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“Maybe It Isn’t the ADHD”

As my children mature, they make more independent decisions about things like fashion (oh boy, the outfits). Sometimes, their bad judgment calls can’t (and shouldn’t) be blamed on ADHD.

One of parenthood’s undeniable joys is watching your children grow more and more capable of getting themselves ready on school mornings. While it takes them forever to pick out clothes and get dressed, at least Laurie and I are no longer bending over to hike on pants and tie shoelaces.

One of parenthood’s great pains is tolerating their independent fashion choices. In May they put on hoodies, and in December they’re still in shorts.

“Why’d you pick out that?” I say to one of the kids who’s wearing highlighter yellow athletic shorts, a camo thermal top, and white Converse.

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have an Executive Function Deficit?]

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“Those were the top items in your drawers weren’t they?”

He smiles. “Maybe.”

“Well, that isn’t going to work. So go change.”

As the kid turns around, I say, “Hang on. Did you take your medicine?”


“Go take your medicine. Then go change.”

As I watch the boy fiddle with his medicine bottle, it occurs to me that the clashing outfit might be totally unrelated to his ADHD. Following his recent diagnosis, I ponder more of my son’s actions through the filter of “Maybe it’s the ADHD.”

While this is helpful when picking apart misbehavior or lagging grades, it doesn’t explain everything. Kids make bizarre decisions all the time, and it could be they’re driven more by creativity or laziness or defiance than they are by inattentiveness.

[Free Download: What NOT to Say to a Child with ADHD]

A few minutes later, I go into the bathroom and see pill bottles strewn all over the counter. “Well, that‘s probably the ADHD,” I say to myself. Then I reminisce about those days of engineering their outfits and tying their shoes. Those were simpler times.

3 Comments & Reviews

  1. ‘Kids make bizarre decisions all the time, and it could be they’re driven more by creativity or laziness or defiance than they are by inattentiveness.’

    I think ‘apathy’ could also be in the mix.

  2. It’s tempting to immediately assume anything annoying or bizarre my son does is because of his ADHD, or his (acronym of your choice). But at least half the time the correct diagnosis is BHAT (Because He’s A Teenager).

    1. I think it’s true that not everything is caused by ADHD but many people would misconstrue that and it would be a little harsh to think half the kids diagnosed with ADHD don’t have it. A competent prescriber is unlikely to let that happen. There could be a problem when someone takes amphetamines and accepts a diagnosis based solely on being able to concentrate better. The truth is that almost anyone can concentrate better with a little amphetamines in about a half an hour. Doctors are less likely than ever to prescribe amphetamines. It is nearly impossible to get a prescription without a serious life impairment for the patient and a careful review and follow up on the effects of the medication. There is a paradoxical response to amphetamines for hyperactivity and impulsiveness that simply wouldn’t happen if a non ADHD child took amphetamines for a sustained period. It is tough because the symptoms of ADHD are similar to the symptoms of childhood and only a professional can sort it out. It is my belief that so many fewer girls are diagnosed because the symptoms of hyperactivity display differently and are unrecognizable as compared to boys.

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