What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About ADD Medication

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from The Florida Jewish News, p. 13 [edited with title change] If we take a position that some aspects of ADD/ADHD are desirable, then the question of whether or not to use medication becomes a question of whether, or when, to blot out those beneficial aspects. Ritalin Can Kill: Furthermore, there is a health and safety question to consider. In April, 2000, a Michigan medical examiner ruled Ritalin to be the cause of death for a 14 year old boy, Matthew Smith, who had been taking it for ADHD for 10 years. The child died of a heart attack although he had no prior known heart condition. His parents subsequently sued the creator of Ritalin, Novartis. Ritalin is a stimulant and it works by constricting blood flow. As a result, the medical examiner in the above case ruled that there was shrinkage of blood vessels going to Matthew’s heart. Other studies (Archives of General Psychiatry, July 1996) found that children with ADHD taking stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall had a smaller brain volume than normal, either due to the same arterial shrinkage implicated in the Smith case or due to the ADHD itself. Although the findings were not clear, one fact is: Ritalin and Adderall are amphetamines, their chemistry similar to cocaine. As such, they are controlled, Schedule II drugs as classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). According to the Smith website, http://www.ritalindeath.com, between 1990 and 2000, 186 children died from taking Ritalin as prescribed. More People Than Ever Are Diagnosed According to the Duke University website, the alarming part of the medication picture is...

The ADHD Brain – What Makes It Bad Is What Makes It Good

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, p. 18. [edited with title change] As a therapist, I find the diagnostic definition of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) really discouraging. It’s all about whatever the ADD person does that’s wrong. In fact, it’s considered a disorder. That’s wonderful if you want special assistance in school (such as sitting at the front of the classroom and getting more time for tests—both of which are required by law when a child has proof of this “disease”), but it’s not so wonderful for the people who now must view themselves through the filter of this negative label. For this reason, I’d like to define ADD more accurately, by presenting the powerful and positive aspects of ADD/ADHD. What’s Bad The definition that you are perhaps familiar with, the negative and depressing one, looks at ADD as a difference in “wiring” of the brain from those of non-ADD people. It is distinguished by a lack of ability to concentrate or focus on tasks, a lack of ability to set a pattern which can be followed in the future (such as deciding where to always place keys so you don’t lose them and then repeating that sequence of steps), and a lack of conscious awareness of this process (which results in not noticing yourself place those keys down, so that later you cannot retrace your steps to find them). ADHD—the additional element of “hyperactivity” that puts the “H” in the ADD definition—may have the added features of impulsiveness (such as blurting out whatever comes to mind without thinking about possible consequences like hurting someone else’s...

Spiritual Treatment of ADHD

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from The Jewish Star Times, p. 19 I first encountered Attention Deficit Disorder when my third child was born. That was 17 years ago and it went undiagnosed. He exhibited signs which, in retrospect, were classic indicators. At age two, a respected educator and psychologist tested him–and missed the diagnosis. In third grade, I knew what I was up against when his teacher told us that when he asks the class a really, really hard question, there would be silence for a moment until a voice would call out the correct answer from under a desk. That’s when we took him to a pediatric neruologist and got the right diagnosis. So Because My Child Is ADD, That Means He Is “Disordered”? Enter, spirituality. We were confronted with the big questions that need to be answered in order to institute a behavioral/medical plan: What is this child to make of this “disorder”? Why was it foisted on him? Does that really make him a “disordered” person, somehow “less than”? What are his siblings to think of him and how should they treat him when it comes to school effort and chores? Why should he have to take medication that tastes bitter? What do we say to him in the evenings when the last dose was out of his system and he showed a rebound effect (even more hyperactivity than if he had not taken the medication in the first place)? What pieces of the problem would the medicine not address and how should we address them? I Told My Child He Did NOT Have A “Disorder” When...

Why Symptoms of ADD/ADHD Are Not Enough To Make a Diagnosis

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, pp. 16-17 [edited with change of title from ADD: A Holistic Approach] I’m not against pharmaceuticals. Not 100% anyway. My mother was a diabetic and I’m convinced the insulin she took daily prolonged her life. But when you’re looking at human behavior, a holistic perspective demands that you exhaust less invasive remedies before turning to medication. Such is surely the case with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a problem for which there exists NO definitive diagnostic tool. ADHD is an easy label to pin on an out-of-control child. The most precise measures we have to determine if a particular child indeed “has” ADHD are paper and pencil questionnaires which parents, teachers, and the child may fill out or take on computer. These questionnaires pinpoint aspects of the child’s behavior, and answering “yes” to a sufficient number of them yields a score which means that that child is behaving like an ADHD child. But is he in fact ADHD-or are other factors causing his disruptive, difficult, and hyper behavior? Before concluding that a given child is ADHD, parents, teachers, pediatricians, doctors, and psychologists are morally and ethically mandated to rule out other possible causes, such as the following: 1. abuse I recently attended a conference where I was amazed to see a video of a 5 year old child totally destroying his room over a three week period. He ripped wooden frames off windows and used the wood to beat family members who entered the room. He abused the dog. He would not let his parents come near him. He was in constant motion,...
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