distractedblog

ADHD Drives Me Bananas!

Posted on: October 7, 2011

I recently came across this interesting article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44583431/ns/health/ 

It describes a study done on rhesus monkeys; which found that putting them on Ritalin delayed the onset of puberty.

I was disappointed, although not surprised, that the study only focused on males; which furthered the false stereotype that only boys have ADHD.  Still, it made me think back to my own middle school years.  From fifth grade through eighth grade, I was the shortest girl in my class, because I hadn’t had my growth spurt yet.  I remember my friends bragging about going to “first base”  with boys (that meant French kissing) back when I still had no interest in dating and thought boys were “yucky” and had “cooties.”

My mother worried that Ritalin was stunting my growth, despite my doctor’s insistence that it did not.  Still, I remained short and flat-chested for most of middle school, and worried that there was something physically wrong with me. Eventually, I had my growth spurt, went through puberty, grew breasts and hips, and finally got my period a month before my 15th birthday.  I grew up to be a physically healthy, sexually mature adult woman.  

Recently, I read that doctors now believe that puberty begins when you reach a certain weight; not when you reach a certain age as was previously believed.  I was very skinny throughout my child and adolescent years, which certainly would explain my delay in puberty.  Like most kids with ADHD, I was very active and so I had a high metabolism. I also took ballet and jazz dancing lessons. It’s highly possible that my delay in puberty was due to factors other than Ritalin.

Does this mean that even if I hadn’t been on Ritalin, I still would have hit puberty late?  We’ll never know.  I do know, however, that had I not been medicated for my ADHD,  I would have continued to have had problems in school; both with my behavior and my academics. It would have been like first grade and second grade, before I was diagnosed with ADHD and treated with medication and counseling. That’s when I was constantly getting in trouble in school, even though I didn’t mean to. I just had trouble controlling my impulses and would often do things I knew I shouldn’t be doing; such as talking out of turn or getting up out of my seat during class. I spent many of my recesses in the principal’s office as punishment for my bad behavior. I also made careless mistakes in my school work because I wasn’t paying attention. As a result, I got poor grades even though I knew the material.

After I started taking Ritalin and meeting with a counselor, my behavior and academic performance dramatically improved. I no longer got in trouble and I got all A’s and B’s.  I continued to do well throughout my school years. In high school, I took a number of advanced placement classes, almost always made the Honor Roll, and was involved in several extracurricular activities, including theater, chorus, band, and the literary magazine. I never got in trouble or behaved badly. The only time in high school that I went to the principal’s office was when he congratulated me on being chosen as the Student of The Month. I went on to attend a highly ranked selective college, where I also made many achievements both in and out of the classroom, and graduated in four years with a 3.2 GPA.  Would any of this have been possible if my parents had chosen not to treat my ADHD because they were worried that I’d hit puberty later than my peers? Probably not.

The scientists who worked with the monkeys determined that while the monkeys on Ritalin reached puberty later, it is too soon to tell if ADHD medications will have a similar effect on humans and that we shouldn’t worry yet.

So, if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, don’t monkey around–make sure your child recieves the appropriate treatment. You’d be bananas not to!

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