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Childhood mental illness, and you.

tantrum (bisquick)
I woke up to this amazing meme on my Facebook page, posted by Brother's Wife.



Don't medicate kids for being kids because kids never experience mental illness and any problems they have are probably just their magical spirits shining through hooray!

I hate shit like this, I really do, but I hate it most when it comes from family. I want to take this moment to point out that for years during the early struggles with Tempest's autism, we were isolated and stigmatized for behaviours she exhibited by Brother and Brother's Wife… who then go on to deny the very existence of it at all. Feels good, man.
Later on, Brother's Wife appeared to recognized the huge improvements that were made with treatment (medication) and even complimented us on our determination to get her appropriate care… while apparently also believing that what she experienced doesn't even exist and is probably due to bad parenting? Say what? This isn't pure conjecture here: all was revealed during the ensuing argument on said post. I seriously cannot even with this crap.

This level of ridiculousness makes me want to rant a bit about our culture's unbelievable level of cognitive dissonance regarding children's mental health.
We seem to all agree that there is a mental health care crisis, especially given recent news-worthy events like school shootings and the like. In general, we all share the belief that we need more care, less stigma, more access and more knowledge. If I stand up and speak to a crowd about how people need more access to proper diagnostic care, I'm fairly confident that everyone would be in agreement. Media (both left and right) even seems to be on board: getting proper, prompt care is imperative to maintaining an acceptable quality of life for someone who has any sort of mental illness, behavioural problem or other neurological impairment of some sort. This is not only important for the sufferer, but to their family and friends (or caretakers). For the most part we even seem to acknowledge the existence of carer fatigue: the stress that comes from constantly taking care of someone with a mental illness (or physical one, for that matter).
This isn't a perfect example, of course, but in general I find the above to be true.

But… when we try to discuss mental health in relation to children suddenly everyone goes all Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

Now all of a sudden the idea of prompt and proper care is "robbing them of a childhood". Any discussion about treatment or diagnosis of childhood mental illness is drowned out by the angry mob claiming that it doesn't even exist; the scads of professionals and researchers who devote their lives to finding these treatments simply don't know how to appreciate their little spirits. Diagnosis of these disorders (or recognition of the symptoms) are perceived as the fault of lazy mothers (because it's always about the mothers) who won't spank enough/spank too much/spoil/neglect/ignore their kids, and are otherwise incompetent failures that flunked out of Mommy Grad School. Any attempt at increasing awareness and improving support is overshadowed by the narrative of the enlightened mother who doesn't believe in all that "hooey" about child mental illness because her days are filled with flowers and rainbows as she encourages her merely-misunderstood-genius children to create lovely paint messes on the kitchen floor. That may sound extreme, but a quick browse around any social networking site will tell you the same, trust me.
You can't swing a lolcat on Facebook without hitting some sort of, "don't medicate kids" meme or psuedo-meaningful quotation about how children deserve "real childhoods" instead of being oppressed by parents who want to stifle their natural beauty with buckets upon buckets of Ritalin. In these shareables, children who take any sort of medication are presented as victims of some sort of vast "ADHD conspiracy" wherein a completely normal kid is maliciously misdiagnosed, leading to their horrible disfigurement through toxic medications, and ongoing neglect by parents who probably just want more time on Tumblr and clearly don't love the kid at all.

It is baffling to me how pervasive this belief has become. The same people who readily call for mental health care reform will also deny the very existence of these problems in children and youth. Do people really think that all children are born neurotypical and are only capable of developing neurological disorders once they turn 18? Do they think the people who have suffered from depression or ADHD all their lives are either lying or exaggerating? I really don't understand this. From what I can gather, the reasoning behind the belief seems to be that the more improved the diagnostic procedures (and thusly the more often diagnoses are made), the more likely it is to not exist in the first place. Does anyone else see how fucking bonkers this sounds?
To be fair, there are parts of the argument that I can jive with: we are definitely seeing more and more evidence that some neurological problems in children may be influenced by environmental toxins or exposure to pesticides. We see evidence of epidemics, and clusters of cases that we think would not normally occur without some sort of catalyst. Children are our canaries in the coal mine, in that aspect. But upon realizing the prevalence of neurological disorders is increasing, the answer is not to then refuse to treat said problems or deny their existence entirely. Mental illness is the only field of health care where we regularly refuse to treat (or even acknowledge) patients - and it does very real harm. Telling someone that the disorder they're suffering with doesn't even exist isn't too far from telling them to "snap out of it". A diagnosis of ADHD, for example, cannot even be made without "clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning" for a period no shorter than six months, as stated by the DSM IV. In layman's terms, that means that the child's quality of life is suffering as a result of their symptoms. Really, this isn't a case of misunderstood childhood: these are kids who cannot have a childhood as a direct result of their symptoms.
The people who promote this "don't medicate childhood" kind of thinking tend to have this idea that disorders like ADHD are nothing more than a mild exaggeration of typical childhood behaviour. Like their worst problem is not being able to sit still for six straight hours or being kind of annoying. The reality is that having uncontrolled ADHD is like having your brain riding a roller coaster, non-stop, all day long. You can't think, you can't focus, you can't enjoy your hobbies, you can't hold a conversation, you can't learn new facts, you can't read a book, you can't play a game, you can't be with your friends, you can't even make friends… because your body and your brain won't stop spinning and spinning and spinning out of control. That lack of control is frightening, not fun. It's not a joyous part of childhood. It's embarrassing, it's uncomfortable and it's definitely not a case of people not appreciating your uniqueness. For a child sufferer, medication can mean the difference between sitting in a corner tearing the paper out of books, and being able to actually read one.

If you had a child in horrible pain, denying them the medication that dramatically improved their quality of life would easily be considered a form of abuse. To do so would be willfully prolonging and perhaps even worsening the suffering of that child. But have a mentally ill child, or a child with a severe behavioural problem that affects their ability to interact with the world and other children who requires medication to function? Well, in that case
It's easy to say those symptoms are a "gift" and those lazy-ass parents simply need to "teach children to harness it" when you've never, ever, ever had a child with a severe neurological or behavioural disability. Ever. When it comes to youth mental health, our cultural awareness of what exists and how to treat it is so severely skewed toward ignorance that we've created an atmosphere where it is more acceptable to make children suffer than it is to admit there may be a problem, and then attempt to help them find stability (and safety) through treatment of that problem.
Treating said disorder goes the same way that any diagnostic process does: trial and error, taking into account the patient (or their guardian's) preferences. Sometimes you get awesome doctors who work with you, sometimes you get shit ones who don't listen. Sometimes the pills have unintended side effects and you have to deal with it, sometimes you try a few different things before finally finding something that works. And very rarely you find something outside any field of modern medicine that helps you. That's rare, but it happens, and when it happens that's pretty awesome. But, that doesn't mean that everyone else is as lucky and fortunate as you. When you're that person, you have to understand that you're a minority: you're unique, and fortunate, and to be honest I'm thinking that most of the time you probably weren't suffering in a way that was fucking up your life to the point where you couldn't live it at all. That's awesome for you, but it's not the same for the majority of sufferers. This is another major pet peeve when it comes to this discussion: the, "I had trouble doing homework, someone said it was ADHD, but then I meditated and it went away so ADHD doesn't exist and all the meds are a lie!" people.
Let me use an example to explain this phenomenon that may be easier to relate to: physical pain.
I have a spinal disease encoded right into my genes that slowly fuses my vertebrae, trapping nerves, causing excruciating pain that I'm likely to experience the rest of my life. I take very strong medications every day to maintain an acceptable quality of life. Can you imagine if my friends and family were having the conversation around me about how, as a culture, we need to examine why so many people have "back pain" and whether or not it even exists? Because gee, "Can't you just meditate it away? I knew this one guy who said his back hurt, and he had a hot shower, and it totally went away. You should totally try that! People take too many narcotics this days, and you're just a victim of overmedication."
Even if each of those things were true, they are mutually exclusive and not at all related to someone with a chronic, disabling condition. It's laughable naiveté at best, and deeply offensive ignorance at worst. You're using the totally unrelated experience of a buddy of yours to invalidate my pain, my reality, and silence my voice. You're using your own ignorance to deny me my right to receive care without stigma and judgment.
Bringing it back to the subject at hand: kids who are hyperactive because they're excited or bored, or become fidgety and moody after missing their nap, are not even remotely related to the child who has been suffering from a neurological disorder every single day for 6+ months of their life. Just because you personally can't tell the difference between a temporary state and a chronic disorder, doesn't mean the latter child should be denied the medication that could help them, and their family stigmatized and ostracized for pursuing it.

It doesn't help that some mental health terminology has been appropriated into slang, (like being, "So OCD" or, "Totally ADD!") which not only contributes to ignorance about these disorders, but tends to downplay the reality of living with them. If you truly believe you're "so OCD" for alphabetizing your DVD collection, you probably don't care too much about the suffering of your room-mate who is up all night checking the locks. Mental illness isn't a cute accessory; it's generally a fucking nightmare.
You may have a teacher you tells you that your kid has ADHD because they fidget, and you're angry that they don't know shit, but this doesn't somehow mean ADHD doesn't exist. This same teacher isn't going to magically force your child to take pills they don't need for a disorder they don't have; they're just fucking annoying… so don't turn around and start spouting shit about how every child who does take medication is being forced into it. And you sitting in the schoolyard ranting about how kids are "overmedicated" and "ADHD is a farce" is really not helping the other moms nearby who went through the unnecessarily agonizing decision of treating their own children for disorders that made them unable to function… children who are now experiencing happiness, hobbies, friends and life for the first time. Because even while seeing their children blossom with joy, these mothers still feel deep guilt and shame because people like you will take one look at them and say, "Poor kid, they're just special, they don't need all those toxic medications! I bet he'd be fine without them if he had a mom who would take the time to appreciate him".
That is what it feels like when you share that "don't medicate childhood! Imagination is not a mental illness!" crap on your wall.
So, thanks for that. Good job, asshole.

Cultural ignorance about mental illness does not negate it's existence, or the necessity of proper care and treatment. We do have a mental health care crisis, and this is why. As long as we keep arguing over whether or not it even exists, we will actively contribute to the ignorance surrounding proper care and the stigma of receiving it.
Children experience mental illness; they experience the isolation, shame and depression that comes along with having it. I know, because I was one of these children. I'm also now a mother who is raising one. These children deserve the right to access proper diagnostic care and treatment without stigma, and the chance to blossom upon receiving that care. This includes taking the same medications that may have saved your adult friend's life, allowed another friend to pursue higher education, cured your husband's anxiety, or allowed you to control your postpartum depression… and if you can admit it helped you or your loved ones, why deny the same to youth who suffer the same way?
So please, give children and their parents the same care… and stop sharing bullshit about how these kids are having their childhoods stolen from them, when the reality is that through that treatment, it's being given back.

Comments

( 65 comments — Leave a comment )
gunshotbeauty
Mar. 20th, 2013 04:27 am (UTC)
i am far too tired to read this but i am certain i'd be raging and calling bullshit over this
bicrim
Mar. 20th, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
Yes to all of this, and thank you for writing it. It is ludicrous to think that mental illness springs forth on one's 18th birthday, fully formed, with not a symptom a minute before. Conflating our culture's serious issues with lack of developmentally appropriate education (making little kids sit for 6 hours, etc) with there being no such thing as childhood mental illness is absurd. Both are problems, we need to fix both issues, and they really have very little to do with one another.

Edited at 2013-03-20 04:40 am (UTC)
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 04:44 am (UTC)
Seriously most important point: "and they really have very little to do with one another."

YES THIS. ARGH.
smellykaka
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
Childhood mental illness sufferer here.

Diagnosis of these disorders (or recognition of the symptoms) are perceived as the fault of lazy mothers (because it's always about the mothers) who won't spank enough/spank too much/spoil/neglect/ignore their kids, and are otherwise incompetent failures that flunked out of Mommy Grad School.

Both my parents were completely hopeless at dealing with it. I've so far refrained from telling them about my views on the subject, since neither has asked me direct enough questions nor annoyed me enough (although Mum comes close, sometimes, when she either indirectly hints or explicitly says that my brother is the favourite son because he provided grandchildren).
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:25 am (UTC)
I hope it's translated that I'm not implying childhood neglect, abuse or withdrawal from proper care doesn't exist.... it surely does. Rather, my point was to say that the idea that "moms not appreciating awesome kids" is the 'cause' of ADHD etc diagnosis is... incredibly false.

Childhood abuse in cases of mental or physical illness is a huge issue; children who have mental or physical illness are far more likely to suffer abuse. It's an issue I think is sometimes related to what I talked about: lack of support and education. I don't want to paint these parents as victims - you should control yourself and know right from wrong - but I also think that increasing awareness, education and acceptance would greatly reduce the incidence of abuse (in cases that stem from frustration, ignorance, grief, isolation, loneliness or mental illness developing/exacerbated by these things for the primary carer).
I hope, in the case of your family, that one day you're able to talk to your parents about your experience. You never know, it might change some minds and give them the opportunity to learn some more about it.
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_delphiki_
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
I also want to say that while ADHD is serious and certainly needs treatment, I think it's downright child abuse to not medicate severe mental illness. Being a 9 year old with schizophrenia on appropriate medication with an amazing school isn't fun but unmedicated? He just wants to die and I don't blame him. Severely mentally ill kids are 40-60x sicker than their adult counterparts. I can't find the source. It was in the plethora of research I've read on this.

The other issue is that the best indicator for long term success with severe mental illness is an early and aggressive medication regimen.
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, this! Thank you, I was hoping you'd add some thoughts as well.

(ftr, I also think it's neglectful to *knowingly leave a child unmedicated* when they are suffering with severe mental illness, because it is really frightening and horrible to be a child who is experiencing it. I just watched this thing on Jani and childhood schizophrenia and the comments are just filled with people going, "omg so many unnecessary medications! Poor girl is so filled with toxins! If they'd just take her off I'm sure she'd be all better". Seriously wtf. Later on someone suggested that because her dad looks like he's stressed out, he must a violent temper and "did shaken baby" and caused her schizophrenia, which probably doesn't need pills. And they are completely serious).
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emilie1024
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
Amen! I work with students with ADD and ADHD (totally different things) and it pisses me off when I hear people saying it doesn't exist! Same with autism. I have 4 autistic students on my caseload. One of them the mom won't let her be tested for autism, but there's no doubt in my mind that she has it...she's displaying all the symptoms. I see how much this child is suffering on a daily basis because her mom is blind to what is going on...it's very sad.
altarflame
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
There's a family in PATH with a kid everyone knows is autistic, who HAS been tested, and (wtf) the mother is NOT TELLING HIM HE HAS AUTISM or ever talking to him about anything re: neurtypical vs not, because she "doesn't want him to feel different" and thinks "he doesn't need that right now" O_o He is a bright 11 year old, and EVERYONE around him knows. His older sister is in agony about how he'll feel lied to when he's older. It's such a mess.
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twobadmice
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
I want to link to this. To have more people read your intelligent needed response. This bullshit showed up on my feed, and I called it out but not as eloquently or efficiently or personally.
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
Be my guest! If it's public, share it. :)
crustyshoes
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
This really surprises me because I've never before heard of anyone denying that childhood mental illness exists. With all the evidence and history, how can anyone possibly believe that? Like you said, one doesn't magically develop a mental illness once one turns 18. I've only ever heard the opposite, which is news outlets and media talking about how children are overdiagnosed and over medicated. I have heard of many people against medication and find that a lot of people change their views once they know a child who medication has helped signficantly. For example, I worked with a student who ended up going on medication for ADHD. The parents were very against it but finally tried it as a last resort. The kid suddenly went from being a year behind to being at the top of his class within weeks. He was just 6 years old but was able to say "I like my medication because my stomach isn't doing flips anymore". I've read Tempest's story with medication and this child's story sounds very similar in terms of how it has helped him and changed his life. Like you say at the end of your post, his childhood was given back through appropriate treatment. Something does need to be done about the views on mental illness and treatment, definitely, but even more so if people are denying that it exists at all. I just can't even believe that!
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
The thing is, when the main conversation about childhood mental illness centers around "OVER" diagnosis and "OVER" medication... it erases those who are suffering. It means we've managed to completely flip the issue around and now everyone thinks this shit doesn't exist at all.

The thing is, the primary medication for ADHD is a stimulant. Do you know what happens when you give a non ADHD brain a stimulant? It's like you gave that kid speed. SPEED! You'll pull your kid off that shit pretty fast.
The ADHD brain reacts differently to it; it gives you something you need and focuses you. This whole, "omg zombie children on ritalin, overmedication, gah" thing really drives me crazy.
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babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
Also: my childhood mental health was not handled well by physicians. My case was badly mismanaged, I was given medications I didn't need, and more to control the side effects of those. In the end I went off everything and found some stability... but this doesn't mean I didn't need any medication all along, or that I couldn't benefit from it even today.
Mismanaged cases happen all the time, not just with kids, not just with mental health... so why is it that it's the ONLY THING we ever freaking talk about when it comes to kids mental health?

Everyone seems to easily contribute to the "kids get adhd medication they don't need" narrative, but no one seems to actually know any kids who were knowingly misdiagnosed, given meds "They don't need" and then suffered as a result. All I ever hear is random speculation of, "I knew this kid, his mom said he had ADHD and put him on meds. So sad, he's just slightly energetic and there's nothing truly wrong with him" - which is just an example of their own startling lack of empathy.
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dwer
Mar. 20th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
I'd give this to my ex for her to read, but I know it would go right over her head.
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
My sympathies that you have to deal with someone like that in your life.
dwer
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
oh, if only that were the worst. Still, it was difficult to overcome his certainty that he was not sick at all when she kept insisting that he was fine.
wowomom
Mar. 20th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
I am inclined to slightly disagree with you, but only for one reason. 2 weeks ago while meeting with my daughter's teacher, assistant principle, and speech therapist the teacher said that during circle time my daughter has trouble paying attention. She even flat out said the phrase ADHD. That pissed me off. Just because my 7 year old has trouble paying attention while sittimg on the floor with 20 other 7 year olds does not make her ADHD. Iif the conversation hadn't quickly moved in a different direction I would have had strong words.

ADHD is a medical condition that is diagnosed by a Medical Doctor. Not a 1st grade teacher who is frustrated with a fidgety 7 year old. I refuse to take my kid to the doctor to be medicated for a condition her teacher thinks she has. I've known kids (from school, working at a summer camp, and friend's children) who really are ADHD and they are just as you described, they CANNOT physically hold still (more than borred fidgets), their thoughts are running constantly, and they are nearly in distress when their meds wear off at the end of the day. That does not describe my kid.

So while I fully agree with medicating kids that really and truely need it, I resent that elementary school teachers think they can push parents to medicate a kid whohas trouble sitting still.
babyslime
Mar. 20th, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
I mentioned that phenomenon, and how it has nothing to do with the reality of kids requiring treatment. It's insulting, or annoying, or whatever... but that person's ignorance does not mean ADHD doesn't exist. They're not giving your kid a diagnosis. They're not giving your kid meds. That person may be an idiot, but when you react to that with the, "omg so overdiagnosed, omg meds they don't need" (when neither of those things even remotely happened to you) you're actively contributing to the culture that is stigmatizing children who ARE sufferers.
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(Anonymous)
Mar. 21st, 2013 01:27 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you. My son was diagnosed with ADHD last year and went from reading 1 word to reading at grade level less than six months. When he was 5 he told me "Mommy, I don't like acting this way but I can't control myself. I can't stop it'. If that isn't a cry for help I don't know what is! He started on biphentin last year and it slowly stopped being effective so now he's on Concerta. His dose just got upped in January because of growth spurts. It is a constant balancing act to ensure that he is on the proper dose and the proper med. He is not a zombie, he is the better version of himself; he is the true version of himself. He is the child that my husband and I had glimpses of and now the rest of the world can see him too. He is bright, kind and crazy super funny. His behaviours (and they were severe) are now all but gone. I am sick and tired of people judging me for medicating my son, being a lazy parent or simply a bad parent. I am a strong parent for giving my child everything he needs to succeed in life. He also has Cerebral Palsy and no one has ever questioned me on him wearing leg braces! BTW, he's a twin and I always countered those who judged me with the statement "If this was my fault, wouldn't both my twins have this diagnosis and need medication."
babyslime
Mar. 21st, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Yes, yes and more yes! Thank you for sharing. <3

Concerta is what Tempest takes too. I heard about it first from other moms who had success... it's worked SO WELL for her!
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chem_nerd
Mar. 22nd, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC)
BTW, he's a twin and I always countered those who judged me with the statement "If this was my fault, wouldn't both my twins have this diagnosis and need medication."

I'm surprised you don't get judgmental pricks using the twins argument to somehow say that it's your fault because they don't both have the diagnosis - I've actually heard that pile of bullshit before with both ADD and autism. Are they identical twins, or fraternal? Even if they're identical, many conditions - even those we know or suspect to be largely genetic - don't have a 100% co-incidence rate among identical twins. Strictly X-linked conditions like Duchenne's, hemophillia and red-green colorblindness are (I'm pretty sure, at least), but autism, despite the fact that we're pretty damn sure there's a genetic link somewhere does not have a 100% co-incidence rate among identical twins. It's pretty high - I think it's above 98% - but it isn't 100%. I would be surprised if it was 100% with ADHD. Given that cerebral palsy is a neuro condition, and I think I read somewhere that it has a comorbidity rate with both ADHD and ASD higher than can be statistically attributed to chance, I wouldn't be surprised if the two were related.
chem_nerd
Mar. 22nd, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Are there kids who get false positive diagnoses? Probably. Does that mean that true positives don't exist? Hell, no. Do kids get overmedicated sometimes? Yeah - been there, done that. Does that mean that those medications are never necessary, or even that they aren't sometimes necessary for those very same kids? Hell, no.

I was diagnosed with ADD at age 7. Asperger's at age 17. And, as an appetizer, a lovely little alphabet soup of right-brain dysfunction, developmental dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and probably a few other things nobody told me about because I was six and wouldn't have known (or cared) what they were. Ritalin and, later, Adderall were what enabled me to succeed academically - between the non-existent attention span and the sensory integration problems, I simply was not able to handle a classroom as a child unmedicated. I'm very lucky that my parents discovered this early. Similarly, between chronic anxiety problems, depression induced by being bullied, and chronic depression and sleep problems because I simply do not produce enough seretonin, I would likely not have made it through puberty reasonably intact without Prozac. I'm still on the Prozac, and expect to be for the rest of my life. Even as an adult, there are still respects in which I would benefit from Adderall. Unfortunately, my dose was raised too high when I was in high school, and it has caused ongoing problems - I can no longer tolerate any stimulant stronger than caffeine, and not too much of that. I have to scrutinize the labels of vitamin-fortified drinks for ginko and ginseng before I drink them - I can tolerate neither. I've got chronically bad sinuses, but Sudafed is chemically similar to Adderall, to the point that half an adult dose will spike my pulse from 70 to 140 - needless to say, the doc says I don't get to do that anymore. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't give kids with ADD Adderall - that just means that if your patient is a scrawny 140 lb teenager with a history of overstimulating easily, you should maybe be a little circumspect about putting her on three times the dose used by her 210 lb father. (The dose was raised because I'd hit that last big growth spurt, and 10 mg was no longer cutting it. In retrospect, we should maybe have tried 20 mg instead of going right to 30 mg. The scrip was actually written for 50 mg - It's probably a good thing that I never took that much. Even so, when I was in college, I started getting major overmedication symptoms from it, to the point where, even if I just took 10 mg, my roommate could tell if I'd just taken my meds because I'd be incredibly jittery. At that point, I decided it would be better if Adderall and I parted company. But I wouldn't have succeeded in middle and high school without it.)
the_shortcake
Mar. 24th, 2013 03:33 am (UTC)
"It doesn't help that some mental health terminology has been appropriated into slang, (like being, "So OCD" or, "Totally ADD!") which not only contributes to ignorance about these disorders, but tends to downplay the reality of living with them."
this.
remember a few years ago when "bipolar" was the favored internet insult? now its "borderline" lobbed around like people choose that shit. like "oh, i was abused as a child and i am filled with terror, paranoia, instability, mood swings and depression. say, why dont you fling my diagnosis at me like a curse word because the effects of my trauma irritate you."
oh my god, all that shit pisses me off. i Call people Out on that shit. >:( (sorry, digression)
bluealoe
Mar. 27th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for this post. I wanted to stand and applaud after I read it, and it should be required reading for anyone dealing with children in any context.

I'm sure there are kids who have been misdiagnosed and/or mismedicated. But that doesn't mean that mental illnesses or disorders aren't real, and it doesn't erase the existence of those who have struggled with them.

The people who promote this "don't medicate childhood" kind of thinking tend to have this idea that disorders like ADHD are nothing more than a mild exaggeration of typical childhood behaviour.

I think this is a big part of the problem. Having a short attention span can be frustrating, but it's nothing like ADHD. Being sad isn't fun, but it's nothing like clinical depression. I'm sure there are some parents who demand their children be given medication/treatment for things like short attention spans, but the number of people who do that is infinitesimally small.

Looking back, I know I had Social Anxiety Disorder from a young age, but it wasn't properly diagnosed or treated until I was about 16. Most people thought I was just shy, but it went far far beyond that. It seriously affected my avility to talk to people, to make friends, to do basic things like go to a store. My parents did the best they could; they knew something was wrong, and they tried to help, but they didn't know SAD was a thing, or that it could be treated. I started taking medicine when I was a teenager, and developed coping strategies, but man, it would have been easier if treatment had happened earlier.

(Sidenote: My honorary grandma had a son with schizophrenia, and at the time there was no treatment or support available in Alaska. So she started the first Alaska chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness, started support groups for families with mentally ill children, and fought long and hard for a local treatment center. She succeeded, and they eventually named the treatment center after her. She was freaking amazing.)

*hugs tight*
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