The VOICES Study and Attention Deficit Disorder

The VOICES Study and Attention Deficit Disorder
Have you ever received advice that was so abhorrent to you that you just could not think clearly about it? When our oldest son was in third grade, his counselor and teachers started trying to get us to take him for an Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis and medication. Although a friend who was a Special Education teacher reassured me that in the correct dosage, and with the right medication, that stimulant medication could bring miraculous and immediate results, I was still resistant to the idea. I didn’t want him on stimulants, since I was afraid of what they would do to him. There was no way that I wanted that bright and creative boy to become a little robot. His diagnosis would take another two years of soul-searching by his parents. He wouldn’t get medication until he had struggled on for three more years and was a sixth grader.

VOICES (Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics, and Stimulants) sought to provide a voice for children in the United Kingdom and the United States to examine their feelings about ADD/ADHD and stimulant medications. This study was conducted with 151 families by Dr. Ilina Singh from King’s College in London. She is a biomedical ethicist who is interested in how children with Attention Deficit Disorder feel about their condition and taking medication. Dr. Singh thought that shining light on these feelings would help the families, medical professionals, and school community understand how the children feel about ADHD.

Several children are quoted who believe that medication helps them make better choices. It’s not that they don’t know about choices, but rather that without medication it is incredibly difficult to choose what is best. One child felt that ADHD blocked his ability to make good decisions. Medication helped him to go around the block.

This study also found that many children do not understand Attention Deficit Disorder, since adults tend to focus on the possible side effects of the medications, rather than talk to the kids about how Attention Deficit Disorder affects them in their lives. Children need to be informed about ADD/ADHD. They must be able to discuss their condition and understand it.

Considering stimulant medication for a child is a highly charged subject for many parents. It is one that they need to consider after getting input from people in all areas of the child’s life. Careful and thoughtful consultation with a highly qualified medical professional is important, too. The person left out of the equation is often the child. The VOICES study suggests that we would be wise to listen to the children.

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