Science has shown therapy to be crucial in the treatment of ADHD. In some cases, therapy has been shown to reduce medication and get rid of it altogether. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends preschool aged children (4-5 years) try therapy first before medication. But due to long wait lists, children with ADHD aren't able to access therapy quick enough in Ontario.
What kind of mom drugs her kid? The mom who is tired of walking on eggshells, wondering who her child will hurt today. The mom who is tired of watching her baby suffer inside his own skin. The mom who, fighting back tears, dutifully takes the scrap of paper from the doctor with the round glasses.... What mom does that, anyway? The kind who will do whatever it takes to help her child feel better, even if it means doing precisely the thing she vowed never to do.
To come across a neighbour or a friend questioning the validity of ADHD today is one thing. Coming across a teacher or a principal lacking knowledge about ADHD today is concerning. But to encounter an article in a prominent publication written by a therapist treating children with ADHD being shared on social media in today's day and age from a so-called expert that dumbs down the etiology of ADHD to a child's own "internal belief system" and the "pampering and coddling" of parents is more than insulting. It's dangerous.
We are a long way off from identifying definitive biomarkers and personalized gene therapies are likely generations away. The hype is big, but our hope is misplaced. The science isn't there yet, and the sooner we stop putting our faith in near-miraculous breakthroughs, the sooner we can realistically survey the options at hand.
Often adults will describe situations where they feel less interested, perhaps a little bored, and then they become more prone to procrastination, distractibility and forgetfulness. Against this, adults can often focus much better in novel stimulating situations, and in this way ADHD may be viewed as an "engagement deficit" condition depending on the context.
I tell my patients, "Mental illnesses are medical illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease." Most of them struggle to believe me because they know that many people, even people who love them, think they can just "get over" their illnesses. And they're equally as hard on themselves. So let's talk about what causes mental illness, and why that question (and answer) are pretty complicated.
Experts say you shouldn't praise children. I'm no psychologist, but I think they're wrong. Kids absolutely need to be praised. They deserve to be celebrated -- for the right reasons. I don't beat on to my son about how smart or handsome he is (though of course I'm biased on both counts). But when I know he has done something especially challenging, I don't skimp on the praise.
Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel -- all have ADHD. They have found ways to find complete order in their disorder. Once out of the structured school system, ADHD is not a disorder, but rather a beneficial trait in the working world. Perhaps this is why the creative CEOs we know and love today are so successful.
No kid comes with a guidebook. Kids with developmental disabilities of all kinds, both physical and neurological, are as diverse in thought, behaviour, strengths and weaknesses as their neuro-typical peers. With the added anxiety of raising very different children from what is expected, stress levels are higher, parenting is harder and divorce runs rampant among special needs parents. That is why it is so important for them to remain on the same side.
For parents with children away at university, it can be a giant leap of faith to step back and let their young adult children be independent, and know that they will be okay. Most young adults transition to university without difficulty and take charge of this new independent phase of their lives with motivation to do well and the skills to navigate their academic and social lives. But for some young adults, the stress of being on their own to manage the academic and social demands of university life may be a breaking point that heralds or worsens mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.
To really nail the concept of what mental illness is and how it affects both those who live with it and those who live with us, here are a few tips to guide in what I hope will be an ever-growing trend to encourage communication and break down the stereotypes. So without further ado, here are things to refrain from saying to someone with mental illness.
Being out in nature is good for anyone, but it's great for a lot of us ADHDers. Many of us feel markedly better in the woods, walking along the shoreline, hiking in the mountains, anywhere pretty and pristine in a natural setting. It's worth a shot to get out there with your kids at least once a week to see if this helps keep them on an even keel.