The Joys of ADHD
Hi, my name is Michael, and I've been diagnosed with ADHD. Sometimes it feels like I’m standing in front of an ADHD Anonymous Group when people hear that I have ADHD. But I don’t look at it like a “disorder” because it helps me in so many areas of my life.
I was checking my voicemail the other day and my clinical manager Kellie Cole (she works at my counseling center in The Woodlands, Texas and is the reason we have an ethical and superb training facility for professionals and students) left me a rather long voice message. I hate long voice messages and will typically delete them if I feel like they’re wasting my time (which is very Christ-like of me, I know). Kellie was going on about something important, so I didn't erase it right away. The problem was that the message was so long (and I have ADHD) that after a few minutes I forgot I was listening to a voicemail and actually started talking back to Kellie, so we could interact about her question. I swear to you that this really happened. I truly started talking to Kellie as if she were on the phone, which is pretty stinking funny if you think about it. There I was driving in my car checking my voicemails, and all of a sudden I started talking to the voice on my cell phone, wanting it to interact with me, expecting it to interact with me. It was a horrible scene for about 15 seconds, because as Kellie was talking on my voicemail, I interrupted her to give my feedback! I said something like, “You know, this is what…” and I got irritated because she continued to talk, even while I was trying to talk!
Kellie is lucky that she wasn't really on the phone to hear me say she was fired. But after about 15 seconds of confusion on my part, I finally remembered that I was only listening to “cyber” Kellie, and no matter how much I wanted her to treat me with respect and not talk over me, that was not a possibility. I laughed so hard at myself that I had to pull over to gather my emotions to make the drive safe for all those on the highway that day.
If you’re a doctor or therapist who has over-diagnosed ADHD or ADD with children or adults, you might want to stop reading this entry now. Just walk away and don’t read another word; you won’t like what I’m about to say, but it has to be said.
Too many people misunderstand the major increase in kids or adults getting diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, and I’m getting tired of this problem. Yes…ADHD and ADD do exist and actually impact the lives of real people. No…it is not as prevalent or widespread as we have all been lead to believe. I’m no medical doctor or psychiatrist, but I have been diagnosed with ADHD, and I do have a heart and understanding for this issue. I've been working as a counselor with kids, singles, couples, and families for a lot of years now, and I've personally experienced these diagnoses being over prescribed.
The reality (or at best, my opinion) is that for years, probably starting in the late 80s or early 90s, insurance companies, who pay the professionals who diagnose this “disorder”, paid for the diagnosis. I believe that professionals on all levels were encouraged to diagnose this disorder, because it made them money. I know there are always good people who are doing their best to diagnose properly, but if you look at the increase in diagnoses in that time, it looks fishy.
Dr. William B. Carey wrote in his article, “What to do about the ADHD epidemic”(1),
“In the last two decades the United States has experienced a great increase in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its treatment with stimulants. Much of the public is confused, and now apprehensions are mounting with the extension of the diagnosis and drug use into preschool years. Some of us pediatric moderates are trying to mediate between the conservative defenders of the present imperfect construct and the radical critics who regard the diagnosis as a fraud.” Dr. Carey goes on to explain how the DSM-IV (diagnostic manual for clinicians) does a poor job on defining ADHD and distinguishing it from normal behavior.
Look, it’s not that confusing or scary to understand ADHD. Don’t get caught up in all the hoopla surrounding it and the controversies. Does you child need medication? I always encourage parents (or adults who are thinking of medicating themselves) to look at their child’s life as objectively as possible by asking these very important questions:
a) Does my child have any friends?? This is an important question. Typically, kids with ADHD will have a difficult time making friends, because they are so hyper and “obnoxious” that other kids don’t like to hang around them much.
b) What are my child’s grades like?? If your child is getting C’s or above, then I seriously doubt he/she needs to be on medication. Not every child is meant to get all "As" or "As" and "Bs." I’m not just saying this because I was one of those kids, but because it’s true. Frankly, if you've read anything about emotional intelligence, you’d know that straight "As" doesn't mean squat when it comes to future success in business, life, or making money.
c) How do you feel about your child?? If your own kid irritates the life out of you, because he can’t ever shut it off, then you might need to look into medication (or maybe changing your parenting or discipline methods; which I would look at first if it were me).
If your child is so hyper that his grades are failing, his friendships are nonexistent, and you have a hard time being around him, then make sure you get him into counseling with a professional therapist who specializes in kids and ADHD. Outside of these issues, be careful you’re not medicating your child’s personality and not a disorder. School is designed for the quiet, listening, mellow kids who love to sit all day and soak in all the knowledge of their teachers. School is not designed for fun loving, hyper-personalities, who love to learn through experience and not listening. Schools are getting better, but quiet kids are still rewarded for their behavior while interactive kids are typically shut down.
But what do I know?