An interim post because I’ve been a weirdo reading a text book on Abnormal Psychology. Taking Sides highlights several controversial issues in the psychology field basing each chapter on a yes/no question with the arguments for and against. I have always had an interest in psychology but never pursued it as a career. The reason for this little post is to give my humble opinion on the question of whether ADHD exists and is really abnormal psychological behavior that needs to be treated with medication.
I live with a grand daughter that if she were to be evaluated would be ‘diagnosed’ as ADHD. Her biological father was diagnosed as ADHD when he was still a child. I believe that her tendencies are to some extent inherited. I see her father in her behavior even though she has had very little contact with him since she was 8 month old. For that reason I believe the behaviors displayed are more inherited traits than learned. Some may consider them just personality traits. Certainly these traits influence her personality but there is more to it than that, in my opinion. She is certainly a very active child unable to sit quietly for any real length of time. Even when she is engaged in an activity she is up and down frequently. I would say at over 90% of her waking hours she is verbalizing in one way or another. In another age she would be called a ‘chatterbox.’ She has difficulty following directions and is quite impulsive, saying and doing things without even thinking. Many times she gets in trouble for these behaviors because they are not considered acceptable or could be harmful in some way. On the other hand she is a charming and loving child. She loves to be helpful and can be quite thoughtful with things she spontaneously does for others.
ADHD does exist. I do not think of it as abnormal but the top end of a bell curve of behaviors. It takes all kinds of people to make this world function. If everyone were at the peak of the bell curve there wouldn’t be one, it would be a flat line. Flat line is an indicator of death. The world would be a very uninteresting place without that bell curve, dead for intents and purposes. The extreme ends of behavior, exceptionally docile and exceptionally active are necessary. God made them all for a purpose. I may not know that purpose but I do believe it is a reality.
Psychologists, parents, teachers and a myriad of others who deal with children believe that a child labeled ADHD displays abnormal behavior that needs to be treated, usually with medication. I do not agree. To me that attitude is based on the convenience of the persons who adhere to this notion. To medicate a child or adult to achieve a lower level of energy and attempt to focus attention is doing them a disservice. There must be other ways to teach the child to deal with their lack of attention. Personally, finding the things that interest my grand daughter helps her to learn to focus her attention. Things that interest these children will capture their attention and those are moments that can be used to help them learn how to focus their attention so they will function better in an adult world when they grow up. I find that my grand daughter is a very creative child, hands on creative projects help her to focus for longer periods of time than those things that do not activate her creative side. I’ve been teaching her to quilt, when she is truly into a project her attention span to the sewing is much longer than at times when she is not. I don’t push her to sew, we do that when she asks me, “Grandma can we go sew?” Generally I’m not doing anything pressing, being semi-retired and not working, so I will drop whatever I am doing and take that opportunity to work with her on learning the art of quilting. She loves it when we are each working on our own machines together for different projects. Sometimes sewing seams will become a race and she concentrates so hard on getting that seam done before I get mine completed. I feel that is just one way of helping her learn to focus her attention on something.
I would never want her to be medicated into being a calmer less active child. That is not who she is and I believe it would be detrimental to her creative side. ADHD should not be pathologised. It is not abnormal and though it is identifiable so are many other behaviors that are not considered abnormal. Embrace the full range of normal behaviors and love them as they are.