KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even the Comics Spread Misinformation on AD/HD

A colleague wrote tonight, on the chatty spinoff of an e-mail list for editors that I subscribe to:

For the AD/HD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder] families out there; the one dated November 26th: http://comics.com/reality_check/
Here is the direct URL.

I live in the House of AD/HD, in which my father-in-law, husband, and two sons have diagnosed AD/HD; my mother-in-law has what we all strongly suspect is undiagnosed AD/HD; and I am the only person without AD/HD. I can't possibly express how many ways that this comic offends me, but here's a damn good start:

  1. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not take away talent.

  2. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not make one an affectless zombie.

  3. Parents generally do not make the decision to give AD/HD meds (many of which are controlled substances) lightly. (That leads to corollary 3a, which is this: Parents do not give their children AD/HD meds to get out of the hard work of parenting "difficult" children.)

  4. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not change one's personality.

  5. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not make one "normal"—and how is "normal" defined anyway?

  6. Being extremely intelligent or talented in one particular area does not make one "abnormal" and thus in need of medicating.

  7. Physicians do not give AD/HD meds to every parent whose child is "different."

Comic? I don't think so. Am I humorless on this topic? You betcha, when stereotypes and misinformation are involved. Get the facts, bub. Get the facts. Get lots and lots of 'em. Then we'll talk about what's funny and what's not.



Anonymous said...

of course this assumes that what you are linking to IS the facts. If you are the person who has been medicated for something that you did not have it is funny in a sad sort of way. I speak as that person. I am not sure that ADHD even exists and even if it does, I suspect that there is a lot less of it out there than CHADD or some other such front for the pharmaceutical industry would have you think. In my case and many others, ADHD is simply the means through which people excuse their shitty parenting.
That's pretty much child abuse of the worst kind.

Mary Beth said...

It is SO not funny.

and Anon, there are so many kids in my life who could have been helped by meds that didn't exist (in the past) - and who HAVE been helped by meds now available.

Do some docs throw meds at every problem child? Do some parents? sure. But not just for ADHD.

Sorry you had a bad experience, but that doesn't mean the disorder does not exist and that meds are not helpful and even imperative in some cases.

libhom said...

I myself wonder if the ADHD drugs stifle creativity, which generally involves not being focused.

I also think the reason why so many people like Anonymous question the existence of ADHD is that most of the kids getting the drugs don't have it. Living with ADHD, I know that it is only genuinely found in a small minority of the population. Most of kids being diagnosed are really just ingesting too much sugar and caffeine.

Of course, the false diagnosis syndrome could cause serious problems for people who really do have ADHD, especially if a broad belief takes hold that it doesn't exist.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

LibHom, you know that I like you and agree with you on many subjects. But this is an area where I think we're always going to disagree.

Both children and adults can have AD/HD in varying degrees. Some have it mild enough that they can cope with it without assistance. My husband and I have a friend, a guy with a PhD in chemistry, with AD/HD that's mild enough not to require medication or official treatment.

Sugar and caffeine are never the cause of AD/HD-like symptoms; that they are is a myth that lots of people seem to love dearly. But until you've lived in my house or in the house of one of my friends whose son has severe AD/HD and is a genius, you won't understand the extent to which untreated AD/HD can get in the way of both expressing genius and having regular life experiences, such as being able to maintain friendships or being able to hold a job even in a booming economy.

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