Many of us are aware of the dangerous side effects and addictive qualities of Ritalin. Yet, every day, over a million and a half kids, labeled as A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. will line up for their midday dose. Why are 5-8% of our school age children on psychostimulant drugs and why aren’t safer alternatives being utilized in the mainstream?
A.D.D./A.D.H.D., whose growth rate was relatively flat in the 80’s, increased over 500% since 1990. Ninety percent of Ritalin usage now occurs in the U.S. What sparked the rapid growth of cases diagnosed and drugs prescribed since then? Could it have been the early 90’s government subsidies to families and schools for children diagnosed? Or, the 1991, Dept. of Health and Human Services mandate that teachers “actively seek to identify A.D.D. children and refer them for treatment”. Coincidentally, this was brought about through the lobbying efforts of C.H.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit). According to Fred Baughman, Jr., M.D., of Applied Scholastics International, C.H.A.D.D. is funded by Ciba-Geigy who also funded the National Institute of Health studies supporting their data. During this same time period, psychiatrists have been broadening definitions and lowering thresholds for diagnosis.
According to C. Everett Koop, M.D.,former U.S. Surgeon General, “…there is no universal agreement among those in the field about what constitutes A.D.H.D., what causes it or how it should best be treated. In fact, there remains some controversy about whether the disorder truly exists.”
Two people who are shifting our focus to a new perspective are Lee Carroll and Jan Tober, authors of The Indigo Children. Along with other specialists, they have been observing a phenomena that is becomming so prominant that it cannot be ignored. Their contention is that approximately 90% of children being born are coming into this world with a whole new set of ablities, behaviors, personal power, integrity, and level of consciousness that are entirely different than what we are used to seeing. It is hypothesized that this is part of an evolutionary consciousness shift that we should not take lightly. The problem is that it challenges our status quo of child rearing and educational institutions. One example is that these kids are primarily right brained and kinesthetic learners and have to try to learn in a left brained visual/audio based educational system.
Regardless of the controversy of what this condition is, significant questions arise as to how we are dealing with it. It’s unfortunate that we have become so dependent on drugs for treatment when there are so many proven, effective alternatives. We feel that the situation is reflective of the general level of poor health in this country (the U.S. ranks 37th in the world in health).
Before jumping on the drug band wagon, realize that many alternatives have been proven to be effective and safe in A.D.D./A.D.H.D. situations. In fact, most are not only theraputic but enhance the overall balance of body systems and general health of the individual. Explore a more holistic approach to bringing your child’s health back into balance. Realize that health is a triad of structural (spine, nervous system, organs, muscles, etc.), chemical (nutrition, medication, environmental toxins, etc.), and mental/emotional factors. Like a three legged table, each “leg” has to be in balance with the rest to remain stable. We can’t send subluxated, emotionally stressed, malnourished, sugared up kids to school and expect them to sit still and pay attention.
As to non-drug alternatives, here are some examples for you to consider and explore:
In regards to structural considerations, proper spinal alignment is essential. A major interference to the body’s regulation and control processes occurs with spinal misalignments and related effects on nerve function. These “subluxations” begin in early childhood from falls and spills and can be present without any obvious symptoms. Depok Chopra, M.D., in his book Quantum Healing, states that interference to the intelligence in the body leaves it “…undirected and chaotic”. This sounds like A.D.D./A.D.H.D. to me! Studies at Texas A & M have shown that chiropractic treatment was 20-40% more effective than the commonly used medication. And studies at Life University have shown normalization of abnormal brain wave activity after the child was adjusted. And, functional MRI studies done at the Univ. of California revealed increased brain efficiency with chiropractic.
In addition to chiropractic, Cranio-Sacral therapy has been shown to be effective. Adequate rest and exercise cannot be ignored in the overall health paradigm. Another new and progressive treatment is called Integrated Visual Learning, developed by Dr. Stephan Ingersol of the Excel Institute. He proposes that attention problems and a hyper-state of accessing information shows up as a result of developmental problems in visual learning due to physical problems or ill-timed introduction of educational material. Corrections of these problems improve reading and writing capabilities and have an effect on behavior.
In consideration of the chemical component, proper nutrition is essential. Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates. Reduce processed foods, white flour, food colorings, preservatives, and sugar. We have found Finegold-type diets to be effective in removing irritahnts that effect hyperactive behavior.
We need to look closely at the labels on those drinks our children are consuming. Most are loaded with high fructrose and corn syrup. Look for 100% juice. In addition, there is a growing trend toward the thought that artificial sweeteners like Aspartame (Nutrisweet, Equal, Spoonful) are thought by some experts to be toxic to the brain and nervous system. Food allergies and environmental toxicities need to be assessed. Supplementation can definitely help depleted conditions and fill in where mineral depleted soils are not providing adequate nutrition even in “good food”. Finally, naturopathic studies on the use of homeopathics revealed significant changes in A.D.H.D. children.
Here is an example of the effects of dietary changes on academic performance. In 1980-83, New York City schools instituted dietary reforms that resulted in moving from 11% below the mean national academic performance average to 5% above it!
The mental/emotional component also needs to be addressed when problems are assessed. Family and individual coaching, Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), etc. can be effective for family,school, or social issues. Most importantly, kids need your time as well as the “psychological vitamins” of praise, recognition, smiles, hugs, and other expressions of approval and encouragement. Creative imagery, breathing exercises, meditation, etc. can be helpful in the child taking control of their situation.
The reality is that the future of countless millions of children, not to mention the impact on society, hangs in the balance. There have been no controlled studies on the long term effects of psychostimulant usage. Are these children disordered or might they truly be gifted as proposed by the National Foundation For Gifted and Creative Children? In light of the “Indigo Kids” supposition, we may be numbing our children’s creativity and special talents thereby closing a window of opportunity to evolve to a more positive place as a species. Einstein, Edison, Newton, and Churchill would have been classified as attention deficit by today’s standards. How would the evolvement of our world been different had they been drugged to conform and had their creativity stifled in their “active little minds”?
We are not saying you are wrong for putting your child on medication. Obviously, there will be circumstances that warrent it. Just consider that your child may not be truly A.D.D./A.D.H.D. Maybe they are an Indigo or have a physical or chemical imbalance that can be delt with without drugs.
We, as a society, must not let politics and drug companies drive our decisions. We need to explore multifaceted alternative approaches within the triad model of health at school and at home. We need to support school systems continuing to adapt and evolve providing more interactive focused learning environments. And, we as adults must embrace new ways of thinking, expressing emotions, and parenting within this evolving situation.
These concepts apply to all children, not just those who have been labeled. Anyone can benefit from improved health. We believe the end result will be increased performance and enhanced creativity with major positive effects on our culture.
Contact our office if you would like a list of resources.