Attention Deficit Disorder continued...


Attention Deficit Disorder continued...
The ones that are disadvantaged most are the low income earners, & those on government benefits. About 50,000 Australian children are now believed to be taking stimulant medication to help with their symptoms. How can ADHD be over-diagnosed when this only attributes to 10% of the total expected, conservative figures? One would presume that there would be less adults than children diagnosed, unless the adults had no children. Besides, children are normally easier to pick up on their symptoms compared to adults, who in may cases have learnt coping mechanisms so that their symptoms are less obvious.

What came to light was that many had sought treatment from their Family Doctors (and I had over 120 phone calls & e-mails until I stopped counting!) . Many had been put on anti-depressants and told that adults do not get this Many had been put on anti-depressants and told that adults do not get this disorder! You mean that the ADHD fairy comes along at the age of 18 and says "you are now an adult, you do not have ADHD anymore · Be gone! Cope! GROW UP!"? Sorry, but this does not compute... Another thing that TOTALLY amazed me was that only two of the women with diagnosed children were asked what they were like as children, ending in a referral to a specialist for themselves. Many had to bring up the possibility of their ADHD with the doctors. The possibility that it came from an inherited element is extremely likely; 90 to 95% probable. How can a mother help her child with their problems, when the mother cannot handle her own? Compare this to flying in an aeroplane, the word from the captain is· It is going to crash land! You have your toddler with you·what do you do? Put the oxygen mask on your child first or on yourself? You put it on yourself first, otherwise who will help the child when you are dead? The same applies to ADHD mothers. You need to be able to help yourself before you can help your child, otherwise your stress levels go out of control, the marriage is affected and you are yelling incessantly at the child who only rebels even more. You are in a no win situation.

Anti-depressants do not address the root cause of the depression, although they can help immensely in some cases. Unfortunately family doctor's are, on the whole, not very astute at treating or even detecting this condition. I have spoken to grandmothers who finally twig that they may be ADHD like a couple of their grandkids, especially after their own child will exclaim to the grandchild "you are just like Grandma!" Why wasn't the question of a possible ADHD diagnosis asked and explored, especially when the mother was obviously stressed to the point that she needed anti-depressants? Why wasn't the question asked when, in extreme cases, the problem between mother and child has come to a stage, where the parents give up their children to community services, as they cannot control their own moods, let alone help their child? Mind you, these "mother's little helpers" called anti-depressants, only help stop the mother from stressing so much. It does not help with all the other things she has to cope with such as being disorganised at home, having her finances in a mess & no motivation. It just stops them from worrying about it as much. Take care of the problem (ADHD) and a lot of the time they do not need the anti-depressants. I have seen women emerge as a cleaning machine within 20 minutes of their first time on medication. It is like a fog has lifted, being able to "see" things that need doing for the first time, and being able to sort through the steps that you need to take to do the job.

Due to government constraints and policies, these people cannot get the treatment they deserve & need to have a productive life. Now this is what is so confusing to me··How can a government recognise ADHD as a disability? In fact, some people who are so severely affected by the disorder, are on a disability pension. Yet still, if Methylphenidate is prescribed, it is not covered by the government subsidy whether you are on a pension or not? The government has made it so hard for people to afford the treatment, that many just give up.
There are two main stimulants that are prescribed in Australia. One is dexamphetamine (Dexadrine), which with a health care card is cheaper, and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Attenta brand names) which is not subsidised at all. Many people have no choice but to be prescribed Ritalin because of side effects with Dexamphetamine. Yet they still have to pay the exhorbitant prices charged for methylphenidate. If you have a family of ADDers, the cost is truly frightening. Many ADDers have severe allergies as well that need medication. Australia, compared to the United States, is extremely limited with medication treatment and it will be a long time before we actually see an improvement in the situation. In the meantime, we will just muddle along, hoping that we have said the right thing, haven't forgotten to pick up the kids at school, remember to take out the night's dinner from the freezer & to stock up the toilet paper··Life goes on!

With a little understanding from the general public, education of family doctors and teachers, correct media reports, increased government involvement and acceptance for our "quirks" by the people who we come into contact with, then maybe we can just 'be', enjoy our 'selves' & have happy, stimulating & productive lives ·something everyone has a right to.

I underwent assessment in June and July of 2000. I knew that there was a problem & had actually booked in for assessment 4 years prior to be assessed, but the cost was so great that I could not afford the testing. This is required for a correct diagnosis. Being the true ADDer that I am, I procrastinated until I could not cope with the way my life was heading any further. Perhaps if I had taken up my parent's offer to pay for the assessment, I would have been better off, maybe not. All I know is that my kids would have been happier, hubby would have had less to deal with because of my lack of household organisational skills, and yes, I would have been happier.

You can't think like an ADDer anymore than an ADDer could think like you. Their brains work in a totally different way to the norm. In fact it is strong ADD traits that have been found in world leaders (Sir Winston Churchill, the Kennedys) and some of the world's biggest, scientific brains (Edison, Einstein, Marie Curie). Musical geniuses (Mozart), war hero's, leading entrepreneurs (Richard Branson) and of course some of the funniest people to grace our planet (Robin Williams, Billy Connelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher) have either been diagnosed, or have presented, with Attention Deficit Disorder traits! It is amazing how many of our favourite TV programme's are based on ADHD type characters such as The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Friends (Joey and Phoebe·, and the cartoon Pepper Ann, to name a few.

No, I don't find being ADHD negative, not at all. The only negative thing I can see are misinformed people and those with no compassion. The sooner people can see that ADHD is an ADDition and not a CONdition, the happier, healthier and a more accepting our children will grow to be. I am in good company and with all the little quirks·. I like me just the way I am!

By Judie Gade
ADDventurous Support Co-ordinator
Coach and Counsellor

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