want to eat healthier as adults, but all this really should start as kids, right? Could her irritability and "hyperactivity" be her need to blow off some steam, either fueled by too much sugar or not vented enough in physical activity?

So many doctors are prone to treating ADHD with pills rather than lifestyle change, or with stricter enforcement of discipline. Children are not taught to honor the boundaries their parents set for them... parents may try, but media images of kids smarting off to their parents with overly mature responses undermines this each and every day. Logic would say that doctors might be doing the same thing to our kids (not that the doctors have bad intentions, not at all!) It's just that doctors have a much easier time prescribing remedies that involve taking a pill once per day than one that involves changing *how* we live our lives and challenging the social codes that bombard us at every turn.

I'm not disputing the diagnosis here, I'm not qualified to do it, and even if I were I don't know your neice. But my concern would be that all avenues be explored before trying the medication, since how do you know when it's "safe" for her to stop them meds, or would she be expected to remain on the medication for her entire life? And if not, when it is time to take her off them, wouldn't she just slip back into the same patterns of behavior?

December 30, 2003
2:23 pm
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eve
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Thanks gingerleigh, jep, that are my questions.

The whole family is slim, eats fairly healthy, and does a lot of exercise (my nieces do ballet twice a week, the family goes walking or skiing each weekend, sports at school, and football whith the kids around the neighbourhood whenever it doesn't rain). The parents are fairly strict and consequent, my nieces (both of them, not just the one under medication) are very well behaved and usually listen to what they are told - the kids of my other sister are a different story.

December 30, 2003
3:03 pm
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gingerleigh
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Here are a few links that might be interesting reading for you.

http://my.webmd.com/content/ar.....ectedguid={5FE84E90-BC77-4056-A91C-9531713CA348}

http://my.webmd.com/content/ar.....ectedguid={5FE84E90-BC77-4056-A91C-9531713CA348}

http://my.webmd.com/content/ar.....ectedguid={5FE84E90-BC77-4056-A91C-9531713CA348}

December 30, 2003
3:54 pm
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free
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eve

My son is ADHD. The decision to put a child on medication is a difficult one. My son is not because he does so well academically. I feel for him, however, as he struggles with impulsivity- he just does not think before he does things. I am constantly on him to settle down, slow down, stop, think before acting, shouting, name calling, throwing, hitting, yada yada yada. it causes difficulty in social relationships for him.

I don't know a great deal about the drug, but I do know that many doctors are extremely conservative about prescribing it, as my son's is.

A teacher with a few years experience can channel energy, but not all the time. ADHD kids struggle in traditional classrooms because they need to sit still, listen, take notes, etcetera. Discipline is not necessarily the answer because it does little to quell the impulsivity of ADHD kids. Many a times I send students outside of class while I teach, because I have the right to teach, and other students have the right to learn. ADHD kids understand this concept, but have difficulty maintaining for more than literally seconds at a time. Sometimes a teacher must choose between spending 42 minutes trying to get one or two kids on task, or spending 42 minutes teaching the other 30. It's not fair, and often heartbreaking for a teacher to have to make that decision. the one-one attention these kids need is simply not allotted during the course of a normal school day. It can't be, because of costs and time constraints.

Most teachers teach because we like working with kids. ADHD kids included. They have their own strengths and positives just like any other child.

For my son, I scream, yell, make phone calls, walk into the principals office, write letters, do whatever I have to do to ensure he gets the teacher I want him to have. One who can work with him and help to teach him to harness that energy, and one who uses discipline as a form of teaching that, versus punishment. For example, when he simply can't keep his hands off other students, he is sent to a table for some privacy so that he can focus on completing his work. it's not a punishment, it is teaching him that HE sometimes needs to give HIMSELF time alone to accomplish goals.

ADHD kids without meds need to learn to control their environment so that they can be successful. Controlling their impulsive behavior is not going to happen. But controlling the environment that leads to it is a necessary survival skill for them.They really have to be taught to get in touch with their feelings.

Personally, I'm about 50-50 on the highly controversial subject of meds for ADD and ADHD kids. There are great benefits, and not so good consequences.

Medicated kids must deal with the social stigma that they need meds to control their behavior. Kids pride themselves on being "mature" and behaving appropriately. Sometimes they think they are bad.

I think the best way to help you niece is teach her about ADHD. Their energy level is so high that she tends to "do as she thinks" versus "thinking and then doing". Her meds help her to settle down so that she can avoid trouble in school, at home, with friends. It's no different than somebody who takes antidepressants so that they can think about a situation versus crying about it all the time. Her meds are to make life more enjoyable for her, not others.At the same time, she must understand that she is accountable for her actions, meds or not.

free

December 30, 2003
4:05 pm
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eve
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Thanks for the links Ginger, they are interesting and controversial.

Free,

thanks for your explanation of ADHD from a parents and from a teachers perspective. It was very helpful for me. I found a few self-help books that I'm going to look into.

I was nervous and often unconcentrated as a kid, too. Maybe it runs in the family :). And I feel connected whith this niece, because she is a youngest sister, too. When I grew up I so often had the feeling that I was inadequate or useles, jsut because I was too young to do the same things my sibling could. But I geuss that is a problem of younger sisters and not of ADD

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