Two phrases that mean little, but that are cliches bandied about journalists. We journos love a catchy cliche, however unhelpful they are. This piece by Nicholas Hellen in yesterday’s Sunday Times is no different. The medication is not a chemical cosh, it’s a stimulant – that helps ADHD concentrate. They may become more focussed, but they don’t turn into zombies, or someone knocked out or whacked out on downers. And with around 3% of the population suffering from ADHD, many in the UK undiagnosed, particularly if adults, it is unlikely that they are over-prescribed in some areas, more likely to be underprescribed. I would look forward to getting hold of the data properly and checking it against the % of the population. Most likely the patchy provision for people in, say, Portsmouth – where fewer mental health adhd specialist nurses operate mean that it is hard to get a diagnosis.
I would expect that the above “postcode lottery” is not showing an over-precription of “chemical coshes” to children, but an “under-diagnosis” due to lack of CAMHS resourcing in the area.
Thanks to Scott Barry Kaufman for this great positive piece on the power of creativity and ADHD here in the Scientific American. The Author Kaufman suggests that there is a link between a fast brain that allows unfiltered messages to come through all the time, and unfettered imagination. Acting on impulse is not always bad – especially if you use those impulses to create something new. And working memory…pah, who needs it when it comes to artistic or scientific endeavour. Isn’t google our new working memory after all these days?
When the Guardian writes a piece about preschoolers and ADHD, as they do here , we don’t expect it to scaremonger or to conform to prejudices around this complex neurodevelopmental disorder. We expect some breast beating from the Daily Mail or the Telegraph, but we hope for sense from the Guardian. However, while medicating preschoolers is controversial, ADHD medication (please don’t call it drugs – this not pushing recreational ecstasy tablets or making toddlers smoke joints) is immediately written off as a Bad Thing – without any explanation for what type of medication it is. Continue reading “Pre-schoolers and ADHD medication – scary? Not so much…”→
I’ve just been in to meet with my son Michael’s head of year, two teachers and Special Needs co-ordinator. None of them seemed to think that excluding my ADHDer from sport yesterday was not the best way forward when they also wanted to talk about his challenging behaviour in class. As they went on and on about how he liked to “challenge the rules”, and his mis-behavioural points, I wanted to say that – like a Golden Retriever dog that always brings back the ball – he wasn’t going to change. And I couldn’t help thinking – “well you have the power, if you don’t want to argue the toss over the rules with him – just don’t engage’.
More worryingly for me, is that he doesn’t have the choice to challenge his exclusion once again from extra-curricular activities. Last term he was made to sit in a library while others were outside playing games, because he was deemed a “risk” (to himself? to others?). Despite the fact that he had a giant black eye from a friend hitting him in the face during hockey after school (we are used to Michael being accident prone and didn’t complain) this time Michael was the culprit. Except Michael was excluded from hockey club for hitting another boy with the hockey stick.
Doctors are getting themselves in a right twist. In response to the previous post on the New York Times piece, Behavioural Neurologist Dr Richard Saul in Chicago has waded in, puffing his provocatively titled book called “ADHD does not Exist” (ironically reviewed by Belinda Luscombe on the same site as one of the Top Ten ADHD books here ). Dr Saul’s stance argued on the Time Magazine’s website here has a particular beef with the new diagnostic manual for mental health (DSM V), which awards ADHD to anyone displaying a minimum of five out of 18 possible symptoms.
His views will no doubt curry favour with Daily Mail readers, who do see this massive upsurge in ADHD diagnosis and medication as a problem, and also with those who feel that taking medication for ADHD is in some way “cheating” in life – whether offering extra focus at school or in the workplace (something that is shown to be not the case in the more level-headed recent Time Magazine piece by Denise Foley in another piece . Foley points out that even with meds, the attention of an ADHD child is still below the par of a “normal” child in school).
Anyone who has been touched by ADHD considers US-based Dr Hallowell as something of a guru. And, on the eve of ADHD Awareness month, the Crossley Family managed to persuade him across the pond to talk to those affected by ADHD in the UK. An author of 20 books, a self-professed ADHDer himself, with dyslexia, and a father to two ADHD boys – Ned Hallowell also runs a psychiatry practice in New York, and advocates what he calls a “strength-based” or positive approach to the condition.
One of the more fascinating nuggets to emerge from this book is that ADHDers create negative dynamics in many areas of their lives because “negative information and stimulation weigh more heavily on the brain than positive information and stimulation, thus creating brain activity”*.