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ADHD and Ritalin

(34 Posts)
lizzieb Tue 20-Nov-12 13:08:51

My very active 6 year old grandson has been diagnosed with ADHD, and suspected autism, though this is yet to be confirmed. He has been prescribed Ritalin. He can be very naughty at times, but is also very loving and cuddly. He can concentrate for hours on a laptop, or DS - though this is severely restricted when he comes to us. He has three existences. He spends one day each weekend at his mum's, who is a troubled soul leading an impoverished existence, and with doubtful choice of boyfriend. The last one, who is the father of my grandson's half sister, has just been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for domestic violence. (Not against my grandson's mum). I know he has seen violence when he lived with her. He now lives with my son and his partner, and he is the love of their lives. He has accepted my son's partner as his 'second mum' and all is well there.
He is exceptionally bright, but can often be very wilful. I know school find him a handful, but they are brilliantly supportive to my son and his partner. He spends a lot of time with me and grandad, where he gets undivided attention, and tends not to be so naughty when with us.

Has anyone any idea of the difference between plain naughty, and ADHD? The fact that he can concentrate on doing something he loves for hours makes me doubt the diagnosis.

I am also horrified at the prescription of Ritalin. I can't bear the thought that this bright little chap should be sedated.

Thanks for reading this. I would so appreciate your views.

Ana Tue 20-Nov-12 13:16:10

I'm afraid I have nothing helpful to offer, Lizzie, but am also appalled that Ritalin seems to be so freely prescribed to young children these days.

Jendurham Tue 20-Nov-12 13:32:55

When we had a guest house in York, one of the guests had a son who was ADHD and he had Ritalin.
She would give it to him in the bedroom and leave him there while it worked, then take him out for the day after she had eaten her breakfast.
When we went up to clean the bedroom, there were always crisps scattered all over the floor and the bed, so the Ritalin obviously did not sedate him!
The mother was doing a Masters degree in Educational Psychology.

Mamie Tue 20-Nov-12 13:58:33

Can you tell us a bit more about who has been involved in the diagnosis, Lizzie? Has he seen an Educational Psychologist and has he got a statement of Special Educational Needs? Have you or his parents seen the school's special needs co-ordinator? It would be surprising if he wasn't a bit troubled by everything that has gone on and obviously that can lead to hyperactivity and an inability to settle. I would collect as much evidence as you can and then you may be able to find out why the diagnosis has been made. There are quite a few of us on here who have worked in special needs and may be able to support you.

Mishap Tue 20-Nov-12 15:17:07

My nephew has a similar diagnosis and he too takes Ritalin and has for some years now. It is not actually a sedative, as I understand it, and its mode of action is not fully understood. However, my nephew is happy to take it as he knows that he cannot control himself and taking it helps him to fit in with hsi peers and get on with life a bit better. He is 15 now and has been on it some years. So - do not be horrified - it can in some cases be a positive thing.

It is a difficult one, as these diagnoses are inevitably slightly shaky as there are no tests that can be done - there are clear features however of both illnesses that can suggest the diagnosis. It is interesting when the two are diagnosed together, as autism itself can cause symptoms very similar to ADHD in some children.

Whilst you may feel uncertain about the diagnoses, there is nothing particular to be gained at this stage by querying them as they will unlock help and support for him at school which can only be valuable. It is wonderful that school are so supportive - this is not always the case. Because of the nebulous nature of some of the behaviour and the lack of clarity around what is naughty and what is pathology, some schools can be very unhelpful indeed, as in the case of my nephew, who is constantly in trouble at school with detentions and so on - and the family constantly have to explain what triggered the behaviour and how it might have been avoided.

FlicketyB Tue 20-Nov-12 20:48:36

lizzieb, I have been told that I am at the mild end of the ADHD spectrum and having done some rsearch I think that is probably correct. Lack of concentration and concentration do go together in ADHD.

I find it very difficult to concentrate if there are other people around or other things that need doing, or any other distraction I can think of (like Gransnet)but once I do get stuck in on doing a piece of work, the last trumpet could sound, the house go up in flames or a herd of elephants thunder down the road and because I am so concentrateed on my work I just do not notice. It is a family game to have long conversations with me when I am reading with the family member concerned, usually my daughter, making all my responses for me and I read on blissfully unaware. It is called hyper-concentration.

Fondasharing Tue 20-Nov-12 21:33:30

lizzieb ,like you I have a grandson who may be diagnosed with ADHD (I say may, as his teacher has suggested this as an explanation for his ability to concentrate and his physical "liveliness" (I am yet to be convinced). He is 5 years old and again, as with your grandson is the most loveable chap. He is very much like his Dad (my youngest son) in that he suffered with glue ear from early childhood, and may also be dyslexic (a definite link with glue ear).

What we have discovered is a link between what he eats and his physical behaviour. His mum has cut out all sweet things and increased his intake of essential fatty acids and so far, so good.

He also can concentrate for long periods when he wishes, when he is with us or in a situation that he adores (looking for bugs, building lego etc.etc.).

My eldest daughter is a primary school teacher in Scotland and is concerned that some teachers (particularly those who do not have children themselves!) do find it challenging in dealing with lively boys. There are studies out there which suggest that young boys should definitely be taught in a different way than girls. My daughter has 3 boys in her class (boys that another teacher would informally diagnose as having ADHD), but she knows from having a lively boy herself, that they need to have lots more physical outlets than other children.....she moves them around them time out and gets them outdoors as much as possible (in Scotland it is called Grounds for Learning).

So, unless as Mamie suggests, your Grandson has been properly diagnosed, and other avenues explored, he sounds pretty much like a lot of other lively boys who need some concentrated efforts to discover how they are best taught and respected as normal.

Hope all is well and that you get the answers you need.

gracesmum Tue 20-Nov-12 21:45:25

Lizzieb have you looked at diet? I know of a case where reverting to a "stone age" diet i.e. without processed food of any sort made a huge difference. There was also a fascinating radio programme about mapping the incidence of ADHD across the USA and the correlation with the introduction and spread of processed (not only junk) food. I don't know enough to say any more but do look into it. Did ADHD exist in the past? It can be too glib to go for a diagnosis of ADHD for an otherwise lively inquisitive child, but it isalso too easy to say there were just "naughty children" however, nutritional evidence does suggest that there is a link with brain function, concentration and consequently behaviour.

Nanadog Tue 20-Nov-12 22:50:58

I have over 25 years experience working with children and for Children's Services in an Advisory role. ADHD never existed when I started teaching. There were other conditions that never existed then either, such as dyslexia and autism. Or at least they were not acknowledged or understood.

However I remember thinking 'this child really does try to spell or read and they genuinely just cannot hear the sounds and blend them in their heads' (dyslexia) and I remember asking the Ed Psych 'could it be that there are varying degrees of autism?' only to be told 'no'. Now we all know there is a continuum.

But I have never believed that ADHD is so commonplace. Yes, it does exist but it's rare. More often the attention deficit is due to upbringing; lack of consistency from parents and other significant adults, poor child rearing practices, bad diet, lack of exercise, and so on. It is interesting that your GS is able to concentrate under certain circumstances and his behaviour improves when he's with you lissieb. It is utterly disgraceful that he has been put on Ritalin.

Ana Tue 20-Nov-12 22:54:18

Well said, Nanadog!

Nanadog Tue 20-Nov-12 23:36:57

Thanks Ana moon

Faye Wed 21-Nov-12 03:39:28

I agree too Nanadog I believe they should first look at what the child is eating and also lack of exercise. Children are often driven to school nowadays after eating a processed sugary breakfast and drinking a sugary processed glass of fruit juice. How many doctors ever question what is causing the symptoms?

Mamie Wed 21-Nov-12 05:12:52

I agree with your post, nanadog, but I remember teaching a boy who I can clearly see now had ADHD. He had the most caring (and distraught) parents who tried everything and I wish we had been able to get a diagnosis for him. I still wonder what happened; he must be about 45 now!

FlicketyB Wed 21-Nov-12 08:33:13

I agree that there is a tendency to over diagnose ADHD, but it does exist, it was first described well over a century ago and when I was researching it, I was amused to discover that one of the first phrases used to describe children with ADHD was very familiar from my own childhood. I was often descibed as 'Fidgety Phil who can't sit still'. My mother discussed in later life my inability to concentrate and my constant activity.

As I said I am at the milder end of the ADHD spectrum. I come from a secure family background and suffered none of the family problems described by Nanadog and I do believe that was an assistance but the problem does exist. Whenever I see Boris Johnson, I think ADHD. It is not necessarily a major handicap.

JessM Wed 21-Nov-12 08:58:22

Well lots of really driven, hard working people probably, not just Johnson.
My DH says the govt ministers he has met all seem to have the attention span of a gnat! (and can't/won't concentrate long enough to understand anything complex and technical, would be his rider)
I think it is hard for very active children to adapt to school so young, when they start so early and are expected to sit down a lot, in a non-physical environment.
Such children in our evolutionary past were on the move all day, helping with the food gathering and looking forward to the day when they would be strong enough to follow the hunters all day.

Riverwalk Wed 21-Nov-12 09:29:31

I didn't know that Johnson had ADHD.

Might explain a lot.

lizzieb Wed 21-Nov-12 10:50:04

Thank you for all of your messages which I have found most helpful. I need some time to absorb your comments and will write later. I just didn't want to let time pass without thanking you.

FlicketyB Wed 21-Nov-12 11:06:33

I dont know he has it, but he displays all the signs, frenetic activity, impulsiveness, and from what I have read, wildly disorganised, with tendency not to be good at detail coupled with a very good brain.

Parsley Sat 01-Dec-12 23:39:16

My son has ADHD & Autism & is the same. He can concentrate for hours on computing, but on many basic tasks he continually forgets what he is doing. He struggles even to dress himself & he does have some incredibly silly moments when he can't calm down despite numerous warnings. It is hard to understand why these children appear to be able to concentrate sometimes & not others but it is still a genuine condition & not just a naughty child. My son is the sweetest boy when he's calm but he can also drive me to the end of my tether! It's not easy.

maxgran Tue 11-Dec-12 15:24:26

I would be interested to know why so many children are diagnosed ADHD these days when it was unheard of in my youth.
What causes it? ...and why are they not trying to prevent it?

My daughter's son is still going through lots of tests but the paediatrician keeps insisting he has ADHD and will need Ritolin so they can get funding for special help for him in school.
My daughter absolutely refuses for him to be sedated as although he is very demanding - she copes. He is being tested for XXY syndrome and also Prader Willi so until she is sure what his diagnosis is - she will not allow him to be drugged.

FlicketyB Tue 11-Dec-12 16:42:06

ADHD wwas first recognised and written about in around 1912. It is another of those conditions like dyslexia and disparaxia that are caused essentially by the brain not fully wiring up correctly in the womb. This means there is no way of preventing it. It didnt seem to exist when we were young because it wasnt looked for. I am nearly 70 and have been told I am probably at the milder end of ADHD. When I found information on the problems I recognised so many of them as causing me the problems that were always getting me into trouble as a child. I am also dyspraxic, that wasnt diagnosed until I was in my 40s for the same reason.

Without knowing all the details I am surprised that if he has XXY syndrome and Praader Willi they think he is also ADHD. I would have thought the symptoms of these disabilties would acount for any ADHD type symptoms.

Nelliemoser Tue 11-Dec-12 17:35:32

It does seem that there are more and more children now with these conditions as a possible diagnosis.

How many of these ADHD/ASD children would in earlier days just have just been labeled as Maladjusted, particularly those who were at the bouncing off the walls level of hyperactivity?

I would to see some stats about whether or not the proportion of school children considered in the past to need "special schools" has changed.

Now most "special needs" children are integrated into ordinary schools, with a "statement" (which term or action is not used so regularly now).
Is it just that this group of children are now more visible in ordinary schools that makes it appear that these conditions are on the increase.

I mean by this, are the patterns of behaviour considered now to be typical and indicative of ADHD and ASD really more prevalent than they used to be, when children who were obviously not managing in normal schools were just loosely defined as Maladjusted (now EBD) or (ESN) moderate learning difficulties.

To put that more crudley, have these specific patterns of behaviour always been there in the the same proportion of the population and it is just now a child is more likely to have a lable?

I know there are some experienced special needs bods out there who might be able to advise me on this.

That is if you can understand the very particular point I am trying to make.

Then we can all retire with a headache for a cup of tea. confused

Greatnan Tue 11-Dec-12 17:35:59

When I was a child in the 1940s there were plenty of 'simple' children around. Even earlier, each village had its 'innocent'. I find it hard to accept that children as young as four should be expected to sit still in classrooms for up to five hours per day. No wonder they get fidgety.

Mamie Tue 11-Dec-12 17:47:38

I think that the conditions have always been there, but are far more likely to be diagnosed now. I also think that social setting / environment may also have an impact. I read something the other day (maybe on here?), suggesting that ADHD may be more common / obvious in an urban and crowded environment.
Certainly many more children used to be in residential special schools. I always remember hearing a man speak at a conference who had been kept in a special school with children with severe learning difficulties because he had had polio as a child and couldn't walk.

petra Tue 11-Dec-12 18:53:59

This makes me so angry. My Daughter and myself have known for about 3 years that there was something " different " with my GS. We have looked at EVERYTHING ! The only thing the school could come up with was this bloody label And In case some of you don't know, the school gets money for these children.
Only the other day we were looking (once again) and were looking at Dyspraxia.
This led us to "Children with sensory problems " to say it was a light bulb moment does not explain it.
When we went through the check list, it was all there. My DD is now waiting for an appointment to see a therapist. And now that we are aware of this it makes it so much easier to understand some of the different behaviour.
Don't just go down the ADHD route. There are other reasons out there, and some good books.