Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Parent of an ADHD Child, Decision Portrait Series.

(Above:  Parent of an ADHD Child, Decision Portrait Series.  Stitched words:  Embracing the difference by not medicating.  Xylene photo transfer on tea stained muslin.  22" x 28" unframed; 30" x 37" framed.  Hand embroidery.  Click on image to enlarge.)

The Internet is a wonderful thing.  It allows people like me to "throw ideas to the world" with hopes of a response.  Someone saw my blog...connections were made...emails were sent and forwarded and reached Magee Landrum.  Maggie contacted me via email saying, "A friend of a friend sent me a link to your blog and if you are still looking for participants, I'd like to volunteer. ... I was thinking about a decision I made recently.  My son is in the process of being diagnosed with fairly severe ADHD and there is a lot of pressure to put children with this affliction on drugs.  The decision I made was not to medicate - to embrace the difference rather than try to suppress it or normalize it." 

Our exchange of message went on until this portrait resulted.  It was clear that her decision was made after very, very careful consideration from every angle and with loads of love. 

(Above:  Parent of an ADHD Child, Decision Portrait Series.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Being a parent is hard work.  There are plenty of problems along the way.  Decisions must be made.  What is "right" in one situation isn't necessarily "right" in another situation.  All the children are different.  All the parents worry and do the best they possibly can.  When it comes right down to it, this decision is exactly the kind I wanted most for this series.  It is bittersweet and thought-provoking.  It was a hard decision that had to be made.  It was a decision with no "right" answer, one that might apply to every similar circumstance.  It was a decision made with knowledge and love.  It was a decision willingly shared through this series.  I am grateful to this family for their trust.  Most importantly, it is a very, very beautiful mother and child.  The love shines through.


Angie in AZ said...

Wow, while I know everyone has to make their own decisions, this one makes me really, really sad. for almost 25 years, I was (in the midst of divorce now) married to a man who was never medicated for his ADD and I watched how that affected his life, his choices, how EVERYTHING in our lives had to done so he could function, and the struggle he had as an adult who is now 52 years old. He has other mental health issues that were just diagnosed in the past couple of years. He is finally on medication and they have helped tremendously. Then, I have a son who is almost 9. We didn't want to medicate him even though it was VERY apparent he inherited the ADD and added the H with it. He literally turned flips all over the house and climbed the walls. This past school year, it really began affecting him in school as he could not concentrate and keep up in class. We finally decided to try medication. The FIRST day on it, he came home and said, "Mom, I had a great day at school! I didn't get in trouble once! I got all of my work done too! This medicine really works! Why didn't you get it for me sooner?" Good question. I had to apologize to my son. He remains on medication and the difference is staggering. His personality in no way was changed but he is doing great on the meds. We just recently added in medication for mood disorder, just like his dad. Again, life altering affects in a positive way. Not just his life has changed, the lives of our whole family have changed. The entire atmosphere in my home is drastically different. My son is now able to let his real heart shine without other things being in the way. And his teacher suggested he be tested for the gifted program at school! The only reason she didn't have him tested in the beginning of the year was his behavior. Medication helped Max control his behavior and now new opportunities are opening up for him as we tap into his true gifting. Medication for us was a true miracle from God and I'm so thankful for it. I feel that it saved my son. I really do.
Just wanted to share my experience on this topic.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad the decision you made turned out so well for your son and your family - it sounds like it was the right one for you!

We continue to stand by our own decision, with all its imperfections and joys and it is working well for us too.

We know a lot of people making this decision and it seems like they're either firmly in one camp or the other. There is so much to consider and so many different situations. Thanks for adding your own perspective.

This is a fantastic and thought-provoking project.

Charlote said...

Thank you for sharing this! My son has ADHD and it is difficult to provide him all he needs. I have learned a lot about parenting a ADHD child at I hope this is helpful to other parents with ADHD children.

Anonymous said...

I didn't decide to medicate my son until he was trying to kill himself... at 7 years old. He knew he was misbehaving but didn't have the ability to control himself. Until that point I was rigidly against using pills. I didn't want to "screw him up."

It took some time to find the right medication and dose, but we were in constant contact with the psychiatrist and psychologist. They understood that I didn't want to medicate and never pressured me into any specific kind of pill that they didn't think would work. We're still a solid team to this day. By contrast, a doctor that I'd taken my younger son to was ready to churn out prescriptions for all kinds of narcotics, so research who you see!

Even with medication he still goes to therapy to work on thought processes so that, hopefully, one day he won't need pills anymore. All through elementary school he's maintained honor roll and AP classes and we don't medicate on the weekends. As he's gotten older and is starting puberty, new and interesting behaviors are popping up, but we'll take it in stride as we always have.

It's great that we want our kids to be "special", but there's a line when it comes to conforming to how the real world operates. As an adult with ADHD, my doctor said that I'd developed coping skills that help me get by, but I know I'd have done much better on medication. Even now I'm constantly late everywhere, chores don't get done around the house, and I'm a huge procrastinator in just about every aspect of my life.

Ultimately you have to think of what's best for your child. There is no pressure to medicate at that point - sometimes it's just the right thing to do. It doesn't make you a bad parent at all. It makes you a GOOD parent for realizing that your child is trying to deal with a deficiency that they don't understand - something that's going to determine who and how they will be in the future.