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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.


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Communications Shutdown – Autism Awareness – Not for me.

Today you might have seen lots of posts, or information about the communication shutdown.
It is an appeal to raise awareness of autism and how it affects those affected.  Unlike those of us who are neuro-typical, many children on the autistic spectrum have difficulty communicating their feelings and thoughts in an appropriate manner, and in an appropriate fashion.

The idea of the communication shutdown is to have people who have no experience of autism feel the frustration that communicating with the world entails, by not logging onto facebook or twitter.  They also support the campaign by using the application which will post their involvement to their accounts, and donating to the campaign.

 The truth is, that simply not being in contact with social media is not even a quarter of the way to feeling the frustration that people on the autistic spectrum feel every second of every day of their lives.  The people who are taking part in the shutdown have the luxury of being able to carry on with daily life and take enjoyment from doing the most basic of tasks, and will more than likely simply replace their online activities with something else productive at home or at work. 

A good idea of how frustrating it can be for some of these children is to try reading a book, and imagine that someone is placing a black sheet of paper over the paragraph every 5 seconds as you try to read it, and then see how frustrated you get with it.  I am all for autism awareness, and the money that is raised by the people who take part in the shutdown will be a welcome addition, although I suspect the ones who take part are those who are already involved with autism on some level.

The National Autistic Society in the UK is not an official partner of the project, but wishes them every success.

As a parent with two children on the spectrum, and looking like the third is as well, I rely on the NAS for much information and support.   Locally, a group of parents decided to take action on the fact that there were no clubs to take our children to, and we began a local parent led group which provides a play club for up to 36 special needs children.   

While I wish the campaign all the success in the world, the dangers of  large scale campaigns like these,  is that those of us who struggle to provide suitable playschemes and groups on the ground may find it difficult to source funds to help these children on a practical level.   The flip side of the coin is that every pound raised is another pound spent on helping our children indirectly.  It really is a double edged sword. 

My other reason for not directly supporting the communications shutdown is that the internet is my lifeline.  Living with children on the spectrum (or indeed any child with significant special needs), may be a difficult existence.  Twitter, for me, means the freedom to indulge in general chitter chatter that is not practical in daily life. 

Often parents, guardians and carers have little or no outlet for their own frustrations and difficulties.  Friends often fall by the wayside one at a time as their children get older and become more demanding on time and ability to socialise.  If taking away the communications network for even a day could have a potentially devastating effect for even one family, then the campaign is not for them.

On a day to day basis, life here is not easy.  One of my sons is struggling at his new school and may need moved to a more suitable environment.  Being in crowds causes anxiety which translates to disruptive behaviour.   Meltdowns occur on a regular basis, but we are used to those.

Would I change my children if I could.  Yes and no.  I have been asked in the past, and have sometimes heard parents of special needs children say that they would not change them for the world.  I would not part with my children, no matter how hard work they are, but at the same time, there is always a point in every day where I wish that they could have the type of life that a neuro-typical child has.  

You have to excuse the use of the words neuro-typical as I am not really sure how to refer to the children who do not have special needs.  The use of the word “normal” would seem to imply that special needs children are “not normal”, and this is simply not true as they are indeed “very normal” in their world.

I will leave you with that last thought as this is indeed a very tricky subject and one which has raised much talk and discussion today.