But last week (or was it the week before?), Video Boy had his checkup with the developmental paeditrician. All is going well - he has grown 6cm in 6 months!! I kid you not - the kid is turning into an adult before my very eyes. He has put on 3kg. And things are going well with his medication, which seems to be having the desired effect and helping him concentrate on his schoolwork and settling him down in many way. He is on a low dose for his body weight, and we will have to pay attention (ha! did you get my little ADHD joke?) to the effectiveness of his medication as he grows (even more).
I wanted to include this post and not shy away from this aspect of our homeschooling lives, because I not only do I want to demystify homeschooling and gifted kids, but I also want to demystify the controversial topic of ADHD.
I can't tell you the number of negative, thoughtless comments I come across from otherwise well-meaning people that belittle and demean this very real, very impactful condition. Things like "change your kids diet, and then they won't have ADHD and you won't need to drug them". Things like "labels are hurtful to children".
Things like this:
I think those comments and jokes come from a place of ignorance, rather than any malice, and for sure, there are some aspects of our modern lifestyles that could do with a bit of questioning, but I wonder if they would stop and think for a second how the parent who has researched and read and journeyed and consulted with doctors and has "drugged" their child might feel. I also get the feeling those comments perhaps come from a place of Facebook and YouTube research, rather than from peer-reviewed scientific information.
You see, although for us the drugs do not make a momental difference in Video Boy's everyday behaviour and we don't need them to keep our sanity intact (unlike many other families), they do actually have some benefits that help him and without them, he would struggle in many areas and perhaps not be achieving as much as he is. As he commented to the specialist: "I don't really notice the difference when I take them, but I do notice if I haven't."
Those drugs allow him to focus on work he doesn't find intrinsically interesting (maths, writing, comprehension, etc). They allow him to gather his thoughts and hold them in his head, instead of watching a dust mote float by. They minimise his reliance on the emotional centre of his brain to do his executive functioning - this means less tears, less stress, less anxiety. They allow him to manage risk better and make better decisions and to delay gratification (a very useful thing heading into the teenage years!). They allow him to make the most of his (not inconsiderable) gifts. They allow him to start to reach his potential in one piece, physically and emotionally.
Video Boy has Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. It is part of who he is. I don't want him to feel ashamed about this or the fact that he takes medication that helps him manage better. Much in the same way his contact lenses help him see normally, the Ritalin helps him think and process normally.
That is our reality.
Do you have kids or know kids with ADHD?
What about twice-exceptional (gifted/learning disabled?
Do you have strong feelings about not giving young kids medication?
Have I made you stop and think (even just a little)?