Letter: Desperate parents suffer too

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The Independent Online
We have an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) child, who also has the more severe condition Oppositional Defiant Disorder ("Drug him when he teases", 27 October). Now 15, he has been taking Ritalin for three years. It has turned our life around. In the past three years I have had to physically restrain him only a dozen times, not four or five times a day.

The apparently dysfunctional parenting found in some ADHD families is almost invariably a result of the ADHD, a desperate way of coping with an overwhelming and rarely understood problem, not the cause of the condition. You also find dysfunctional parents of epileptic children: it doesn't mean that epilepsy is caused by bad parenting. ADHD children need different parenting: so do diabetics, epileptics, haemophiliacs and children traumatised by war. Do we blame the parents for the different behaviours these children exhibit? Manyneed medication of various kinds. Is that a moral issue?

If ADHD is caused by bad parenting, why do our son's birth parents (he is adopted) and four of his genetic siblings also suffer from the condition (our son had no contact with his birth family until after he was diagnosed), but our other three children do not?

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