So, has anybody asked ADHD kids what they really think about their meds? Do they really turn them into zombies or do they actually help them with impulsivity, learning and behavior in general? Were these the best ADHD meds for them?
These were the questions that have been bugging a Kings College London researcher, Dr. Ilina Singh for some time now. Up to now, parents, teachers and medical staff have all had their say but nobody ever thought of asking the children themselves! That was the best idea in a long time.
With funding from the Wellcome Trust, Dr. Singh has just published her findings (the ADHD Voices Project). She interviewed 151 youngsters ( UK and USA). The big news is that, even though this was quite a small sample, the dreaded side effects of the drugs did not appear to be on the top of the kids’ lists at all. There was no clear opinion what meds were best. That is not to say, of course, that the stimulant drugs for ADHD are the answer either.
The interviews revealed quite a few startling facts:-
- doctors rarely ask the children what they think about the best way of coping.
- bullying is a problem at school for them and more than is reported by school authorities
- kids said that when their meds kicked in, they felt at their best. They were more confident about dealing with anger issues and bullying. They thought that they were getting some time to think before acting.
- the side effects were mentioned by a small group of those interviewed and the general feeling was that they did not feel like their true selves. The percentage of those kids is not mentioned.
- there was far too much emphasis on the physical side effects of the drugs instead of looking at the bigger picture.
The main message.
But the principal message from the ADD Voices Project is that the children would like to see a lot more alternative forms of treatment offered so that they could pick and choose and also be given some more time and leeway for experimentation. The main problem is that the alternative forms of treatment are just not available and when they are, they are troublesome and expensive. Dr.Singh herself believes that the best solution is that there should be a better and wider choice made available more easily. Some of the alternative options to meds that could be considered were :-
- behavioral therapy
- alternative treatments
Reactions to ADHD
Children in the USA were usually put on the meds in order to do their best at school while those in the UK seemed to be prescribed when they were disruptive and naughty. There were problems too as regards the best ways of fighting the stigma attached to ADHD. In the UK, the children felt that they were easy targets as they would react or overreact to being teased and this was a problem. They felt that teachers were not much of a help. Let us hope that by adding their voices will have some effect on the way they are teated for this disorder. Parents can also help more by reading about ADHD and learning about ways to make their kids’ lives easier.
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