Saturday, January 31, 2009

ADHD, Asperger's, Autism, and Medications

The tide was out the other day, and the clouds were just coming in...

So, my research has taken me elsewhere, lately. As always, adoption and fostering is a big thing on my heart, so my exploratory mind has been pulling me along again. :-)

This time I've been delving into foster care, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, PPD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), the Autism Spectrum in general, medications for said disorders, the credibility of the research on said disorders, mental institutions, and how that all relates to our medical system. Keep in mind as you read, that I have only done preliminary research, and most of what I'm saying here is just a conglamoration of thoughts and may not be entirely based on fact. ;-)


So here we go... After watching a video on ADD/ADHD and the medications for said disorder, sometime last year, I am not entirely convinced that ADD/ADHD is indeed real, or at least that it is nearly as widespread as they say. Basically, the diagnosis items are personality traits, albeit things that can be frustrating for someone who's brain doesn't work that way. Then again, in a much, much bigger way, autism is the same. You see, I think that if I'd been in the school system, I would have been labeled as ADHD.

I sometimes have a hard time focusing, I often break things up into little chunks because after while I can't concentrate anymore, I've always struggled with sleeping (or the lack thereof) and going to bed late, I'm fidgity, I love running around, I talk a lot (when I am comfortable), I drive myself very hard, I'm perfectionistic, I try to answer before the question is done, and not because I am impatient, but just because my brain works that way and I think the question is already over. I am easily distracted and forgetful in daily activities, and not because I don't aim to be conscientious, or because I am lazy, but simply because I honestly do not notice things. Seriously, a towel will lie on the floor for days, and finally my Mum will pick it up and come to me and say "Why didn't you pick this up days ago?" And I will have no recollection of it being there. I'm fine with cluttered rooms, and then suddenly, I have to clean everything up.

It's what they list as ADHD, and maybe I wouldn't have been labeled as such, but the point is, I'm 'normal', I function 'normally', and all those things are just personality quirks, nothing more. Annoying quirks, but it's simply the way I was made. Not a disorder, or a syndrome or anything, simply a brain design. I can't change being that way. I can soften the edges so that people like be better and none of it causes me to actually emotionally hurt others or have bad manners, but it's normal. So to me, if I have those quirks, and I'm normal, then someone who may have something far more 'serious', like Asperger's or Autism is also normal, in a different, perhaps more intense kind of way. Now maybe in order for them to be able to function they are going to need medication, and therapy, and special attention that someone like me (or you, I know you have weird quirks, that may be different from mine, but equally annoying) doesn't need, but it's the same.

As an analogy, if you stub your toe, it hurts, but chances are that within 5 minutes it won't hurt anymore, and you will never think of that particular toe stubbing again. That's me and my random quirks. And then, you could get a paper cut, and that really hurts, and you might notice it for a couple days, or even need a bandaid. That's severe ADHD, if it really exists, someone who might actually need gentle medication once in a while. Then think of breaking your arm. With the stubbed toe and the paper cut, you could probably get away with just ignoring it, but unless you want your arm to first of hurt like all get out, and secondly be crooked and useless for the rest of your life, you really need to get it splinted and bandaged. It is vital. This is Autism and Asperger's. Most of them really need some medication.

Now, as you might know from just reading this blog, I'm all for keeping off the meds and going all natural, and if you can treat the autism with just a change in diet, fine, awesome, wonderful, but sometimes medication is going to be what enables a child to function, to think, to read, to learn, and I'm all for functioning, thinking, reading, and learning. If that's what works, by all means, please do it!

The thing is that these kids, and the adults they grow into, are the minds that actually drive our world forward, that create our future. When we compare the 'ADHD' mind or the 'Autistic' mind with a 'normal' mind, what we are doing is comparing apples and oranges. I think the people that are considered 'normal' by the stats are the business suit guys who just sit counting numbers all day. The rest of us are the quirky ones. I know my brain isn't normal! I'm an artist, a lifelong learner, and as un-normal as the rest of you (hopefully).

It is this quirky-brained girl that has been called to reach out to people on the Autism spectrum and beyond. I have no idea how yet, I just know I will.

For more information, please watch this fantastic video on Autism, which deals in depth with the topic of medications.


Subsequent parts coming soon:
- 'What IS the Autism spectrum?'
- 'Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and beyond'
- 'Foster Care in Canada'
- 'Adoption on my heart'



beautifulgraceblog said...

Oddly enough, this is a subject I'm slightly curious about, but not enough to actually research it much. I am looking forward to seeing what you have to say.

I know kids who have fetal-alcohol syndrome. I know kids who are borderline autism. I know kids who have ADHD. On the one hand, I think people use their brain differences to make excuses for bad behavior that could have been prevented in a different environment. And I think labeling kids with learning disabilities hurts them because people treat them differently when there isn't anything wrong with them. But I do also know kids who have serious neurological issues. So I don't know longer.

You might like this:


Mariah said...

This is some interesting stuff. I'm looking forward to the future posts about them! :)


Lorraine said...

The towel? "I totally didn't notice!" ;-)

Idzie said...

My mom and I talk about those things all the time!! My family (my mom, sister, and I anyway, my dad's not so interested) have come to the conclusion that most (virtually, all though not, all) "disorders" are simply in the range of human differences, and really only become problems when the actual individual feels that they cannot function the way that they want to without treatment. I know people in the aspergers/autism spectrum, and I really don't think they need medication. From what I've seen (I've watched a couple mini documentaries, and met people), they are simply MORE different than other people, but every individual is unique, and they are simply that, a unique individual. I'm very anti-meds (as you may have noticed/guessed :-P) UNLESS the person actually feels they need it. I hate seeing parents pumping their kids full of drugs, or doctors pushing for the easy solution, which is simply to medicate the person out of their mind.

Anyway, I pretty much agree with you on this one, and since I find this subject fascinating, I'm really looking forward to seeing your future posts on it!

Idzie said...

And by the way, I absolutely LOVE the poem on your sidebar. It's beautiful. :-)

Sheila said...

Thanks! It's Joni Mitchel. :)