I’m actually not sure which emotion is stronger when I read "The Art of Distraction" by Hanif Kureishi, printed in the New York Times on February 18, 2012.
I am enraged when I see an uninformed individual throw out all of the research that has been done to provide help for so many affected by ADHD. In addition, I am sad for this author. It is as if he has led a life so full of ADHD impairments without the treatment needed, that he will not acknowledge that treatment and research exists.
He talks about being “humiliated by his father.” I’m assuming because he couldn’t match up to his father’s abilities in boxing as well as the fact that he apparently “was unable to learn” when younger. This is in stark contrast to what research based methodologies propose: positive behavior plans with positive reinforcements and structure.
Yes, medication like Ritalin is not the only treatment proposed by the experts. It can offer focus, but not always completely help with behavior.
Interesting that the author speaks about distraction and its importance, but I get the feeling that maybe the thought is that Ritalin takes away that ability and therefore rich experiences that come from that.
Actually, there is not anything wrong with intermittent distraction that is chosen by the person. My son who is on a medication to help him focus since he does have learning differences, knows this too well. He has discovered that changing his lap top screen briefly to areas of interest like the stock market allows him to go back to the subject at hand with better focus. This is actually called refueling…and he figured this out on his own. Our kids are so gifted!
The author equates the use of medication with turning our children into mindless robots: “stupefies the child for the parent’s good.” We Parent2Parent teachers from CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) who are always battling misinformation cannot be horrified enough at seeing this put in print.
Medications have been around for decades and have been found to be safe.
No parent wants to medicate their child in a way that hurts them. Many kids who would benefit from a stimulant both academically and socially do not use them because of this very fear of parents. The reality is that medications are monitored very closing for using the smallest dose for the biggest gain.
Again, medication is not the only treatment but sometimes is very necessary to success and self-esteem. Without necessary treatment, children self-medicate and put themselves in positions of danger and death.
Finally, the author mockingly compares his lack of ability in various areas to a failure. “Would the fact that I can’t do the tango, read music or speak Russian be considered a “condition”? “Am I ill?” What a slap in the face to those kids who have real impairments in the areas of academics and social skills.
As kids get older, most with ADHD also must deal with executive functioning deficits that impact organizational abilities, emotional regulation, time management, working memory, and planning/transition. And by the way, these are areas that cannot be managed by Ritalin.
People who are uninformed about this much researched disorder of ADHD must stop writing articles that create a mockery of a diagnosis that severely impairs millions of people in this country. Please leave the articles to those of us who work closely with CHADD and care about the future of children and adults who struggle with ADHD.
Karen K Lowry, R.N.,M.S.N.
Parent2Parent ADHD Family Trainer
Author, The Seventh Inning Sit: A Journey of ADHD
CHADD Support Group Facilitator