Posted on 13 Comments

ADHD Mythological Pathways


After seeing a few tweets and posts surrounding ADHD and the stereotypical way they have been described, I feel compelled to “right” what I see as a wrong.

ADHD is a condition that affects the brain. There is a chemical called dopamine in the brain. In ADHD children, that chemical is lacking or low. It causes the brain to misread signals and signs, and makes it difficult for children to calm their brains long enough to take in much of what is going on around them.

It also leads to increased frustration as many of the children who suffer are normal or high intelligence, but simply can’t focus long enough on something to be able to fully grasp the correct meaning.

Loud noises can irritate and distract them, to such a level that they are in pain. Their brains can often suffer with short term memory loss, but once something has passed into the long term memory, it is usually there to stay.

Children with ADHD on its own tend to be socially excluded on many levels. They can make inappropriate responses as their brain is just getting to the answer of the first question someone asked, when the asker is now on Q3.

They often lack the ability to think before they speak or act.

Women could relate more if they could imagine their hormones all out of whack – all the time, and multiply that effect many times.

Far too often, I see, hear, or read about people who think it is an excuse for bad behaviour.

They often also seem to think that Ritalin is a drug that calms down bad behaviour.

Those of you who have read this far are either interested, or keen to find out more. Well done for wanting to understand of a condition that is hyped out for the wrong reasons.

To finish, I am going to take the Ritalin debate. People who don’t know, seem to think it is prescribed to “calm down” badly behaved children.

That is completely the wrong impression. For ADHD children (and adults) and with other disabilities with similar brain issues, the medicine replaces the dopamine that is missing in the brain, and appears to calm children down. It doesn’t. What it does, is like insulin to a diabetic and replaces what the body is missing so that you see them on the same level as their non ADHD peers.

Give Ritalin to a child who is not ADHD,  and with a normal dopamine level, and it will actually make that child hyperactive – the drug would be adding extra to their normal level of dopamine. Think giving a normal child massive levels of sugar.

If you give an ADHD child too much Ritalin, then it will also hype them out. It can be a case of trial and error to hit on the right dose, as each child who suffers can have a different level of dopamine missing.

I hope I have done my bit to dispel some of the myths running around about ADHD, and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. People using ADHD as an excuse to run a child down should think about how much damage that does to real families coping with a real medical issue.

So there you have it.


13 thoughts on “ADHD Mythological Pathways

  1. Great article, accurately describing ADHD. Unfortunately, it is still under diagnosed in the UK compared to the US and Australasia where it is often over diagnosed and where the ‘parenting problem’ stereotype arose from. Ritalin is an amphetamine, so if any of the rest of us took it, it would be like taking ‘speed’, the fact that it actually calms an ADHD child down is proof that t correct diagnosis has been made.

    On a positive note, many believe that Einstein and Churchill were adults with undiagnosed ADHD…..

    1. There are some issues similar here to overseas. Nobody believes me that ritalin will make a child who doesn’t need it hyperactive. But that was exactly what the media wanted when they introduced that stereotype.

  2. This post was forwarded to me by my best friend, she read it and thought immediately of all the problems my dyslexic 12 year old has been having. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you…… I’m taking this with me when I go to see his Doctor to yet again try and get him more help before he gets thrown out of another school. Doctors have constantly told me he is not ADHD because he sleeps, they have totally overlooked the fact that he cannot concentrate or focus on anything, in a 40 minute lesson he retains about 8 mins as his memory is so poor….. The slightest noise in the classroom breaks what little concentration he has managed to muster

    1. Just because your son is dyslexic, it doesn’t mean he is not ADHD. There are tests they can do (usually quite subjective), and you will need to get him assessed before you can decide on a course of action that is appropriate. I have never heard the comment of sleeping meaning they are not ADHD before. Yes, not sleeping is a common feature, but not all children are the same. I know people who have had to go and see private (respected) consultants to get a foot on the NHS diagnosis ladder. It will not be your GP that can help with this, apart from a referral for diagnosis, but school doctors should be able to do ADHD questionnaires. Look for a Connors questionnaire for ADHD and see where your son sits on that.

  3. An excellent post. I see you definitely feel the frustration I think all parents who have children who genuinely have ADHD feel. One of the biggest issues in my opinion is the misdiagnosis by both parents/teachers as well as doctors which as led to huge abuse of medications like Ritalin. A child who genuinely has ADHD has, as you say problems with the dopamine levels or pathways in their brain, discipline or lack thereof has no influence as the child can’t concentrate no matter how much they want to. So many of the children classified as having ADHD are on permanent sugar highs due to poor diet or do not receive enough good nutrition for brain development in addition to this there are the kids who are left largely to do what they want, and the first time they’re ever told to do something like “sit still” is at school. Anyone whose been to a children’s party with cake, fizzy drinks and entertainment can attest to the fact that it would be an impossible task to then herd these kids into a classroom and try to teach them anything. It is a constant frustration to me to have my child lumped into the same category as this and to have mothers of kids who genuinely have ADHD seen to be bad mothers who do not make an effort to discipline their kids and are just using ADHD as an excuse for bad behavior. Mothers of kids with ADHD need support and instead get run down and criticised. Children with ADHD need understanding and support, not regimental discipline. As for Ritalin, it too has been given a bad name due to over prescription for children who genuinely don’t need it. I personally do not and will not use Ritalin for my son as I prefer homeopathic treatment, but for parents who do use it, it is often a lifesaver and the only form of support that they will ever get. Just a pity for us all that so few people understand.

  4. Great post – I’ve written a couple myself about our experiences of ADHD and J’s dalliance with Ritalin. Hope it’s OK to link them here.

  5. as I have already said. it saddens me when people think that ADHD is an excuse for bad behaviour. I read a book once about teaching and it said something like poor teaching equals poor behaviour and I’ve tested it a lot in my work. (I work with the ‘disaffected youth’) if i have a bad lesson I am usually to blame!!x

  6. Great post – I can feel the frustration coming through!

    It’s dreadful that ADHD has become a throw away label for any child who is acting up as it means that children who truly suffer with it just get classed as naughty – often with an accompanying look at the parent to indicate that it is, of course, their fault.

    As ever, it’s ignorance that fuels these misconceptions, hopefully you are helping to redress the balance xx

  7. Excellent post. And so true. nd most people who say that it is bad has never lived a day of our lives and don’t know.
    Carry on with the good blogs.

  8. Another fabulous thought provoking blog from my favourite Scottish mother. Any form of mental illness is treated with zero respect from Jo Public. If you havent got a rash, a broken limb or a high temperature then you cant be ill or have a medical problem – its the same with clinical depression which is also caused by a chemical insufficiency in the brain – treatable with drugs. Makes me MAD the ignorance of people and well done you for putting it right!

    1. It’s one aspect that I find difficult for my children. The intolerance of mental health is still very high. Thanks. xx

  9. A really heartfelt post, you’re right, ADHD is a very misunderstood disorder. As a secondary school teacher I have taught students with ADHD, I have seen genuine cases which have been treated with ritalin, I have seen untreated cases where the parents refuse to give their child ritalin due to the myths you have outlined, I have seen parents and students use ADHD as a reason for their behaviour, believing the disorder means they are exempt from any disciplinary sanctions, and I have seen badly behaved students claim they have it, despite the fact the tests have come back negative. In my experience, the students with ADHD are no more or less well behaved than students without.

    I’m sorry that you have had negative experiences with attitudes towards ADHD, but at least it is generally a disorder that can be controlled when understood. x

    1. So sad when parents are scared off meds that might help their children because of the scaremongering. Thanks.

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