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Is this discrimination?

Hi everyone. I don't have ADHD, but someone who joined my family some time ago does (we'll call him T), and is currently going through some trouble which I find quite perplexing.

Some background: T has two daughters (8yo and 6yo) under shared custody with his ex-wife (they spend roughly the same time with each of them during the week). T has had some serious difficulties through his life, some of which are structural and will likely stay with him forever, such as difficulty to hold onto a job or keeping his house tidy (even less so when his kids are home), and others of which are temporary by nature, such as the recent death of his mother.

His daughters had been having some issues for quite some time, including school performance and very frequent misbehaving. I don't particularly dislike kids, but holy shit, the very moment they got used to me, they became imps, almost constant screaming, fighting each other, not attending to reason, and so on. And I've barely seen them a handful of times. Anyhow, T decided to seek the root of these issues, discussed with his ex-wife the possibility of getting them evaluated for ADHD, and the ex-wife refused. T went forwards anyway, and the girls are now diagnosed with ADHD, and assigned to a psychologist who should theoretically have a session with them each month, but in practice, they're given less than 5 appointments a year. In general, T's complaints that he wanted more guidance on what to do with them have fallen on deaf ears.

A few weeks ago, social services knock into T's home, and naturally, they find that the house is a mess, because it always is. They take note of it all, and recently summoned him for a meeting.

T's current partner recently told me how the meeting went: social services claimed that the kids are sometimes late to class and they sometimes don't go at all, attributed all the responsibility to him, and he refuted that, while he's sometimes late when it's his turn to take them to school, they only completely miss class when they're staying with their mother. Social services disregarded this (shouldn't they have the means to corroborate it?), and proceeded to explain that, as a person with ADHD who cannot keep his life in order, he doesn't seem to have the competencies to raise the kids, so they want to impose a change in custody where they would stay with him less than 33% of the time.

What I'm getting from this is that the only thing the administration will take into account when determining whether you should be raising your kids or not is your medical conditions and how disorganized is your house. The kids have some issues, sure (I'm not arguing that they being late to class or missing at all is ok), but if there are two separated parents, and one has an ADHD diagnosis and the other doesn't, is it ok to attribute all issues on the diagnosed parent rather than checking where the problems are coming from? Shouldn't the fact that the kids have ADHD a reason to want to make sure and the parent who does also have it to be more involved in their upbringing, since the one who doesn't will have less experience with it and its difficulties?

kandoh ,

An 8 and 6 year old not going to class is pretty concerning, where are they?

SuddenDownpour OP ,

Apparently staying at the mother's home.

BilboBargains ,

It makes me sad to read these stories. Neurotypical people have an incredibly difficult time understanding that their lived experience is not the same as other people. They try to force a square peg in a round hole and when that fails they accuse the peg of non-compliance and set about knocking the corners off it.

My daily task is to sit with my daughter and tell her she's ok and remind her of all the amazing things she is and does. She didn't choose to be like this, none of us chooses our DNA, parents, environment, preferences. Let's stop pretending that free will exists and accept each others lived experience. That's the path to compassion and love.

meco03211 ,

He could hyperfocus on that niche area of law. With the right searches you can find actual court documents that give you explicit wording of what to say or present. Can also help them avoid saying or doing the wrong thing.

Might not be much, but it could help.

aksdb ,

If one could "just hyperfocus" on something, AD(H)S would be a weapon, not a disorder.

meco03211 ,

Some of us can. Which is why that was merely a suggestion. If it's not applicable to OP they can disregard. Did you not know people could do that?

aksdb ,

My understanding is, that the hyperfocus sets in for something that catches ones attention in the right way. If one was able to do that deliberately with any chosen task/topic, would it still be an "attention deficit"?

meco03211 ,

It can't just be explicitly directed. But in this case, the ADHD friend in question already has a vested interest in the subject. That makes it much easier to get a dopamine fix by digging into that subject.

aksdb ,

That's true. The circumstances could be right. If reading laws somehow put him off though, the criticality of acquiring this knowledge might still not offset the "negative" dopamine.

kashifshah ,

Interestingly, some of the research that I’ve read has been pulling at that thread - there are possible evolutionary advantages to ADHD and specific situations in which people with ADHD (innattentive type, myself) actually excel over neurotypical people.

aksdb ,

I know, but even those theories (if we talk about the same ones) argue with the attention quickly swapping to new situations, making one practically a "problem solver". I think, however, that still only works out under the right circumstances and might only be an advantage in the statistical median. Some problems/topics simply don't catch ones attention and then the missing dopamin rush will simply prevent one from focusing on it. So I think someone with ADHS alone would have a big evolutionary problem, but in a group of people they can jump into action whenever the right circumstances occur and then solve whatever it is quicker than anyone else.

kashifshah ,

So I think someone with ADHS alone would have a big evolutionary problem, but in a group of people they can jump into action whenever the right circumstances occur and then solve whatever it is quicker than anyone else.

Interesting insight - presumably any evolutionary advantage to ADHS would be due to an improved ability to procreate (jumping into action, making the opposite sex… happy… by saving the day) or to stay alive (jumping into action and staying alive to procreate another day).

I think, however, that still only works out under the right circumstances and might only be an advantage in the statistical median

I definitely agree on both counts. I’ll have to go looking for some recent studies to see what’s going on these days in the research.

The statistical significance is always key. But effect size is important.

There’s the concept of correlation, as well - there could be a statistically significant correlation, but it could still be either a weak correlation or a strong correlation.

Again, definitely piqued my interest for digging into some psychology research again! Thank youfor that.

aksdb ,

Did I trigger your hyperfocus? 😁

kashifshah , (edited )

haha yes you did lmao

fwiw, my hyperfocus, coupled with an autistic interest in how the mind works, enabled me to get a degree in mathematics and degree in psychology.

i have other co-occuring disorders that compounded things though such that i can’t really work or do anything economically productive with those degrees, sadly

but your message just put a smile on my face, so thank you :D

edit: such that I can’t YET really work or do anything economically productive with those degrees

feedmecontent ,

I've been wondering lately if I wouldn't be more able to control it if I'd been educated in a way that was for me.

On one hand, the trauma from big and small punishments for not being as good at "traditional" task completion styles causes a certain type of reaction around task completion. I think this negative side is the side most people would agree with.

But aside from the present negatives, what about the absent positives? Most people get educated from early childhood to complete tasks in a style that suits them. The systemic memory of how to complete tasks the way neurotypical people complete tasks gets passed down to them and gives them the best chance to get the best of their inherent way of doing things. What if people who complete tasks differently had this sort of education? Would controlling the hyper fixation be more universal? Idk just something I've been thinking about.

Edit spelling

jqubed , avatar

Apart from the ADHD, it sounds like it’s time for T to get a lawyer who specializes in child custody issues, and preferably a lawyer who is not afraid to go to court. My wife’s first lawyer presented himself as someone who wanted to work hard to avoid court and resolve things through negotiations that reached a mutually acceptable solution. That’s all well and good if everyone’s trying to work towards a good solution, but her ex-husband was ready to burn it all down because she dared to leave him and that first lawyer was almost a liability in the courtroom even with things that should’ve clearly gone her way. Her new lawyer is a fighter and is able to shut down any crap the ex-husband tries to pull now, and he hasn’t tried anything in a couple years.

Unfortunately, a lawyer like that doesn’t come cheap. You can help lower costs some by trying to do as much as you can gathering and organizing evidence so when you meet with the attorney they don’t have to spend as much time doing that. Most of the evidence gathering falls on the client anyway. The attorney should be able to give guidance on what that evidence should be and how to organize it. You’ll probably want at least 3 copies of everything and have it in binders when going to court or some other meeting that needs evidence. And evidence is key with all of this; he can’t just say the kids were with their mom when they missed school, he’ll need to have papers showing the custody schedule and papers showing their attendance.

All of this sounds like it will be a challenge for T, both financially and organizationally. He will have to find a way for the sake of his girls, and will probably need as much help as you and your family can give him. If the ex-wife is trying to prevent the girls from getting treated for their ADHD that could have bad effects for the girls both short- and long-term. Courts and social services generally take a negative view on obstructing treatment, but T will have to prove that’s happening. And it sounds like the mom has tried to weaponize social services against him. He can succeed in fighting against it but will need to do a lot of work.

This might become the most important fight of his life.

SuddenDownpour OP ,

Just a note, I wouldn't immediately assume that it's been the mother of the girls who has been stoking the fire, at least neither T nor his partner have told me anything of the sort. It wouldn't be impossible for a worker of the school to contact social services upon noticing that the girls were routinely having issues, and someone from there deciding he was the easiest target to take the fall.

kashifshah ,

T would benefit from reaching out for mental/behavioral health assistance above and beyond just seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. He needs additional supportive services that may be called something like “skills training”.

With that in place, and a demonstrated record of showing signs of improvement, and a lawyer, he ought to be able to get custody back.

Might be worth seeing if the administration can come to an agreement that he gets further supportive services before they reduce custody.

SuddenDownpour OP ,

T would benefit from reaching out for mental/behavioral health assistance above and beyond just seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. He needs additional supportive services that may be called something like “skills training”.

He has been seeking that help, but it was only after being annoying for years that he got a doctor to agree to prescribing Adderall. Mental health services here are criminally underfunded, and private therapy is also not an option due to his financial situation.

he ought to be able to get custody back

He hasn't lost anything yet. At some point they'll hand him a contract to accept or reject a new custody regime, and if he refuses to sign it, it might predictably be taken to the courts.

kashifshah ,

Mental health services here are criminally underfunded

Par for the course in the USA.

He has been seeking that help, but it was only after being annoying for years that he got a doctor to agree to prescribing Adderall.

Also, par for the course in the USA. Recently, Adderral has been undergoing a DEA mandated supply shortage and since the 00s doctors really have been averse to prescribing it, in particular. There are now non-stimulant alternatives with less side effects.

What I am saying though, is that he needs a social worker to be spending an hour every week with him. If he is on Medicaid, due to his financial and medical situation, then he should be readily approved for the “skills training” side of mental/behavioral health care, which often comes from a social worker.

SuddenDownpour OP ,

None of us is from the US.

kashifshah ,

Ah, well, then none of my advice likely applies, unfortunately. It would help to know what country you need the advice for. Some western countries might follow a similar style of treatment, where you need to get the help of a “social worker” for “skills of daily living”

SuddenDownpour OP ,


kashifshah , (edited )

Well, I spent a little bit of time digging, because I was curious, but the language barrier is making it a little slower.

My best advice for you would be for you to reach out to the Minesterio de Sanidad. Tell them that you are reaching out in concern for a friend, explain the basics of his situation, with an emphasis on his struggles with keeping a clean house, etc., and that you want to find out what services the Sistema Nacional de Salud offers on an outpatient basis for assistance with daily living skills or rehabilitation.

They ought to be prepared to handle a request like that without too much routing around. The goal is to find out what they can do to help your friend satisfy the courts requirements for a child rearing environment.

edit: oh, also, check out - in Spain, what you need is one of the publicos “Centros de Dia” services, or maybe privados con plazas concertadas, but T sounds like he would belong to the Asistidos category of needs

edit 2:

SuddenDownpour OP ,

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but virtually everyone here knows their local healthcare center (centros de día o centros de salud) from which we interact with these institutions. Given that I already mentioned that T isn't in a good financial situation, someone from here would correctly assume that all medical interventions related to his ADHD have been handled through the public system. Just so that you understand, this is the equivalent of telling someone from the US with problems to pay taxes to get in contact with the IRS.

kashifshah ,

Well, in that case, advise him to the pressure on the centros de dia o centros de salud to get him the help with cleaning house like he did with the doctor and Adderall.

As an aside, indeed, in the US, if you have a problem with paying your taxes, you have to talk to the IRS. Same with healthcare, you have to engage with the social services system to get the right services.

But again, don’t lose sight of my main point - leverage social services assistance for custody purposes in the long run.

Peace and out, before I further annoy you.

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