My commentary to the NY Times Article published Dec. 14th, 2013 online…http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/health/the-selling-of-attention-deficit-disorder.html commentsContainer
This article brings up so many issues – many of which have been heard before, but this has some very valid and irritating points.
I work daily with individuals who struggle with ADHD. I am a Productivity Coach who specializes in those with ADHD or those with some or most of the symptoms. My clients are generally college students and entrepreneurs. Often they have just received a diagnosis and don’t know what it means. Others are suspicious but don’t have an actual diagnosis. For my work to be useful, it makes no difference. And it doesn’t matter if a person is medicated or not because I work with the skills that every person – with or without ADHD – needs to master to be successful in life. Period. Those with the challenges of ADHD just end up learning things a little differently and often need to be taught ways to help their brain work to their advantage. And there are ways!
It like the old joke about the guy who goes to the doctor for eye glasses to see better and he asks the doctor, “Will these help me to read?” and the doctor replies, “Well, yes, they will.” And the patient responds, “Great, because I could never read before.”
The medication won’t help you become better organized or manage your time properly if you never learned to do that earlier. The medication only allows your mind to be better able to focus on what you are intending to do. If you couldn’t do something before the drug, it’s not going to teach you to do it. You still need to learn the skill sets to do certain things, such as scheduling, planning, prioritizing, organizing, sequencing, delaying gratification (being responsible), waiting your turn (social interactions), and learning how to study and/or get your work done.
I sometimes hear people who actually ‘want’ to be diagnosed with ADHD to either justify why they can’t get things done, or to be given some pill they think has magical powers to make them better at doing something they simply aren’t good at. Well, to those people I tell them they may not even have ADHD, but regardless they still need to learn certain skills to run their life and the sooner they learn them the better. With or without having ADHD.
My son, now in college, struggled greatly with not only ADHD, but OCD and ODD. He was a handful, and for mehe was almost a full-time job. Even when he was in school, I was called several times a month to intervene to help the teachers deal with him. He needed to learn certain skills to get through life, and while he did eventually get them, it took quite some time. He got bored easily, as most with ADHD do – so providing the right kind of stimulation for his brain was crucial to keeping him engaged.
For two years after he was given a very clear diagnosis (by 4 independent specialists), we tried every alternative option to help him. Medication was our very last resort. It wasn’t until he started to have violent tantrums from the frustration of not being able to sustain attention to accomplish anything that we looked at medication. He didn’t like it and neither did we, but we settled on a very small dose of Ritalin on an, ‘as needed’ basis. He now administers it before he has a huge project to focus on or a big exam. He doesn’t abuse it, nor does he take recreational drugs or drink. He prefers not to need to take medication, but sees it helps him greatly. He’s a healthy, 6’1” young man and super smart. He knew he would need to learn ways to do things in his life that were difficult for him, so he discovered tools and tricks along the way. He even INVENTED two Apps that help others like himself!
He realized he will have ADHD to deal with his entire life, so better he figure out what works for him sooner versus later so he can circumvent potential problems in the future.
For those who really struggle with ADHD, it’s no joke. For those who have difficulties managing the symptoms of it, I say “learn everything you can.” And before taking a drug and expecting it to do magic, learn the skills to manage what you will need to know for the rest of your life. With or without medication – if you don’t learn to manage your life, you won’t see positive results.