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From A.D.H.D. to 8 Gold Medals

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In a recent interview with the New York Times, Deborah Phelps, middle school principal and mother of Michael, the most medaled Olympian in history, remembers how her son’s elementary school teacher once told her, "Your son will never be able to focus on anything." Michael Phelps was big when he was born (9 pounds, 6 ounces), awkward as a kid, and bullied by his classmates. In preschool, his teachers complained that he couldn’t sit still. When Michael was in 5th grade, his mother and family doctor discussed whether Michael might have A.D.H.D.

His parents, now divorced, introduced him and his sisters to competitive swimming early. By age 10, Michael was nationally ranked. Deborah Phelps watched her son, who couldn’t sit still at school, wait patiently for hours at a meet to swim a five-minute race. At 11, Michael was off Ritalin by his own choice and his coach, Bob Bowman, was already predicting greatness. Bowman, who still coaches Michael, told the family then that Michael would make the 2004 Olympics and break world records by the 2008 games.

Phelps made it to the 2000 Olympics, four years ahead of Bowman’s prediction. The rest, as we have witnessed, is history. Today, the Phelps name is an adjective, as in "phelpsian," meaning "dominating in competition." A gift, most would agree, that requires laser-like focus.

41 Comments

I commend Deborah Phelps for speaking so honestly about Michael's ADHD. I have a son, who is 18, that has it as well. He often feels incompetent and insecure. Watching Michael win and hearing about his ADHD has been very inspiring for him. I am also a 4th grade teacher in a low income school in Phoenix. Many of my students have symptoms of ADHD. I am tired of a few teachers, who try to say that ADHD doesn't exist--it is just bad parenting. I hope that Michael and his Mom will do more to help others with ADHD. I'm not sure what, but I'm sure there is something. I know there is new research being done at Vanderbilt University, and they are leaning toward ADHD being the opposite of Parkinson's Disease. It would be wonderful if we could figure out what causes it, so we could help our children more and put an end to the skeptics. Thank you to Michael and Mrs. Phelps for showing the world that these children can accomplish great things.

I do not think the conversation should be about whether ADHD exists but what is best for human beings who exhibit its symptoms. The most important thing in the article is that Michael went off drugs at age 11. Drugs are not the answer. Help kids find their passion!

This story has been so uplifting for me, and for my son. He was first diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5 and then they added Asperger's syndrome. He gets so frustrated at times thinking he will never be able to master anything. I told him about Michael Phelps and his Gold Medals and how he has ADHD. " Look what HE did" My son is so excited and uplifted by this now every time he hears his name or sees his picture my son yells" Mom thats him!!!!"
I thank Deborah Phelps for sharing with the world her son and his accomplishments and his struggles so he can be a source of hope for other parents of children with ADHD and other developmental disorders!

I'm finding when I open the articles from the magazine I'm not able to print them to share with others. Is there someway I can perform this function?

This is truly an inspiring story, one to give hope to many families. And I agree that finding a child's passion may certainly be the key, in part because the family as a whole gets involved in supporting and encouraging the child.

Isn't it funny how 'teachers' can make or break a student?? Teachers can be very biased. My daughter, now 20, wrote a paper about 9/11 for a contest when she was in the 8th grade. Her teacher gave her a D and said the grammar wasn't there. However, her paper went on to win an award for Creative writing based on grammar, content, and structure (out of 1000 students throughout 5 counties). That teacher also said she would never amount to much in high school. She went on to be in a school play, was on the golf team, and was placed on the merit roll. Her gpa in college at this point is a 3.0. The teacher from her grade school, by the way, was fired for not having HER credentials up to date. Anyone with ADHD can succeed with the right motivation WITHOUT medication. I am now a teacher because of that teacher. If teachers do not believe in their students and motivate them to do well, how can the students believe in themselves! I am so happy for Michael Phelps, and now that I know his story of ADHD, I know other students will look up to him as a role model. Congratulations to Michael for all his accomplishments. Sometimes all it takes is just for ONE person to say YOU can do it!

As a teacher, I have had several students come into my classroom already labeled ADHD. This is a catch-all acronym and too quickly diagnosed. The adverse behavior can often be settled with some old-fashioned positive attention and building of self-esteem.

This story is very similar to mine: ADHD-diagnosed child and divorce. My daughter is now studying to become a lawyer, working as a law intern, and working a part-time job. Her drive and determination are part of the ADHD personality that she always had. She has found her interests and is using her gifts. She was on medication. Don't be closed-minded with these children, any more than those that don't have it. Treat them as individuals and keep your minds open. They all have their gifts, talents, and dreams. Learn to nurture, guide, and love them.

The "real" story behind Michael Phelps is that his parents went on their own volition regarding the best course for their son. What I "saw" in reading the article is that the two teachers could not grasp alternative measures in dealing with an ADHD child. They were bound to a narrow perspective of what ADHD children, boys especially, need to learn.

As a parent of an 11 year old boy, who has never taken script medication, exercise and movement are exactly what most ADHD children require. Evidently, swimming and hard physical competitive swimming is what Michael Phelps required.

I AM a teacher and I have ADHD. I grew up thinking I was just weird and different and well, a little bit slower to take things in. I was scared to death in math classes because they moved so quickly and I barely caught on before we moved on to the next skill. As a MATH teacher, I try very hard to make sure my students are not scared of math and for those fellow ADHDers I completely understand. Yes, teachers can really undermine success, but there are many who really do understand. I am thrilled that Micheal Phelps has been so open because this allows me to share my experiences without fear of judgement.

My son, a wonderfully talented, creative young man, was also considered "goofy," and unfocused as a child and horribly bullied. He was diagnosed as ADHD at 14 and given medications that he felt made his symptoms worse. He barely made it through high school and had serious problems with drugs, primarily marijuana, which he found calmed his anxieties and actually helped him focused. At 20, he is abstaining from all drugs and using dietary changes to address his "concentration problems," as he calls them. After a particularly bad reaction to Red Bull(!), he determined that sugar and caffeine are definite problems. Since our family has a serious history of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and Type II diabetes, I truly believe that for many kids, there is a relationship between those syndromes and ADHD. I believe more research into low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of ADHD symptoms is needed. Cutting sugar and refined carbs has definitely helped my son who is now a successful musician and college student.

April, you are correct in that building the self-esteem of ADHD students and giving them positive attention will help with symptoms, but please note the key word is "symptoms." Those actions will not resolve the SOURCE of the symptoms, which is the disorder ADHD. There is no cure for ADHD; we can only try to minimize and deal with the symptoms.

I am not a medical professional, but it is my understanding that ADHD is believed to be caused by an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex and/or limbic system. Those areas of the brain are underactive (which is why stimulants are prescribed to increase activity in that region of the brain) and not firing as they should. A great deal of CURRENT research is available about the disorder, and I encourage teachers who don't think it is a legitimate diagnosis/disorder to spend just a few minutes and learn more about it. Simply do an Internet search on "ADHD" and "pre-frontal cortex" and see what you find. You may learn some things that will help you as a teacher and your students.

I heard an interesting analogy by a pyschiatrist which helped me to think of this situation in a different way. Forty or 50 years ago, many more children began wearing eyeglasses. Were children being diagnosed as near-sighted in greater numbers because optometrists and others were pushing glasses on children who didn't need them? No, new technologies became available that allowed doctors to better identify and assist children who were nearsighted. Same could be said about ADHD - it seems more prevelant because there's now awareness of the issue, and medical science is beginning to uncover the intricacies of how our complex brains work, allowing for better diagnosis. (And if you think ADHD is diagnosed haphazardly, I suggest you do a search on the word "neuropsychologist" and take a look at the process used to evaluate this disorder.)

Another factor to consider in this tale of near-sighted children: Once the problem was identified, it was corrected through the use of eyeglasses. You wouldn't expect teachers and parents to say to these near-sighted children, "You're just using your inability to focus your vision as an excuse. Try harder!" Of course that wouldn't happen. We can't do that very thing to children with attention problems who need our help. Their disorder needs to be acknowledged and the symptoms treated.

Finally, I'd like to encourage teachers and involved parents to view each other with empathy. We're all dealing with the same problems relating to these kids, and finger pointing will get us no where. We'll all do well to learn everything we can about the condition and work together to help these children.

ADHD is way over-diagnosed in this country, and teachers and schools are the most frequent abusers. The US is 5% of the world's population, but our kids take 85% of all the meds prescribed for ADHD in the world, 90% of those going to our boys. 46% of the time that a child ends up on ADHD meds, a teacher has suggested that the child has ADHD. Another 6% of the time it's another school official like a principal, counselor, etc, and it is likely that this number is under-represented for schools (Annals of Family Medicine, Sept/October 2003). One could make a compelling case that this is educational malpractice at its highest and a civil rights abuse of our boys. To truly be diagnosed with ADHD, one would need to go through a battery of tests from a highly trained Psychiatrist or Psychologists. The ADHD criteria listed in the DSM-IV (written by many researchers who work for the drug companies) is general and vague enough that most human beings might well be considered ADHD on a given day in a given context, and today many children are NOT having the rigorous ADHD testing done, instead going directly to a Pediatrician (who is being financially incentivised by the drug companies) who send the kid out after 10 minutes with a script for meds. Today, some believe that one in three of these children is on three different types of medication at a time.

Worse, recent research from John Gabrieli of MIT and William Carlezon and colleagues from Harvard have revealed evidence that even short exposure to the types of stimulant medications used to treat ADHD may be damaging to a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens (Leonard Sax's Boys Adrift (2007) details this), the part of the brain that is responsible for translating motivation into action.

The readily available research about differences between boys and girls will explain virtually all of the outward signs that often lead educators to believe that a child has ADHD, which will put the ball into the schools' courts to finally understand that the industrial model of education which expects even very young children to sit still for 20, 30, 40, or 50 minutes focused "on task" is not scientifically sound, based on normal human biology and brain development. The model is a much bigger problem than the children. Good differentiation in a classroom that allows physical and mental movement in student-centered learning activities, plus appropriate amounts of physical exercise coupled with some good old fashioned common sense would go a long way to easing this problem.

In 1975 researchers have Ritalin and Cocaine to Rhesus monkeys. The monkey made NO distinction between the drugs, preferring Ritalin just as much as the Cocaine (Johanson and Schuster, 193 (1975):676-688). The drug companies have known this, but these meds are a cash cow for them, and the doctors and educators who ought to know better either don't or don't care.

Chester,

I respect the analogy that the psychiatrist gave you, but it does not take into account what is really happening with way too many kids who aren't being properly tested; further, the outward signs that typically get young boys referred are nearly always within the normal range of developmental behavior. It's just that the "normal" range of human behavior often doesn't fit our notion of what ought to happen in a classroom. Michael Phelps is actually a perfect example of how we way too often get it wrong.

Incredible!! Michael Phelps has made incredible strides and is such a grea influence on youth but especially children with a disability.
I also was a single mother, I have 10 children and my exhusband left when my youngest baby was 9 months old. I had 10 children between the ages of 9 months to 14 years. As I read the article from Deborah Phelps it brought back such painful memories of my own son who is the second of ten and he always struggled in school and concentration was nonexistant. Teachers all through school compared him to his siblings two sisters who were before and after him who did extremely well in school. I knew as a parent he spent more time then any of my children on school work and when I heard his homework he could answer the
questions without any problem. He wqould fail test and was always being told he was lazy or day dreaming. When I approached the teachers they always said it was family problems and would never even try to help him in any way. I remember, when he was entering 8th grade the principal wanted to put him out of the school (catholic school) and I had finally taken him myself to a doctor for psychological and educational testing and he was diagnosed with Visual/Perceptual disability. The school did not want to help in anyway whatsoever. I told the principal he wanted to attend the area catholic high school and they had a program for students like my son and her only response was "oh, they will take anybody." His favorite sport was basketball but in the school instead of working with students the take away anything you like and since he did not do well in the class room he was not allowed to play on the team. Well my son did finish 8th grade in that school and I made sure the teachers were aware of his disabilit. I knew making him change schools after spending 7 years in the same school and all of his siblings were in the same school that would cause even more stress to him. My son went onto the catholic high school and did very well the school always considered his disability and most of the teachers were very cooperative. He went onto college and is now a special education teacher. He told me he does not want any child to be treated the way he was treated by teacher. It took him 6 years but with hard work and determination he graduated and this past year he completed his masters degree. He now wants to get into administration. My children have had no contact with their biological father as it turned out there were alot of problems and the courts ordered that he would not be allowed any contact with any of the children. He is now 32 years old and I know he will never forget the way he was treated. I am so proud of him and in my eyes he is as successful as if he had won the gold medal.

I disagree with you, Ken. Do you have a child, like I did, that has ADHD? She was diagnosed, after much testing, therapeutic sessions, etc., by a reputable specialist at Loma Linda. She also was put on medication and it did wonders for her. I have no regrets and, more importantly, neither does she. As a young adult, she is now off meds and very happy with who she is., studying to become a lawyer and productive member of society. Each child needs to be treated individually. Your biased-based attitudes would prevent that from happening.

Patricia,

Did you actually read what I wrote and cited? I did not say that ADHD did not exist. I did not say that no child might benefit from medication. What I wrote (and documented by the way to provide OBJECTIVE evidence instead of bias) was that there is compelling evidence that we way over diagnose ADHD and that we way over prescribe medication in the US. 5% of the world's population taking 85% of its meds? You don't think that's a little problematic? Further, the research from places like MIT and Harvard suggesting that these meds may actually harm a child's developing brain is not troubling to you in any way? I am happy for you and your daughter, but I encourage you to look at the broader picture beyond your own experience. Ironically, had you carefully read what I wrote, I suggest exactly what you do: treating each child individually instead of lumping so many into a "needs meds" category, particularly where schools are involved. When you study what goes on in schools, like I do, a compelling case emerges that it is schools who are biased against "active' children like your daughter, but most often against active boys who, because their brains are bathed in androgen during gestation, are generally always more active than most girls. And there are a variety of other factors involved as well.

Also, it sounds like your daughter DID have the appropriate battery of tests required to actually determine her condition. Part of my criticism, if read, was that an increasing number of children ARE NOT having the type of rigorous testing that it sounds like your daughter had prior to getting the meds.

My context was the broad view of the topic. Yours is from the perspective of your experience with your daughter, and both are valid and perhaps as biased or unbiased as we are. As with any large and complicated topic, particularly human development, there will always be exceptions to any trend.

I interview parents all the time, by the way, who are at odds with schools because schools (although unqualified to do so) recommend that their children be put on meds because they suspect that the child has ADHD. In the vast majority of cases the school does NOTHING to change its program to meet the needs of the student, the INDIVIDUAL attention that I recommended in the first place.

Please don't let your personal experience bias you against what may be a larger truth. And yes, I do have a child with learning needs, although not ADHD. Review the ADHD symptoms in the DSM-IV if you don't think they are very broad and general.

One last thing, researchers at MIT put non-ADHD children on ADHD meds and guess what happened? They had the same spike in academic performance that ADHD-labeled students did. In other contexts, these classes of drugs are considered "performance enhancers." As I wrote earlier I think this is a civil rights issue that drug companies know about but pay our elected leaders to go along with. It's bigger than just your daughter. Good luck to her by the way.

As a Seminar Instructor and teaching Mental Photography, I see many people that have ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia. I think very highly when a person like Michael Phelps can learn to overcome this so-called deficit, and turn it into an incredible attribute. A couple re-occurring themes that do seem to accompany ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia is the ability for that person to have incredible 'focus' on an objective, and they also tend to find school very boring. Many considerations to qualitatively monitor the environment where these individuals co-exist with everyone else should be a factor in any diagnosis.

Shannon,

Thank you for pointing out that there are many who question that ADHD is a deficit at all, but instead an attribute in the right context. I also appreciate your suggestion that the environment that a child is in may contribute to the diagnosis. I have a nephew with severe Dyslexia who also happens to have graduated near the top of his high school class. Like many people with Dyslexia he has some amazing compensatory strengths that allow him to learn well. If he were expected to do the same things as most other students, particularly listening and taking notes at the same time, school would be utterly frustrating for him. The more we study human behavior the more clear it becomes that each human, like each snowflake or grain of sand, is a unique invidual made of many strengths. Our job is as educators is to find and match those strengths with the proper learning environment. Where is a good source for information about mental photography?

Re. Ratilin

"RATILIN USE & ITS SERIOUS THREAT TO THE HEALTH OF AMERICAN SCHOOL CHILDREN: ADMINISTRATION OF RATILIN TO SCHOOL CHILDREN DIAGNOSED WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE OF WHICH HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN BY VALID RESEARCH -- FEDERAL EDUCATION POLICIES PROMOTE THE USE OF RATILIN, WHICH WILL STUNT A CHILD'S GROWTH, SHRINK HIS BRAIN, CAUSE VIOLENT MOOD SWINGS, & CAUSE ADDICTION TO NARCOTICS " From It Takes a Whole Village to Destroy a Child by Tom De Weiss

Tom DeWeiss states the following in his article:"Ritalin, of course, is the drug of choice given to children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The drug is now administered to over 10 million American children, beginning as early as four years old. Promoted by federal education policies, use of the drug increased more than 500% in the 1990s."

In his article Weiss cites the findings of Pediatrician Sally Poulton - University of Sydney, "Parents should expect their children to lose some weight and grow more slowly for a time after starting on stimulant medication, and this should be monitored."

Visit : http://www.proconservative.net/PCVol7Is245DeWeeseDestroyAChild.shtml

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your further interest. From my observations and thinking outside the square a bit, I have seen many examples of people that experience so-called deficits that move their lives in phenomenal ways. Some of the people had subtle things happen within their life, but others had rather dynamic changes in the ways that they approached and accomplished things. This was the result of them experiencing the world in a different way than what is classically referred to as normal.

There are many overlapping circumstances between Dyslexia and ADD. In some cases, professional diagnosticians may not be able to tell the two apart. That can be quite a problem, since the treatments are considerably different. My clients, by using Mental Photography, can bypass the function of Dyslexia. To them, it's a Godsend, and by giving them a heightened degree of focus, so they can turn down the internal chatter of ADD, is added benefit.

I have come to the conclusion that Dyslexia is a normal function that exacerbates the human species -- we think we are not immune to evolution. Dyslexia is a 'next step' in the evolution of humans. The reason for such an outrageous statement is that Mental Photography of information occurs at very high rates of speed. Greater than 25,000 words per minute, but can far exceed those numbers. Dyslexia gives the person problems when 'reading' at slow rates, because the dyslexic function deforms (corrupts) the information. Since Mental Photography takes 'pictures' of whole pages, the information on the page is not corrupted. Ergo, Dyslexics are automatically wired up to Mentally Photograph.

Dyslexics are naturally born to mentally function at a higher rate of speed. That's why many dyslexics find relief with Mental Photography over reading, or speed-reading. I don't want to sound like an advertisement. The question you posed required me to go a bit deeper into the information so that you could get a clearer picture. So that I can answer the other part of your question, you can visit www.eBrain.com.au . You can also visit my blog at www.mindtomind.com/blog . I hope this has been helpful to you.

Michael Phelps is certainly a remarkable and UNIQUE individual. He is going to enjoy a very comfortable living from his accomplishments, unlike 95% of his USA Olympic team mates (not to mention the many more competitors who never even MADE the Olympics)who are suddenly facing the reality of working a job they may not like making money for other people. The fact of the matter is that everybody can't be a professional athelete, movie star, or Indian Chief. If a student with ADHD expects to go to a competitive college, or work a lucrative job where they have to sit quietly in an office all day, they had better better get used to the medications that will allow them to do so. A major problem with our public education system is that training for useful, high paying jobs like those in the building trades, machinists, welders, mechanics, and other "vo-tech" fields where you physically move around, have been steadily eliminated in favor of "college prep" or remediation for NCLB tests.
All of those posting here who are critical of Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs need to consider the number of young adults (particularly in the IT industry) who start using them AFTER they leave school so that they can be more competitive at work.

John,

They are also using Red Bull and double shot expressos. I agree with your assessment about the lack of technology options in an NCLB world; I do not agree however, that someone who has ADHD is sentenced to need drugs to be effective; further, I also think there are plenty of professions where the ability to multi-task and move physically and mentally would actually be strengths. I'd like to know the source of your assertion about the "number of young adults (particularly in the IT industry) who start using them AFTER they leave school so that they can be more competitive at work." Taking speed is nothing new, but that's exactly what is happening if your assesrtion is correct. Just because people are doing something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. I'm critical of the drugs because there is an increasing amount of evidence that these drugs are harmful and also that we in the US are medicating our kids at much higher rates than the rest of the industrialized world.

I am tired of every discussion related to ADHD taking turns one of two ways.

1. ADHD does not exist: What you are saying when a person is successful despite a disability is that the person does not have a disability. If he had one he would not be successful. It is also an insult to people who succeed in spite of having a disability. Michael succeeded DESPITE having ADHD. I knew he was special needs at the first interview during the Olympics, before he won the medals. I watched how he moved and spoke and knew he was special needs. His being the best swimmer in the world did not cure his ADHD. Kids with that condition can concentrate on a limited number of things that they are really interested in.

2. Drugs for ADHD. They work for the ones who need them. I have seen them work. I knew a little girl who was up and down constantly in church, lying on the pew, standing up, talking and always sassy mouthed at home. This problem was made worse by the fact that she was living in a FEMA trailer after Katrina. I was too. But I knew she needed help and I helped her mama get her on Concerta. The first thing I noticed was that she sat through church---not asleep, listening, following the program, praying. When this happened she had only been on the medicine for 3 days. Then she did not have a sassy mouth anymore---until about 5 PM when her medicine wore off. That mouth had been getting her in trouble at school and with her mother.

Because of the medication we were also able to determine that she had a learning disability that the ADHD was covering up. She really couldn't read. It was not just that she could not concentrate. She was, at 9, almost completely illiterate and also still counted on her fingers for every math problem she did. That no longer works in the 4th grade. She could not learn multiplication to save her soul.

Drugs don't solve the problem completely, but they can definitely help and adults with the condition who get on the medication are often amazed at the improvement in their own functionality.

These drugs do not work unless the person has a neurological difficulty that is causing the attention deficit. If the problem is psychological,there is no effect.

If a person needs eyeglasses, do you deny them because they are a crutch for seeing? If he has diabetes do you deny him insulin because a junkie might get hold of the needles? If he has cerebral palsy, do you make him crawl in the dirt on his belly until he learns to walk without assistance instead of getting him a wheelchair or a walker even though he might not need it after he gets some physical therapy

I am sick of this ongoing harping and amateur diagnosis. The very parents who oppose medication are the ones who denigrate the teacher when their child has problems learning to read and who are too full of pride to admit that the need help from special education. No decent doctor is going to give a child medication he or she does not need. Kids who need ADHD medicine, if it helps them learn better in school you should not treat them with diet and behavior modification INSTEAD anymore than you treat cancer with aspirin, even though you might use painkillers as part of the treatment. You put a whole conglomerate of techniques together and the result is a functional child who learns. You don't give them Ritalin with red Kool Aid and a double stuffed Oreo after they stayed up all night playing video games and watching horror movies!

It was NOT the most important part of the article that Michael GOT OFF the Ritalin. It was the most important part that it helped him practice focusing with its assistance so that he eventually developed the skills and self esteem to function without it. And exercise is one tool in the arsenal that helps ADHD.

Rhonda,

You sound just like the amateurs I described who fancy themselves "expert" enough to recommend that someone else's child needs Concerta. What exactly are you qualifications? Your post may be the most dangerous one so far. You sound like you might be a little sassy too. Perhaps a dose of Concerta for you :)

I suppose the amateurs at Harvard and MIT who are cautioning us about these meds don't know anything either, eh?

I'm reminded of Sir Ken Robinson's TED 2006 comments on Gillian Lynne, choreographer for Cats and Phantom of the Opera. Her salvation was dance, not some yet to be invented drug for a yet to be invented disorder.

Ms. Neal,

You don't have ADHD. You have a label.

I am a 43 year old sixth grade teacher and have lived most of my life with ADHD-like symptoms. I have made many impulsive decisions, taken terrible risks, was an out-of-control teen once my hormones began to impact my body chemistry, have been unable to focus on or complete tasks (i.e. taking incompletes in college every semester), I couldn't make or stick to a plan of any kind, and I could never get myself organized. None of this was willful. Years ago I was diagnosed as being depressed. Living as I was, of course I was depressed! What doctors didn't understand was that I was depressed (to the point of suicide) BECAUSE of my inability to function in a healthy way. At 41, I essentially "broke" and was hospitalized. I always tried to do better than I could, and felt like such a failure. I was finally properly diagnosed, and treated. Regardless of what you call it, symptoms and behaviors like the ones I experienced are a living hell. Kids need adults who understand the truth of this disorder. Before medication is considered, I'd suggest getting kids off sugar and change their diet to whole foods only. Processed "food" does not help matters. With those changes in place, medication can be more helpful and possibly avoided. I can live my life with joy and peace *because* of my medication and it would be a near crime, in my opinion, to deprive a child the chance to have a sucessful childhood, self-esteem in-tact, by being, or staying, uninformed.

There's a lot going on here, but I felt that I needed particularly to respond to Rhonda.

"I knew he was special needs at the first interview during the Olympics, before he won the medals. I watched how he moved and spoke and knew he was special needs." First, a person IS NOT special needs. A person may HAVE special needs. There is more to this than just grammar. It has to do with how we see and recognize people as people first, or as disabilities. Categorizing a person by perceived disability (particularly by such vague criteria as the way they move and talk) is highly disrespectful.

Second, I don't think that any RESPONSIBLE clinicians fall into the kind of either/or definitions that you advocate (the ADHD was masking a learning disability--as if ADHD is not an LD; or behavioral problems are either neurological or psychological). People are fairly complex operations. Psychological stuff can impact physical stuff (lack of a caring adult for an infant to bond to can result in "failure to thrive," for example, or a whole horde of developmental difficulties). Likewise, physical stuff can impact the psychological (example: depression as the result of loss of function from accident or disease). And this isn't even touching on sociological effects (like going to a school where kids call you "special ed" or your teachers think you cannot succeed).

Even diabetes, which no one would confuse with a psychological disease, has profound socio-emotional effects (dealing with limitations, differences, etc) and a variety of treatment options. I used to know a nurse who was very big on integrating physical exercise into diabetes treatment. It tended to assist in burning carbohydrates and reduced the need for insulin. It doesn't mean that diabetes doesn't exist, or that diabetics should all throw away their syringes (although there is the possibility of total control for some through a combination of diet and exercise). It means that treatment should consider many aspects of a person's life--physical, psychological and emotional.

I really felt compelled to respond because the things that Rhonda expressed are identical to those I have heard from teachers and other school personnel who are in a position to do some real damage by handing out their free advice--or advocating for inappropriate diagnoses or treatments.

I am a 43 year old female who was diagnosed in her twenties with ADD and OCD and major depression. Medicines like Adderal and Effexor have made a world of difference in my life. I got through law school by hyperfocusing, something that ADD people can do, we loose interest in most stuff, but things that catch our attention, boy can we dive into it! I am glad that Michaels mom figured this out.

My son was diagnosed in 5th grade as "Gifted ADHD" and also Dysgraphia. Six months later his Neurologist diagnosed him Asperger's syndrome. What ever the label you place, the fact remains the same; these are really not deficits, but gifts! It's all according to how you look at it, and what you do with it. Whether you use medications or behavioral therapy or even a combination of both, giving the child the tools he or she needs to work with what they have, is key. The difference between an ADHD brain and the “Normal” brain can be compared to the difference between Analog TV and High Def. They can both produce a picture on the TV screen, but given the right tools (cables, connectors, the right cable signal) High definition TV can be the most amazing thing you have ever seen. With out the special tools it functions average at best. So does the child with ADHD! Give the right therapies, medication combinations and proper school atmosphere; the ADHD student can produce brilliance! Hook high definition cables and signal to an analog TV and you get, Analog TV! Some of the greatest minds in history and most successful people in the world, if still living today, would be diagnoses ADHD or even Asperger’s. The only reason they were not is because there wasn’t a better understanding of Neurological differences.

Lastly, to the teacher who posted that most boys being diagnosed ADHD just needs more structure, you are right, but the problem is structure does not mean discipline! Structure means the classroom teachers going above and beyond to make their classroom the ideal place for the ADHD mind, not conforming the ADHD student to your classroom. ADHD is not, a symptom of “Bad Parenting” and for anyone to try to place blame on a parents for their child’s Neurological differences is just plain Ignorant!

WOW! I am so impressed with the dialogue that has been generated here.

Since I have always lived amongst seemingly affected family members I have never really thought it was such a big deal to have ADHD, except that it is just bothersome and inconvenient at times, though it can be quite helpful too. However, I view it as a difference that exists from person to person that happens to have a name.

Anyway, we hear all of this talk about diversity, and how people and institutions are making it a big deal. Diversity needs to include all differences.

If anything there ought to be a disease label for narrow-mindedness.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

My son was diagnosed with add at age 7. He was behind with his speech even though we read books every night. Every year I had conference with his teachers about his problems of following directions and not being able to keep his attention towards his teachers during class. They would find him looking out of the window, which seems he was day dreaming. For four years same conference about his troubles with different teachers. I knew that it wasn't just a coincidence that these teachers had the same input about my child. I asked my boss for advice because she have a son who was diagnosed with add. I got my son checked and sure enough the Pedeatrician says he's got add. I took the chance to give him the medication for a month and didn't tell his teachers. I felt like it was the best thing I can do to help him achieve his Learning tool that he needs. Plus it made me feel bad as if I wasn't being a good mentor to him eventhough I did everything I could do to help him with his homework and speech. After a month of hiding the medication from the teachers, he's grades went from needs improvement to satisfactory and consistent. I was somewhat relieved knowing that it wasn't my fault or his of why he was having such major problems @ school or in general. So anybody out there who thinks that these such medications are somewhat an excused of how we service our kids with not enough knowledge by introducing tools from day one are the ones who's got issues of their own by thinking that they were trained from dayone of the necessaties of the corect continuous tools of descipline of knowledge. It wasnt all that that helped you it was also your mental condition that helped you achieved what you were able to achieve. Stop denying the fact that there was never a problem with other people who was diagnosed with add and that they're just using the drugs as an excuse to why such failures of achievements have ever happened. Medication is helping my son to become a better student and a better achiever so that he would also be able to speak out for other people who are being jocked by your critizing opinions.

how many of these ADAH kids are really kinestic learners? Teachers expect a child to all be visual or auditory learners and the others just sink.

I am moved my Michael Phelps story, and am so glad they shared this information. I had a co-worker thoughtfully share this article with me so that I could in-turn share it with my son as he suffer from SEVERE ADHD and from the time he was 2 we have worried wether he would ever survive a classroom setting at all. The poor kid couldn't even sit long enough to take two bites of food. He is approaching middle school and finds it extremely frustrating as he notices the EXTREME difference between himself and others- and know this will help him feel he is not alone.

To those who assume all things can be cured without medication- that is a nice happy dream in a perfect world. Never assume anything until you walk in someone else's shoes.

My name is Nikki Hughes and i would like to show you my personal experience with Ritalin.

I am 51 years old. Have been on Ritalin for 9 years now. I began taking it for depression after my marriage ended, and also in a misguided attempt to lose weight! I lost about 15 pounds at the beginning, had tons of energy, felt great...but the weight loss stopped within a few months.. I currently feel focused and motivated after I take it and am able to get a lot done. As well as the generic ritalin, I take 6 - 12 Tylenol 1 tablets a day. I know how bad this is, but can't seem to stop for more than a few days. The last nine years seem to be a blur...it's like I have lost those years....I hardly remember anything about them. I find this sad and frightening. I take what my doctor prescribed: three 10mg. tablets a day. I have tried many times to completely get off this drug but I now realize that I am truly addicted to it. If I stop taking it for more than one day I become extremely depressed and have very negative, hopeless thoughts and ideas.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
very irritable when it wears off; sometimes difficult to fall asleep, memory loss, hear music in my head that won't stop.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Niki Hughes

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  • Ritalin Side Effects: My name is Nikki Hughes and i would like to read more
  • B Gilbertson: I am moved my Michael Phelps story, and am so read more
  • Paula Walker: how many of these ADAH kids are really kinestic learners? read more
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