Well, the topic I have chosen should probably intimidate me since I know that there are scientists, biologists and people who study the brain, among my audience. I don’t feel that way, however. I count them among my friends and know that if I am way off base they will nudge me according as they see fit. I will plunge right in and you will see other reasons I feel, if not competent, at least qualified by common sense.
I had a doctor diagnose one of my children with the infamous Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity or ADHD. At least one other child had it, and likely two. This Doctor observed me for a short time and said it was very likely that they had inherited it from me and I likely have adult ADD. ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder sans hyperactivity. The doctor made this diagnosis of the one child while I was not present and offered to prescribe Ritalin for the condition. My wife let her know that I would be skeptical and so the doc sent home a list of books I should read on the subject, with a couple of books she thought were key, highlighted.
This was at the time when I was working at the bookstore and found that there were no less than 50 books on the subject alone, not counting books on learning disorders that included the condition. So I picked up 5 different books, all by people with an impressive assortment of alphabet soup that always included the letters “M.D.” somewhere in the mix. So far, so good, until we come to the ideas that they all have.
One book solemnly affirmed to me that there is no such thing and that it is all a made up scheme, another made the symptoms and examples so broad that it seemed to me that every person who did NOT have the condition was odd. Then there was the book that explained how people with ADD/ADHD were actually transdimensional beings that are protruding into our dimension to help us move up the evolutionary ladder. I think it also included left-handers, so, yes, I guess my secret is out. I really am not from this world/planet/dimension and would explain why people use words like “weird” and “stinky-footed” and “southpaw” to describe me.
These were all M.D.s, who purported these several theories, remember. So, what to do? Well, I worry about these drugs. I wonder how, if ADD is, in fact, as the book she suggested, in the brain, how the drugs work. They must alter the chemistry of the brain, but what are the long-term effects? I have heard that the human brain is not developed completely until you are in your twenties(I am on a limb here since there are people who actually know), so how does a drug that changes the brain’s chemistry affect that? The doctor says her personality will not change, but how can it not change if you are mucking about inside her brain? The doctor we had for the other child had advised us to take a wait and see approach with strict behavior modifications, which worked. He didn’t like to use the drugs except as a last resort whereas this doc seemed almost anxious to prescribe the drugs without anywhere near the amount of testing.
We are finding the behavior modification is working with this child, also. They come out with so many new drugs, but I can remember as a little boy the women of my mother’s generation had taken a certain dose of birth control and 30 or 40 YEARS later they learned that it was causing cancer, and now they would not even consider considering prescribing that dose.
I think, especially since we are able to positively affect the child without drugs, we will wait. I hope I have not offended the scientists in my audience (one of whom studies the brain) with my possible ignorance but to be fair, I think I have sound reason for being suspicious of all these drugs.
I apologize that I have not really done the subject justice, and have not touched things like the influence of TV on developing children and all of the veritable plethora of information, but perhaps, have given us all something to think about and talk about?