Let’s suppose a school administrator has contacted you to discuss your child’s “troublesome” behavior in the classroom. YOU ARE ALARMED….you want to do the right thing.
In follow up meetings, your child is labeled with a formidable sounding name (ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder, Bi-Polar, etc.) It feels like you’ve just been told….YOUR CHILD HAS COME DOWN WITH AN INCURABLE DISEASE.
Your first instinct may be to dismiss the finding. Then again, these professionals have big CREDENTIALS and years of experience…so you listen. They want to prescribe Ritalin or Prozac (or any of numerous drugs) to fix the “disturbing” behavior. You ask yourself…”WHO AM I TO IGNOR AN EXPERT?”
At the same time, you realize you should not be rushed into this decision. Your child may be started down a road of drug dependency. So you say…”NOT SO FAST! WE NEED TO KNOW MORE….”
Now you are at a crossroads. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by “experts and let them make the decision for you. But in the area of your child…YOU are the real expert.
No one knows him/her better than you. No one has invested more time, effort and love. It‘s time to step back and look at your options.
The whole are of psychiatric drugs seems a bit scary. But if there is a problem, you certainly want to handle it, to help your child. There is only one thing left to do: Get more information so you can make and INFORMED CHOICE.
The field of mental health presents you with jungle of conflicting ideas. You have been (or will be) briefed on pharmaceutical remedies by people associated with the medical and psychiatric professions. But there is DIVIDED OPINION within these two communities.
“Chemical imbalance” is often the rationale behind the psychiatric community’s emphasis on drugs. Many professionals disagree:
“We know that the chemical imbalance model for mental illness has never been scientifically proven.” ~
Ty C. Colbert, PhD, clinical psychologist
“There are no tests available for assessing the chemical status of a living person’s brain.”
~Dr. Elliot Valenstein, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Michigan
It is important to distinguish between provable medical conditions and those that fall under the murky classification of a psychiatric “disorder”.
“In medicine, strict criteria exist for calling a condition a disease…in psychiatry we do not yet have proof of the cause of the physiology for any psychiatric diagnosis.”
~Joseph Glenmullen, Harvard Medical School
More than 8 million children and teenagers are prescribed psychiatric drugs: stimulants , antidepressants, and antipsychotics. And the targets are getting younger. The most commonly prescribed drug to “treat” “so called” learning disorders is Ritalin, (now being replaced by Adderall and Concerta). Ritalin has been classified as a Schedule II drug, just like cocaine, by the FDA. Studies have shown long term usage of stimulants such as Ritalin will have severe, negative side effects such as shrinkage of the frontal lobe. That would be the cerebral, cognitive brain. This can have permanent damage to the child. Long term usage of stimulants like Ritalin can cause severe depression.
Children five years old and younger are the fastest growing segment of the non-adult population using antidepressants in the United States today.
“If there is no valid test for ADHD, no data proving ADHD is a brain dysfunction…why in the world are millions of children, teenagers and adults…being labeled with ADHD and prescribed drugs?” ~
Dr. Mary Ann Block, D.O., Author of No More ADHD
Knowledge of potential side effects of any drug MUST be a KEY issue and major concern. SIDE EFFECTS listed for Ritalin and the like can include increased violence, suicidal tendencies, physical complications and even death. Go online to: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html or see a pharmacist to help you understand the insert for the medication that has been prescribed for your child.
Once you were a child. Take a moment to remember how bored and restless you felt in the classroom, how our youthful energy sometimes got you into trouble. Did your parents put you on drugs to dull your aliveness? OF COURSE NOT! The truth is, in MANY cases children acting disruptive is not a symptom of psychological or chemical but …..A SYMPTOM OF CHILDHOOD.
So what are your OPTIONS?
Whatever it is you decide is right for your child, it’s all about making an INFORMED decision. If there is a risk involved by putting your child on medication, then you as a parent must be allowed to make an informed decision. The solution may be surprisingly practical and safe. TAKE THE TIME TO INVESTIGATE:
- School & Social Environment
This may be where your child’s trouble seems most pronounced so let’s start there. Have you gone to observe the classes, reviewed the curriculum? Go and see the school administrator or the teacher who filed the initial report on your child. Ask the hard questions, but also see for yourself. Are there children or adults in or outside of the classroom, who invalidate your child?
This is a sensitive area but it is vital that you be honest with yourself about these questions. Are there stressful elements within the family —sibling rivalries, parental fighting, divorce, abuse, etc.? Does your child watch a lot of violent TV or video games? Have you worked on getting everyone to voice their issues, solve their differences through communication?
- Diet & Nutrition
More and more evidence is leading professionals to see that poor diet and lack of exercise can have emotional and behavioral consequences. A diet loaded with sugar, for example, can make a child hyperactive and create “symptoms” normally associated with ADHD. Lead poisoning, vitamin deficiencies, chemical toxins in household cleaning products and the like can all cause a host of symptoms. Have your child checked for food intolerance and or allergies.
- Medical & Chiropractic
The possibility exists that your child has some form of undiagnosed PHYSICAL or NEUROLGICAL problem (such as allergies, parasites, poor eyesight, o nerve impairment) that is influencing behavior and cognitive function. A thorough physical check up with a medical doctor might expose some hidden causes that need attention. Chiropractic doctors can help with structural problems (such as misalignment of the spine) that may be causing and impact on your child’s nervous system that can effect behavior. A thorough spinal check up with a board certified Doctor of Chiropractic may expose hidden physical reasons why your child may have some ADHD symptoms.