Is A.D.H.D stigma gone? Do the drugs work?

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 900 parents whose children have been diagnosed with A.D.H.D. to find out what it’s like to live with A.D.H.D. today. Here’s a snapshot of what it found:

From The New York Times:

* 67 percent found drug therapy to be the most effective treatment, followed by switching to a more accommodating school (45 percent), giving one instruction at a time (39 percent), working with a private tutor or learning specialist (37 percent) and providing structure by maintaining a schedule of activities helped 35 percent.”

“* 84 percent of those in the survey tried medication at some point, and more than half of the children tried two or more medications in the past three years.”

“* Medications, parents say, are most helpful with improving academic performance and behavior at school (35 percent described it as very effective). They are not as useful in mitigating behavior at home (26 percent), improving social relationships (19 percent, or self esteem (18 percent).”

Interestingly only 52 percent of parents agreed strongly that they would choose to give their kids drugs if they had to do it over. Forty-four percent wished there was another way to help their child.

The survey found that only 22 percent of parents of children with A.D.H.D. say they are hesitant to publicly describe their children as such.

Here’s how Health News Digest described it:

“There was a time when the label of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) carried a stigma. Parents didn’t talk much about it, and kids didn’t want their classmates to know that they were taking medication. But there seems to have been a shift in acceptance over the past few years, almost a complete about-face. Celebrities such as Olympic Gold Medal winner Michael Phelps, Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel, and Extreme Makeover’s Ty Pennington speak out about their condition. And just last week, the popular website Jezebel posted a blog that begins with the confession: ‘Because I have raging A.D.H.D.…’ ”

”Even the treatment has gone mainstream. The same drugs prescribed for A.D.H.D. are being sought for their brain-boosting capacity and are believed to enhance memory and concentration in adults. Scientists are asking for them, college kids are sharing them on campuses, and baby boomers are extolling their powers at parties. So frequently are patients requesting them that just last year the American Academy of Neurology issued a guidance for potential prescribers like me.”
“Indeed, when it came to using medication, a Consumer Reports survey of 934 parents of children with A.D.H.D. found that parents were not very concerned about the stigma of being labeled with A.D.H.D.. Among parents who had given their child medication, 59 percent disagreed strongly with the statement: ‘I feel guilty or embarrassed about having my child take medication for A.D.H.D..’”

One other interesting note from the survey: 8 percent of parents admitted to having their child diagnosed as A.D.H.D. to get extra time on college entrance exams.

So what do you think: Is the stigma gone for A.D.H.D.? Are there good drugs to help kids cope? Do they only help at school or do they help at home? Do you feel that finding the right school is equally as important?

What do you think of people getting diagnosis for extra time on tests or just to improve their memories?

62 comments Add your comment


July 21st, 2010
2:12 pm

I think that getting your child diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and getting them prescribed psychotropic drugs just to get more time to finish a test is the ultimate expression of “helicopter parenting.”

And frankly, I think a lot of people use an excuse of ADHD as an excuse for flakiness or irresponsibility. But because they have ADHD — well! They can’t help it! I know several adults who claim blithely, “Oh, I’m sure I have ADHD” because they can’t be bothered to be on time for appointments or are chronically late on assignments. Apparently, for these people, there’s no difference between being rude, self-absorbed, inconsiderate and lazy and having a psychiatric disorder as defined by the DSM-IV.

I do not doubt that there is ADHD. I do not doubt that some kids have it. However, I DO think that a lot of ADHD is misdiagnosed by overzealous teachers, nervous parents and overworked physicians. As far as a “stigma”, it’s hard for it to be a “stigma” if half your class is standing in line with you at the nurse’s office to get their Ritalin.


July 21st, 2010
2:42 pm

I would NEVER put my kid in Ritalin!!! I think if you put recess back into the school day, you will find less cases of ADD, ADHD. Kids CANNOT sit still for 6-7 hours, they need some sort of release.

As an adult, I could not work from 9 to 4 without some kind of break. At some point, you need to clear your head and get away from what you are working on. I look at serial numbers all day long, and I just have to take a couple of breaks and re-energize.

I think kids should have some kind of “release” during the school day. As it is, they cannot talk or move while eating lunch.


July 21st, 2010
2:45 pm

I have friends who have children who are ADHD medication primarily for grades. These students were diagnosed with ticks, put on the meds and the grades took off. Whenever the meds were stopped, grades fell substantially. So now, even in college, these two are in honor program at UGA and still on their meds.

It seems a little unfair that “extra” help is propelling these grades when my student, who makes better grades than either when they have been off meds in the past, must really study to make similar grades in college all on his own.

Not that I don’t think these meds have their place for those who truly are ADHD. I just hate to see the abuse of these drugs both legally and illegally.


July 21st, 2010
2:46 pm

Sorry for the typos. My cursor keeps jumping.


July 21st, 2010
2:48 pm

The drugs are the effective. In fact, the only thing more effective is a proper diet and lots of exercise.

I wish we had tracking in our schools like in Germany. Some kids should be trained academically and some trained with skills.

Many kids who can’t sit through algebra have no problem in auto shop.


July 21st, 2010
2:52 pm

I am with JJ. Growing up in Chicago we had recess every day. And what is with the lunch thing? Exactly why are they not allowed to sit with whomever they please and talk, laugh do puzzles or play a board game at lunch time as long as they do not get too loud?

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July 21st, 2010
3:12 pm

Cammi – we had recess twice a day in the elementary school I attended in Colorado. A quick break in the morning, then one in the afternoon…..


July 21st, 2010
3:55 pm

As I have said many times on this blog, my daughter is ADHD. We have tried several different meds and different strengths. Diet and exersice helps, consistancy and solid rules help. Without meds my daughter would have never proven to herself how smart she is. As a parent you can see the potential your child has, and you work hard to help them see the potential. Before we started meds my daughter never made grades above a “C”. She just could not “get it”. After meds she was straight “A”. Not the never have to crack the book to get a “A”, but she had the ability to stay focused and study to make the grades. She has many times made comments about the kids in her school who took meds “just to get better grades”, they didn’t need the meds, but wanted them. Just over a year ago a boy took her meds out of her book bag just to “stay focused” and since he did not need them it ended up having a reverse affect on him and he could not stay still or quite, which is how the school found out about it and he was suspend and she was sent home for the day. The reason she had her meds in her book bag was because the school nurse was never there to issue her her meds so there were many days she didn’t get her afternoon dosage. It was a catch 22 for her and also for the school. She didn’t get in trouble, but the boy had to go to a hearing/tribunal and was suspended for 10 days.

I also agree with JJ, when my daughter was in 1st grade they were putting her in remedial reading during recess. The wondered why she was antsy, duh!! The teacher also said she was not making friends, really, can’t imagin why when all the other little girls were outside playing and she was stuck inside having to read to a old man. Go figure.

Kids need time to burn off energy, time to make friends and time to be kids.


July 21st, 2010
3:59 pm

@JJ: Amen on the recess. We had it twice a day — morning recess and afternoon recess. Morning recess was about 15 minutes. Afternoon recess was around 20 minutes, more if the teacher was feeling particularly mellow :-) Getting recess taken away was the worst possible punishment a teacher could give a class. Anyone who acted up and caused the class to miss recess was ostracized and shamed — talk about peer pressure! Outside if it was nice — inside if it was raining. If it was inside, it was a chance to sit and giggle with your BFF, play a board game, work on a puzzle, or just read a book.

I loved recess! . . . *sigh*


July 21st, 2010
4:04 pm

@LM.. why did the little boy know that your daughter had meds in her book bag?

Joyce Naumis

July 21st, 2010
4:24 pm

Well, when lunch is only 25 minutes, the kids need every second to eat. (I know I did when I was teaching!) I’m not saying I agree, that’s just the way it is. When I was in school, we had enough time to eat and then go out and play.


July 21st, 2010
4:48 pm

My son is 15 and is diagnosed ADD. We pretty much always knew he was but were very hesitant about putting him on medication when he was young. We didn’t want to medicate him and get him dependent on medication or get labeled. We basically coped with him all through elementary school until mid-year through 7th grade. We’ve kept him in private schools for the most part so that he would have the benefit of smaller, more interactive classes. We’ve watched his diet, made sure he had plenty of exercise, stuck to a strict schedule, done incentive charts, tried every punishment in the book, etc. and things were simply always a struggle. By the time he got to 7th grade, it got to the point where our coping just wasn’t working any more. His grades were Cs & Ds, he was constantly getting zeros for not turning stuff in or only partially finishing it (if I had a time for every time I’ve heard “I forgot”…), it would take him hours to finish homework that could have been done in half an hour or less. I couldn’t cope with him and the constant barrage of phone calls and emails from his teachers. Finally I told my husband that one of us was going on medication, either our son or me but I couldn’t take it anymore. Honestly I felt like a failure as a parent.

Within 3 days of starting medication, there was 100% improvement. Homework wasn’t an argument because he could actually sit down and get it done in 30 minutes. He was agreeable. I got a phone call a week after he started taking the medication from one of his teachers that didn’t know he had been started on medication because she was so impressed with his improvement. I seriously could not believe it. While I think we had good intentions of not wanting to medicate him, I honestly regret not putting him on medication sooner.

I think there is a stigma for parents of children on medication from parents who’ve never dealt with an ADD/ADHD child, or even any child with a learning issue. Kids don’t seem to care and do openly talk about it now though my son will still tell you that he doesn’t like taking the medication. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t learned how to control his behavior to the point that he doesn’t need to be on the medication. His dosage is very low and we do not make him take it over breaks/summer (although I know that’s part of the problem why I can’t seem to get him to finish his summer reading) and I am hopeful that he won’t take it forever.


July 21st, 2010
5:22 pm

What level of this issue is boys being boys and the parents and teachers (mostly female) who don’t want to or can’t deal with the different way boys are wired (more physically agressive play, etc)?


July 21st, 2010
5:34 pm

My child has ADHD. Had nothing to do with her lack of recess, her needing more time on the test, or even the parenting. ADHD is real and the families that have someone in it can tell you the pain.


Do I think ADHD is over diagnosed? Yes, that is why I worked long and hard on researching it and having the child evaluated, ruling out all other issues before I accepted the diagnose or the idea of rx.

Do I think some parents use the rx to get results other than curbing ADHD? Yes.

Does ADHD still have a stigma? I think it has changed. Now I can be blamed as a bad parent who wants to abdicate her responsiblity. I can be seen as preferring to drug my child rather than teach her.

Here is what really happened: She did not respond to all the various things we tried. However, by putting her on rx she is now teachable. Ever tried to teach a child ANYTHING…like stay out of the street…How about a conversation? Kid could not put 2 sentences together…First things we noticed on the rx: she could carry on a conversation better than most adults since her brain finally held the thought. She could be taught all kinds of things. Best of all, now that she is doing what she should..she retains it and is gaining confidence in herself.

Unless you walk a mile in my Nike’s don’t judge


July 21st, 2010
7:55 pm

@ Techmom-we were just the opposite. We put my oldest on Ritalin (later changed to adderall) in 2nd grade. He was literally driving himself nuts. It was our prodding, not the teacher’s. As he got older, the hyperactivity dropped off (as with most teenagers, it was hard to even get him out of bed!), but the attention deficit remained. He wanted to go off meds in high school for several reasons: football and the fact that he wanted to go into the Marine Corps. He is entering his second year in college and is a USMC Reservist. He lives by an agenda, sticky notes, alarms and notifications on his phone and reminders from mom and dad but he does fine and gets better at organization and focusing with each passing year. He has learned to adapt to his needs and now knows what it takes to block out what distracts him, but it has taken years and we are so thankful that we had those meds early on, for his sake and for ours. It’s not right for everyone and it is certainly over diagnosed, but when it’s right it is a true blessing!


July 21st, 2010
8:32 pm

FCM, I’m not taking cheap shots at anyone who has a legitimate issue to deal with. Knowing you, I have no doubt you handled the situation most probably just like I would have. The point I’m trying to make is for the instances where energetic boys are put on meds so they’ll comform to what someone else wants them to be. We all have deficiencies in some area or another, I certainly have mine. If my comments were read as any other than that, I’ll try to phrase my words more carefully next time. Keep up the good work with your family.


July 21st, 2010
10:21 pm

I graduated georgia tech a couple years ago, and probably about 60% of the kids took adderall at least a couple times during the year to study. Interestingly, in general the people least likely to take adderall to study were the ones who were diagnosed ADHD and had taken it all through childhood. Most of them hated it by the time they got to college and started giving them away or not refilling rx’es.

Tech man

July 21st, 2010
10:26 pm

I was diagnosed at age 48 with A.D.D.
The drugs are a blessing.
I wish I had them during my school years including Georgia Tech and post graduate work.


July 21st, 2010
10:31 pm

I agree that some people do play the ADHD card to get extra time on tests, to make excuses for bad behavior, etc. But I am totally in agreement with FCM.

Try parenting a kid that truly has ADHD. The impulsive behavior, noise level, and constant fidgeting may drive us crazy as parents, but these are all coping mechanisms to elevate the neurotransmitters in the brain to normal levels. The kids literally cannot sit still because they need constant stimulus to keep their brain chemistry fired up. Recess CANNOT help that. The drugs correct the brain chemistry to normal levels, just like the fidgeting and other behaviors. That is why behavior and grades improve. The kids don’t have to move or talk constantly to keep their brains functioning.

My 19 year old daughter has mild ADHD, inattentive variety. She used to just space off in class. She learned to cope without drugs and is now a student at an academically geared private college and given a substantial academic merit scholarship.

Then there is my 16 year old son. He has been on ritalin since 1st grade. We have done and are still doing the private schooling, the tutors, the structured schedule, the extra time on tests. He literally did not know his alphabet when he left kindergarten because he could not focus long enough to learn them. But the school was willing to work with us since we were willing to do everything we could to help our son succeed. He is an A- to B+ student at St. Pius now. It never would have happened without the ritalin, involved teachers, schools with high academic expectations, and active, consistent parenting.


July 21st, 2010
10:33 pm

For those of you who don’t fully understand ADHD, it is a dopamine imbalance in the brain. People with ADHD are not having enough dopamine produced in the brain, which causes the inability to focus and the behavior difficulties. Medication to treat this imbalance helps by increasing dopamine production to a balanced level so that focus and self-control are better.

Because of this, as one poster already described, it is impossible to take ADHD medication just to “get good grades” if you don’t actually need it. If you raise your dopamine levels higher than what they should be, as with what would happen if you took the medication and didn’t need it, it would have opposite effects. Parents who give their children this medication when they don’t need it notice this immediately, because it makes their child worse, not better.

The reason why kids appear to get good grades when they take medication for ADHD is because they are honestly and truly unable to focus and concentrate on the tasks that they need to in order to succeed, without hte medication.

As newblogger pointed out, even medication alone will not entirely fix a child. ADHD will never go away, and a child should not have to rely on medication the rest of their lives. It is a necessary crutch to get them through the early years, but with proper therapy, support, and understanding, a person can learn how to work with their disorder through organization and focus techniques that will help them conquer it without the medication.

I truly believe that for a child who truly needs it, medication mixed with family and teacher support, as well as a good therapist if necessary, can help these children to embrace who they are, understand themselves, and become contributing and successful members of society. Many times, without these things, children with ADHD can develop many other problems while trying to deal with the part of themselves they cannot control. Children with ADHD unchecked are at risk of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and failure in school and beyond.

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Insensitive Relic

July 21st, 2010
10:44 pm

Seems to me, after quite a number of years of living, that ADHD=A Damned Horrible Devil.


July 21st, 2010
10:48 pm

Just another drug dealer in search of a customer. In this case the pusher cuts the psychiatrists in for a piece of the action to help push the drugs. Then they get the government school system to help push/force for a piece of the action. All the while nobody bothers to ask whether any of the thousands of chemicals in the environment, the shift to massively processed foods, the hormones in the meat, the massive antibiotic use in animals used for food, the switch to High Fructose Corn syrup, the chronic prevalence of television in the child’s life, the chemicals eminating from the plastic carpets, plastic paints, etc. the bis-phenol in all the plastic wrappers, cans, bottles, etc. or anything might actually be causing the problems. Instead the shrinks get everyone to actually believe that they are just better at diagnosing the problem and that this many kids with ADHD has always been the norm and that now 1 in 93 kids with autism is totally ok and also just “better diagnosed”.

Its ok they say, we have drugs. Don’t worry about the suicides or the other problems. We need you both to be able to work so we can get more tax money to pay to our friends in big business and in the welfare industry. We can’t have you staying home being parents. We can’t have any problems in the classroom like kids with energy and independent thought. We need compliant “good citizens” so it isn’t so obvious our government run schools are a failure. We need an excuse. We need to make sure our drug pusher friends have plenty of revenue.

Who wouldn’t be bored out of their mind in the prisons they call schools? Who wouldn’t exhibit all of these symptoms given how children are raised today.

But remember, drugs are bad…mkay. Unless they come from government approved doctors and drug pushers.


July 21st, 2010
10:57 pm

Everyone’s situation is different. For those willing to consider other options or solutions you might check into cognitive training..also know as “brain training” to help with many of the issues associated with ADHD. There is a center located in Buckhead called LearningRx that specializes in cognitive training. I’ve heard many success stories from others which have given it a try.

Astrid G.

July 21st, 2010
11:05 pm

It is so tiresome to have to repeat this – ADHD is not a “psychiatric disorder”. If you have to put a label on it, it’s a biological disorder, a different wiring of the brain. And drugs help. Would you keep drugs from your diabetic child? If your child is born with a heart condition, do you try “cognitive training”?

Ole Guy

July 21st, 2010
11:22 pm

I have little doubt that SOME…a very few SOME…kids may have disorders of one type or another which require drug intervention of one sort or another. HOWEVER, I firmly believe, in a world which demands instant this and instant that, the vast majority of labeling (ADHD, BD, etc, etc, ad nauseum) is simply society’s (read PARENTS) easy course of action…the path of least resistance. After all, it is both easier and quicker to simply adopt a “pill regimen” for the kid, rather than exercise “tough love”. After all, TL extolls a psychological price tag on both the kid and the parent, not to mention all with whom the kid comes into contact.

Too many kids are becoming “legal drugies”.


July 21st, 2010
11:36 pm

Technicality, I agree with you. Reading some of these comments reminded me that I have seen mentioned in articles or journal abstracts somewhere that stimulants actually don’t help non-adhd brains the way some people assume. Placebo effect, perhaps? Anyway, did a stab in the dark search and found this in an abstract on Science Direct. Can’t vouch for the soundness of the study, but interesting: “Studies in non-ADHD adults suggest that stimulants do not promote acquisition of new information, might improve retention of previously acquired information, and facilitate memory consolidation, but may actually impair performance of tasks that require adaptation, flexibility and planning. It is still not clear if improvement only occurs when there is a baseline deficit. Stimulants may influence cognition by their effects on physiological arousal. Regardless, the evidence does not support the conclusion that stimulants are cognitive ‘enhancers.’” (for non-adhd) C Advokat – Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2010 – Elsevier


July 21st, 2010
11:52 pm

Oops, didn’t see that there is already a ‘Lynn’ here. The comment above, citing a science direct abstract was mine.


July 22nd, 2010
12:01 am

@Astrid, it is, indeed, a psychiatric disorder — because a psychiatric disorder is defined as a disorder that has to do with the mind, behavior and cognitive functions. If it makes you feel better to consider it a biological issue, so be it — but by that definition, schizophrenia, OCD, anxiety and bi-polar disorder are ALSO “biological”. But yes, it is a psychiatric: DSM-IV, Classification 314, 314.01, and 314.9. It’s classified as a developmental disorder. And it is still slated to remain in the DSM-V which is due out in the next year or so. The fact that cognitive therapy is being used with increasing success in conjunction with pharmacological interventions more and more on almost all of the disorders that I mentioned to a certain extent also point to the behavioral component.


July 22nd, 2010
1:03 am

I work in education and have always said if we want to improve schools start with recess. You use to be able to tell kids to stop talking during class because there was a time and place for that at recess. Now there is no time for proper social development in schools so they talk when they can which is anytime. I usually tell parents who think their kids are A.D.D or A.D.H.D. to first talk to their doctor about diet changes before medication. More parent than you think are getting labels for their kids for accommodations on college entrance exams, CRCT etc. Children who truly have a disorder suffer from the backlash of those opportunist parents. Regulations on college entrance exams are being changed because they see the trends of parents trying to get extra time. There is no more stigma for labeling anymore because every kid has something now days with 40% being excuses parent use to release responsibility for their kids for their behavior. When a parent tells me their child has A.D.H.D. I always ask if they have being diagnosed by a doctor. You would be surprised by how many just go no but I read an article and it sounded just like my kid. This makes it hard to give the kids who really need assistance of modifications the attention they need.


July 22nd, 2010
8:18 am

Jeff, JJ etc NO my comments were in response to what I am actually told when anyone finds out my kid is ADHD. Not in response to anyone here. I respect your opinions as well. I even agree that less structured time (like recess) is needed in the school day. I totally agree that ADHD is overdiagnosed–and said that in my post.

No need to rephrase…shoot from the hip I do ;)

(although I admit I have sensitivity to this subject)


July 22nd, 2010
9:29 am

LWA, not sure if he knew she had her adderall in the book bag or if it was just luck he found it. They were in a class (advisement, like homeroom in my day, mixed grade) and the teacher was not in the classroom at the time, the boy had spent the last year or so just being a pest to my daughter. So while the teacher was out he took her book bag and started going through the pockets. Don’t think he was looking for anything in particular, maybe he just wanted to be nosey or find somthing to embarass her with (girl products?). Anyway there were witnesses that say she tried to get her book bag back and when her found her meds she tried to get him to stop, but he didn’t listen and took the meds, since the teacher was not in the classroom at the time, there was no one to report it to. He goes into the next class and starts bragging that he was gonna ace the test since he had taken the meds. The teacher reported it and my daughter was called out of her next class, and as I said earlier she was not in trouble, mostly because there were witnesses and because the boy told the truth. It could have been very ugly had he lied. Thankfully the principal and teachers took my daughters history into account and reconized she was not fault. All that being said, she could have been in serious trouble for having the meds on her and not going though the nurse. Under the circumstances of the nurse not being at the school to dipense the meds on a regular basis. This was an issue the school knew was going on.


July 22nd, 2010
9:34 am

5% or less of children have ADHD, yet in Cobb County, over 35% of the students have been diagnosed and are medicated for it. While the teachers and administrators are prohibited from speculating to parents that their child has ADHD, it’s a very common behavior for them to do so. The truth is, most of the kids diagnosed ADHD don’t have it. The schools want them to be medicated to make crowd control easier.

Yet another problem with our schools, and a generation of kids that believe that they have an innate inability to function normally. Great.


July 22nd, 2010
9:52 am

Stigma? There is no stigma where I live. The people that I personally know that have their kids on drugs for ADD/ADHD use it as an excuse for every little thing junior does. Drugs are easier than parenting I guess.

One child in particular had his meds increased just a little over a month before school got out. Now he sits around staring into space, with his mouth open and tongue almost hanging out. Seriously. His parents see nothing wrong with this. It is much easier I guess than actually teaching him.


July 22nd, 2010
10:08 am

Oops, I accidentally hit submit before I was finished…

I do believe there are a small number of people that need medicinal help unfortunately it seems like a cool fad to drug kids in recent years.

Has anyone read the articles, books, studies that are coming out saying that a lot of the kids that are on ADD/ADHD meds are growing up and having a much higher liklihood of turning to illegal drugs to cope? As they never learned how to deal with life or live without meds…once they come off their prescriptions they can’t cope.


July 22nd, 2010
10:28 am

MomsRule we have had many conversations about if and how to take our daughter of the meds. She is tired of taking meds and wants to try being med free. I feel she has not done enough to learn coping techniques to help her and want her to continue with the medication along with seeing her counslor every other week. The counslor has also discused his opinion about weaning her off the meds. During the summer we have allowed her off the meds. The difference is amazing. On meds she is focused, but also has no personality. Off meds she has a sparkling personality, but it just has no bounds. She is witty and exciting to be around off meds, however it is harded to keep her calm and she does and says things before she has had a chance to think.

I can appreciate the struggle a teacher would have during a day in the classroom. My daughter has a very unique way of looking at things and thinks outside the box. The teacher can not continue to assit my child when 20 other children are trying to learn. It has little to do with behavior, but more to do with being able to foucs and understand what the task is.

As a adult my child with be amazing and creative and her unique abilty to see things from a different perpective and think outside the box will help her go far, however as a child it limits her success and could, without meds and counseling, distroy her confidence and then she might be one to turn to drugs and alchol to help her cope. By giving her the chance to see what she is capable of now, I hope to give her the knowledge she can succeed later in life.


July 22nd, 2010
10:44 am

LM – I applaud you. I really do. I wish I could hold you up as a poster child to some of the parents I know. Of the parents I know that have kids on meds….not one of them is doing anything as far as teaching coping skills and not one of them has a long term plan. Everytime there is an increase of school complaints drugs are increased. That’s it. Knee jerk reaction.


July 22nd, 2010
10:55 am

I really wish someone could invent a blood test for ADD/ADHD that could show which kids really have it and to what extent. There are lazy parents out there who simply resort to putting their kids on drugs so parenting is easier.

@LM, one of the biggest drivers for putting our son on medication was our empathy with his teachers. I simply realized that if he is that disruptive and hard to deal with at home when there are two parents and 1 child, I cannot imagine the issues he’s causing in class when there are 18-20 other kids in there. Our son loves to be the center of attention and constantly blurts out, interrupts, or otherwise causes distractions when he’s in class and not on medication. He’ll readily admit he’s “more fun” when he’s not on his medication (i.e. getting all the attention from his classmates). When he’s taking it, he doesn’t feel the urge to do those things. I basically tell him when he gets to the point when he’s willing to choose NOT to be the center of attention (b/c the teacher should be) and chooses to do his work to the best of his ability, then we’ll discuss taking him off medication.


July 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

I absolutley agree there are kids out there who have/need the meds. I also believe there are WAY too many who are overdiagnosed and treated! I know some kids that fall into both categories (2 of them being my step children). One needed the meds, the other was just lazy. It’s also amazing that the one who needed it, worked with his doctor the last year of high school to get off because he wanted to go into the military. The other (who, in my opinion, didn’t need them) just stopped taking his. This is also the one who would proudly proclaim to anyone that he had ADD and needed the meds, and blamed all of his problems on it too (and so did his mom).

My son is VERY active and this gets him into trouble at school too. I’m SO thankful that there are a great group of folks who have worked with us. I will admit that part of the problem is mine. He is my one and only (the step kids are late teens now), and I tend to spoil him. I had/have a hard time enforcing rules/boundaries. I have gotten MUCH better about this which has also helped him.

Another struggle we have is that he is VERY bright! When he took the CRCT this year, he excelled in 2 out of 3 categories (almost hitting the top score) and missed exceeding in the final category by 2 points! I think this is also contributing to his extra energy in class (don’t even get me started on recess)! :o)

The boy is 7 and can carry on a totally normal adult conversation! Sometimes it is very frustrating because I want him to accept that I don’t always know everything! He thinks that I do! LOL!

I’ve had a couple of people tell me to take him to his MD for medications. The ONLY way I would do that is after a THOROUGH exam by those trained in cognitive and behavioral problems. I have seen first hand how the medication can affect kids. Unless it’s a last resort, I’m not taking that route!


July 22nd, 2010
11:06 am

So, you medicate your children because they’re thoughtless, mouthy, self-absorbed and a ham? While I can see that ADHD meds could make them dull enough to stop those kinds of behaviors, those behaviors don’t mean the kids have ADHD.

But, that’s the reason why schools recommend such action, even when they’re supposed to be prohibited from so doing. Those kinds of behaviors can disrupt their classrooms. I guess bad grades, detention and suspension are no longer viable motivating actions.

It’s been going on a long time. The first time I heard the 35% medicated rate of Cobb County schools was over 15 years ago, when I was married to a Cobb County teacher.


July 22nd, 2010
11:06 am

Oh and how do I know he’s not ready to come off the meds (other than I deal with him every day during the summer when he’s not on them)? Mid May I got an email from 1 of his teachers:

“I am teaching the class and I am constantly asking him to be quiet. He is really a distraction in class and I am asking for assistance in this matter. He did not turn in a recent a assignment because he was talking and off task. I tried to get him refocused, but I had no success… I do not want to refer him to the assistant principal, so please help.”

Turns out he decided that he wasn’t going to take his medication that week. We had gotten to the point where I would ask him if he took his medication and if he said yes, I believe him. He got in trouble for lying to me and we went back to me actually having to watch him take his pill every morning.


July 22nd, 2010
11:26 am

BTW, we never used her ADHD as a way give her more time to complet test or school work. In fact I had not know that was available.

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July 22nd, 2010
11:34 am

I can sympathize with a number of posters here. I can’t tell you how much a difference my son is on his medication. I talked to him about it quite often – now that I can actually have a conversation with him. An example would be the painting class he just took for summer camp. He did excellent on them – really good. The art teacher was very impressed and made an effort to let us know that. Yeah, I’m sure someone will say something about that, but the issue is when we talk to him about his paintings he says that he can picture it in his mind and then paint it. If he is off his med, he can’t ’see’ the picture in his mind. He can’t focus enough to paint.

We worked with his doctor, a counselor, a psychiatrist and his teacher before we made the decision to put him on a low dose of Ritalin. He says it helps him. We see a huge difference in our lives as well. My wife and I can have a conversation because our son isn’t so disruptive. Do we still make lists and have issues getting him going? Sure do, but it’s much better when he’s on his Ritalin.

Great book out there for parents that are going through this “From Chaos to Calm”. The author, a mom, I think was a bit of a whack job in what she expected from her kid, but man, word for word went we go through every day.

Like someone said, (FCM?) – walk a mile in my Nike’s, then judge.


July 22nd, 2010
12:12 pm

LM…check her dosage. My practioner swore to me that there would be little change in her personality if she needed the meds and we got the dosage right. I have no desire to have my daughter be a drone or zombie. She isn’t. We have a dosage that keeps her calm enough to teach/focus but she is still witty and most who meet her don’t know she is on the meds.

In fact her teacher last year said, “her file says she is ADHD I don’t think that is correct.” The school counselor (who has known this child more than 4 years now) said that is because the methods Mom is using is working. The one day that we forgot to do the meds–she got “red” in her agenda. The teacher wrote saying that it was like (attempting?) teaching a whole different person!!!

MomsRule…if the parents use the excuse of “well he/she is ADHD” to allow the child to do whatever (meds or no) then yes the parent is failing the child. My child does have ADHD, I still expect for her to act like a normal person. I hold her to the same standards, no special rules. My role as parent–regardless of the issues the child may have (Downs, MS, Dyslexia) etc is to raise them to be the best functiong person they can be.


July 22nd, 2010
12:21 pm

@FCM I agree, our son’s doctor told us the same thing about his personality. It might tone certain aspects down (like his disagreeable nature -instead of constantly questioning why I want him to do this or that or making excuses as to why he shouldn’t, he will just do it).


July 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

clicked too soon

… but the medication should not change a child’s personality. If it does, try something different. It’s unfortunate that these meds are trial and error but that’s really the only way to find what will work. And it’s amazing how one medication may work for one child really well and not at all for another. And usually if a kid is a zombie b/c of it, the dosage is too high.

David K.

July 22nd, 2010
12:38 pm

If anyone seriously believes ADHD is a stigma then you seriously need to read the utmost profound telling of a child growing up with undiagnosed ADHD ever written! The book is One Boy’s Struggle: A Memoir Surviving Life With Undiagnosed ADD, but I doubt any of you naysayers will take the time to read it to get the real story and find out what happens to a child that goes undiagnosed and without help. The memoir will make you rethink what ADHD is and how parenting with corporal punishment to correct a child is wrong and permanently harmful. I could not stop crying when I read it, but it also made me cheer at the end because the scarred boy finally received the help he needed as an adult. Some of the comments here are shameful, absolutely shameful.


July 22nd, 2010
1:35 pm

I have taught a few children ( in 38 years) who were ADHD and appropriately medicated. I have taught quite a few that were candidates for medication but never got the health care. (Several of them are now in jail). I cannot think of a single one that I know that was medicated and did not need the help, although sometimes it took several tries to get the dosage correct.

I don’t think there is a stigma any more. I think people brag about it, and I can tell you even 6 year olds use it as an excuse for their misbehavior. I’ve had kids tell me I shouldn’t expect anything out of them because they haven’t “had the pill.”

It amazes me how many mommas “forget” to give the kid their medicine. It happens a great deal here. Lack of consistency is one of the collateral problems. I think we should be able to send them home or call DFACS when they don’t get their medicines. Some of our children “run out” before the month is over. It happens so frequently that I am sure the parents are either taking the meds themselves or selling it. I’d like to see that investigated.

I think any child getting medication should have the requirements of parents getting counseling on how to deal with the problem, including consistent expectations, a set schedule, etc. It should certainly be required if taxes are going toward payment for the meds–here that is the case at least 75% of the time.

And I wonder: Does ADHD diagnosis get you the monthly check so many families seem to value? Who knows? Is it considered a disability that gets disability payments?