ADD rant: research girl to the rescue, part one

I have some small concerns about parenting differences between my style and the grandies‘ methods. I want to avoid being really snarky or judgemental- they are delightful, amazingly sweet people with the most pure and warm love for their kids and grand kids. There are some small lifestyle things that just don’t jive with my desire to improve my life and make steps toward a crunchier Family of Boo. Their diet and TV habits are the biggest things. (They also clean with the most powerful germ fighting action supercharged chemical products they can find, and I just found out they’d sprayed some flea killer on the carpet which “says it’s OK after it dries.” Ergh.) Anyway, they are great people but they don’t question the Wal-Mart ethos of our culture like I try to do. My point here is not to come off as a pretentious fuck, but to illustrate my point that we have different approaches.

This is why I was overjoyed when I talked to Papaw about my nephew Bren’s new diagnosis of ADD. Papaw is unthrilled about the idea of medicating him, and given my resources (i.e. high speed internet access, kickass Google-Fu, and occupational therapists and behavioral specialists at work who depend on my expertise to deliver their phone messages correctly) I volunteered to look for non-drug treatment options.

The flipside of my excitement is a cynical feeling that Papaw will completely dismiss my ideas when I tell him that Bren needs way, way, way less screen time with both TV and gaming, some diet modifications, and a lot of really hands on creative parenting. He just is so resistant to change, as evidenced by the whole ice cream debacle. In a nutshell for those who didn’t read the old mommy blog: Skinny kid, nurse practitioner suggests ice cream in with milk in sippy cup, Roxy freaks out, discusses wish for Emsy’s healthy eating with Papaw and he scoffs that we’ll have to change our diets too then, Roxy responds: Um, duh? We’re all fatasses!

I don’t know… it’s not like I don’t have enough mommy worries for my own Boue, but Bren just needs something to jump start his little life. He just turned 10. He lives mostly at the grandies‘ with a lot of time at his mom’s. His mom and dad (brother of Bu, whom I’ll call Chaz) were pretty young when he was born and broke up very shortly after. Chaz lives, in theory, with the grandies, but he doesn’t spend the quantity or quality of time with Bren that the kid wants/needs, in my judgemental and biased opinion. Bren’s been diagnosed with OCD and anxiety in the past. I just adore the child. He is so cool, so smart and witty. I see my teen and twenties self in him, and it kills me to imagine that darkness and doubt in a ten year old.

Gods… anyway, just got carried away explaining myself to death. And now I’ll just skip to the relevant part:

I believe in treating all illnesses in the least invasive and “medical” way that is effective. (For example, my mild depression/moderate anxiety probably be OK with exercise, light, and herbs; but if I get my butt in gear to do that stuff and see no improvement, I’ll try the birth control or even SSRI’s again.) I know that mental illnesses of all kinds seem to be pandemic in our (my) society, and I question whether this might be a symptom of an “illness” or a failing at a cultural level- something like nature deficit disorder only I’d frame it in spiritual terms. I think that mental disorders are both under and over diagnosed– I suppose it’s more succinct to just say that the whole field is terrifically misunderstood. I also believe that a humongous ginormous colossal number of ADD cases are complete bullshit. I think the symptoms are real but to medicalize the less than extreme cases is just pop psych being so fucking in love with itself it has to classify a different and fascinating personality pattern as a disease.

So, that out of the way, I’ll get to the really, actually, unambiguously relevant part:

Most of you are parents so a good number of you might at some point have to deal with ADD or similar personalities. When I’m finished being research girl and have sufficiently willowed some solutions for coping with ADD without drugs, I’ll share. Might help somebody, and at the very least will help me keep my links in a central location. So. Part two in a li’l bit.

*Edit*
I just had a brain wave and decided I’ll write this up in article form and submit it to Crazy Hip Blog Mamas. They’re wanting more participatory members and I’m wanting to practice writing more purposefully in case I decide to really try to blog for money. (Elsewhere, that is, I need my pure expression, geek-out-with-the-baby-bliss-&/or-angst outlet:)

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6 responses to “ADD rant: research girl to the rescue, part one

  1. Part of our societal problem is that we expect weird things from kids… that they all “should” sit still, even the ones who clearly need to run and jump and be active. Yet, learning is sitting and reading.

    Add to this the busyness of our culture — over scheduling with TONS of chores and the need to always be doing doing doing. And the Boob Tube and computer/ texting/ electronica… And the not paying any attention to kids (which leads them to not be able to pay attention — children learn what they live)…

    = recipe for ADHD.

    Yes, indeed! Write it up, grrl!!!

  2. oh yes, i agree with you a lot.
    first of all, what lexie said. kids of course have more trouble focusing because they spend too much time in front of the “idiot box”. and it’s so much more convenient to have your child diagnosed with some disorder than admitting that you haven’t been paying enough attention to him (well, so maybe it is an attention deficit disorder). and more than twice as much boys are diagnosed than girls. kids, mostly boys, who were just called fidgety, sassy or even unruly in the past are now diagnosed with an “disorder”.

    sadly, i don’t have much advice on therapy. i’m quite opposed to treating children at that age with ritalin. i don’t believe it’s a good idea to let a childs brain get used to that kind of junk. i know amphetamines can do beautiful things to you, i also know they can cause bad damage. never mind the low doses and little side effects, i just think it’s not good to get used to it early in your childhood. there is still no evidence what later addictions this will pave the road for.

    i know very little about alternatives. a friend of mine, whose son was diagnosed with ADD at age 7, has cut all artifical food additives such as food colorings and artificial flavors from her families diet, as well as drastically reduced the amount of sugar they take in. it seems to have done some good. another friend, who works at a kindergarden, says they replaced all sweets by bananas, nuts and whole grain stuff which are supposed to be high in magnesium, vitamin b and/or omega 3 fatty acids, which in turn seem to help the ADD.
    that’s all i really know about it, i guess. i hope you can talk some sense into the grandies. i know it’s not easy at that age, my dad’s the same. don’t get me wrong, he’s not senile, but he still believes he knows everything better than his little girl.

  3. One of the more interesting theories I’ve heard of points the finger at the fact that never before has THIS many people lived THIS close to each other. And it can’t be good for the brain.

    I know in my case, a lot of things are moderated with exercise and silence, two rarities today for me.

    As for ADD? Meditation may also help.

  4. the weirdgirl

    It’s funny, I agree with a lot of your rant, but not with the other commenters here. I grew up with two brothers who were hyperactive/borderline ADD. I do think lots of “structure” and a good environment helps A LOT, i.e. scheduled homework times and activities, limited unstructured tv time, and keeping to the same schedule every day. I don’t necessarily believe ADD is either a product of the “idiot box” or modern society. If you look at history there were many places where people lived in much closer proximity to each other (in horrid conditions, I might add) and children were often sent to work instead of going to school (and beaten if they didn’t do what they were told). I think ADD gets diagnosed now because they are learning more about it every day. I do think it gets over-diagnosed at times, but I’d still rather live in this era where we have medications available (that we can choose to take or not) than in an era where there was no medication or when women were given hysterectomies to treat depression.

    Sorry to do a rant of my own. I just get frustrated when people lay everything at the fault of “modern society”. They are often people who don’t understand how truly awful life was in earlier centuries. And for the record, I was raised by hippies and an organic lifestyle. But depression also runs in my family and sometimes drugs really do save your life. I think our biggest problem today is labeling people as having something “wrong” or not “not normal” with them, such as ADD or depression, when it’s really just having different needs.

  5. My nephew has AD/HD. He has had good success with a combination of biofeedback and meds. Both have been vitally important.

  6. weirdgirl, i didn’t mean to say that ADD is a product of tv or modern society. what i meant is that the “idiot box” for example causes behaviour in a child that is easily diagnosed as ADD because symptoms are very similar and parents don’t look deeper into what their child may be missing. that way many children are medicated that didn’t need meds in the first place but just some more attention, physical challenge and a healthy diet. sorry if i didn’t make myself very clear here.

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