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Some parents just say 'whoa' to school-required medications (Stepford Children Update)
Christian Science Monitor ^ | June 14, 2004 | Kelly Hearn

Posted on 06/14/2004 9:04:03 PM PDT by Dan Evans

When Patricia Weathers's son Michael had problems in his first-grade class, a school psychologist told the New York mother he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and needed to be medicated with stimulants. If not, he would be sent to a special education facility near his Millbrook, N.Y., school. Confused and intimidated, Ms. Weathers says she consented to put Michael on Ritalin, a commonly used stimulant that doctors prescribe to decrease the symptoms of ADHD - restlessness, disorganization, hyperactivity.

But Michael exhibited negative effects from the drug, such as social withdrawal. Instead of spotting the side effects, Weathers says, school officials again pressured her back to the psychiatrist's office, where Michael's diagnosis was changed to social anxiety disorder and an antidepressant prescribed.

Finally, says Weathers, "I saw that the medicines were making Michael psychotic, so I stopped giving them to him." When she stopped the medicine, the school reported her to state child protective services for child abuse.

Though charges were dropped, the Weathers case has become a symbol of the simmering controversy surrounding attention deficit disorder/ADHD, treatment for it, and the subjective diagnostic tests some critics say has led to an overuse of stimulants in schools.

Though there is no official count of people claiming coercion, (Weathers says some 800 parents have logged complaints of similar coercion on her website www.ablechild.org), child abuse allegations appear to be infrequent, perhaps because states are moving to pass laws that to some degree limit what schools can say or do regarding ADHD and other behavioral disorders.

To date, according to activists who track the issue, seven states have laws prohibiting school personnel from recommending psychotropic drugs for children. Over the past few years, 46 bills in 28 states have either passed or are awaiting action.

Currently, one federal bill, the Child Safety Medication Act, prohibits schools from making medication a requirement of attendance and calls on the Government Accounting Office to track how often schools pressure parents to seek ADHD diagnoses. It passed the House in 2003 but is currently stalled in the Senate.

Yet even as courts and legislatures muddle through the question of offering protection to parents who choose not to medicate their children, controversy deepens over the use of stimulants like methylphenidate - the generic name for Ritalin - by children.

According to testimony given before Congress in 2000, ADHD diagnosis in children grew from 150,000 in 1970 to 6 million in 2000, representing 12 to 13 percent of US schoolchildren.

On the one hand, a recent National Institute of Mental Health study, published in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics, confirmed long-held assumptions that consistent use of stimulants mildly suppresses children's growth - at an average rate of about an inch over the course of two years, in addition to weight loss in some children.

At the same time, another part of the same study gave the use of medication a boost when it comes to the treatment of ADHD. The study showed that strict behavioral regimes, used without drugs, were not as successful as treatments involving stimulants. They suppressed ADHD symptoms in 34 percent of the children tracked over a two-year period, while medication worked in 56 percent of cases.

Yet if the study was reassuring to some who work with children, it was alarming to others.

"The study helps prove that the country is only hearing half the story about ADHD," says William Frankenberger, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, who has been studying ADHD for almost two decades. "If these medicines suppress growth, you have to ask what else they are doing that we can't measure."

Dr. Frankenberger says pharmaceutical companies pitch ADHD medications in part as a way to help children improve academic performance. While stimulants immediately increase focus (for children with or without ADHD) and often lead to short-term betterment of classroom performance, Frankenberger says his longitudinal research suggests that ADHD medications caused no boost in academic achievement over the long run.

In addition, the length of time a student uses the medication and the type of test given can cloud test results, says Marc Atkins, director of psychology training at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Atkins, who sometimes works as a paid consultant for Alza, the maker of a popular ADHD medication, calls the NIMH study "cause for some concern" and says it should prompt the medical community to reevaluate the ease with which stimulants are prescribed.

But Atkins - who agrees that schools should not be allowed to mandate medication - takes issue with laws that prevent school healthcare professionals from offering recommendations or a diagnosis to parents.

"To cut schools off from giving parents good information is not what you want," he says.

Frankenberger says one of his research projects examined the origin of initial referrals to psychologists to explore the possible presence of ADHD in children.

"In about 80 percent of the time, we found that it came from teachers," he says.

But overreliance on teacher observations and recommendations to drive use of medication can be problematic, say some experts. It may make judgment calls all the more complicated for parents.

Teachers and school administrators interviewed for this story generally agreed that for some students diagnosed with ADHD, stimulants make a remarkable difference, calming internal storms and bringing normalcy to scattered young lives.

But several also noted worrisome trends in diagnosis, noting, for example, that teachers in crowded, cash-strapped classrooms are more likely to steer a disruptive child toward medication.

Several observed another complicating factor: white middle class or upper middle class boys form the majority of diagnosed cases while minorities - whether due to stigma or lack of access - often go untreated.

(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: New York
KEYWORDS: adhd; education; mentalhealth; ritalin; schools
If you got a feeling of deja vu reading this, read about another almost identical case of a parent accused of child abuse for taking his son off drugs:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1149909/posts

Hollywood makes science fiction movies about this kind of insanity but when it happens in real life everyone just yawns.

1 posted on 06/14/2004 9:04:05 PM PDT by Dan Evans
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To: Dan Evans

BTTT


2 posted on 06/14/2004 9:13:05 PM PDT by jamaly
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To: Dan Evans
My son is ADD, and takes Stratera. Before that he was on Wellbutrin. In fact, he was part of a study conducted by Riley children's Hospital in Indianapolis for Stratera, which is produced locally by Eli Lilly.

I do think that there are too many children who are given Ritalin too quickly. My son's ADD is accompanied by a mild form of OCD. My doctor told us that Ritalin would make this more pronounced.

One interesting thing I have noticed—and I do not want to turn this into class warfare–is that most of the other parents and children I have met with ADD tend to come from lower income families, or from broken homes or disfunctional families.

I am curious how much of this is a nature/nurture thing.

I know that Stratera has been a Godsend for my son. He is an all together different person when he takes his medicine.

3 posted on 06/14/2004 9:19:06 PM PDT by Military family member (Proud Pacers fan...still)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: Dan Evans

Bump for later - It's almost midnight! < Yawn! >


5 posted on 06/14/2004 9:25:22 PM PDT by steplock (http://www.gohotsprings.com)
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To: Dan Evans

Shut up and take your Soma


6 posted on 06/14/2004 9:29:02 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy ("Despise not the jester. Often he is the only one speaking the truth")
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To: Dan Evans

A close psychologist friend cites many contributing factors to the ADHD phenomenom. Lack of exercise & physical activity, over-stimulation from TV & video games, poor diet, lack of discipline, lack of positive attention from parents (who often are too tired to raise kids), etc.

But the #1 reason for the explosion in the use of the diagnosis is SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY! Believe it or not, there are families who manage to get each child diagnosed, thereby qualifying each of them for a monthly government check!

It is truly epidemic! And insane! Of course, we the taxpayers are making all this possible.

In the case of teachers recommending drugs, I think it is a combination of laziness (a drugged student is easier to control) and improper training - even indoctrination- by the teaching beauracracy.


7 posted on 06/14/2004 9:51:14 PM PDT by calico44
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To: Dan Evans

Class action lawsuit


8 posted on 06/14/2004 10:17:13 PM PDT by Fenris6
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Papatom

Because public schools in the 1950s were almost uniformly not unionised, and because their number one mission at the time was to attempt to educate, as opposed to brainwash, the students.

That's probably why. Not that all schools/teachers succeeded, but they still managed an 85-88% literacy rate.

50 years of gov't intrusion into public schools has indeed done the damage intended.


10 posted on 06/14/2004 10:39:41 PM PDT by SAJ (Buy 2 NGG05 9.00 calls, Sell 5 NGG05 12.00 calls against, for $1.000 net credit OB. Mortal lock.)
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To: calico44

But the #1 reason for the explosion in the use of the diagnosis is SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY! Believe it or not, there are families who manage to get each child diagnosed, thereby qualifying each of them for a monthly government check!

I did not know that but it explains a lot. No wonder why so many of them are anxious to get the kid certified -- not only does he get immunity from expulsion, the family gets paid for it. It gets crazier and crazier.

11 posted on 06/14/2004 11:04:03 PM PDT by Dan Evans
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To: Papatom

Why don't I remember kids having this problem when I attended school in the 50's?

They had the same problems but instead of using Ritalin they used a big wooden board with holes in it. Worked for me.

12 posted on 06/14/2004 11:06:54 PM PDT by Dan Evans
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To: Dan Evans
One of my older brothers' first grade teacher tied him up with a jump rope in the classroom--that was in the 60's. My dad grew up in the 30's. He had to do 1st grade three times--low first twice and then finally he moved on to high first.

Today they shove a questionnaire in your face about your child's behavior, have a conference with you, and strongly urge you to take it to your child's doctor for a consultation. If you don't comply, then they threaten to stick your child in the dummy class. Of course, most school officials don't come right out and tell you they want your child on drugs but it's not too hard to figure out. Antsy little boys have existed for a long time. We took my son out of the public school system when they started to bully and badger our family.

13 posted on 06/15/2004 12:28:12 AM PDT by beaversmom (Michael Medved has the Greatest radio show on GOD's Green Earth)
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To: Papatom
Dr. John Rosemond author of "New Parent Power" places most of the blame on TV..... (didn't used to be TV, and we didn't have the problem). He says the flickering lights, and fast action (of any TV show - even children's shows) contribute to ADD......

He has a lot of no-nonsense common sense when it comes to raising children! He has lots of case reports of families that got rid of the TV, and their ADD child improved greatly.

14 posted on 06/15/2004 3:32:02 AM PDT by CharlotteVRWC
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To: Dan Evans
...a school psychologist told the New York mother he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and needed to be medicated with stimulants.

Shouldn't a decision like this be made in consult with a child's pediatrician and maybe some other specialists as well?

15 posted on 06/15/2004 3:41:20 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: SAJ
50 years of gov't intrusion into public schools has indeed done the damage intended

Actually, the damage began more than 100 years ago...

16 posted on 06/15/2004 3:57:32 AM PDT by Law
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To: Fenris6
Class action lawsuit

I like the idea, but who would be the defendant(s) in such a lawsuit? Presently psychiatry is recognized as a legitimate medical practice by the court system and governments are reluctant to give up sovereign immunity to permit large-scale suits against them.... Is there a way I can't see?

17 posted on 06/15/2004 4:02:18 AM PDT by Law
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To: Papatom
Why don't I remember kids having this problem when I attended school in the 50's?

One reason is that the 1950s was before psychiatrists replaced pastors as the primary extra-family source of behavioral correction for children. The 1950s was before Freud's dream of a "secular priesthood" was fully realized.

18 posted on 06/15/2004 4:05:18 AM PDT by Law
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To: beaversmom
Today they shove a questionnaire in your face about your child's behavior, have a conference with you, and strongly urge you to take it to your child's doctor for a consultation. If you don't comply, then they threaten to stick your child in the dummy class. Of course, most school officials don't come right out and tell you they want your child on drugs but it's not too hard to figure out.

Indeed. The problem isn't the kid; it's the socialist school system. Most parents recognize that other kid's schools have overwhelming problems, but they persist in believing the propaganda that their child's school is an enlightened exception to the rule. Of course, this belief is almost never correct, although it does, for a time, soothe the consciences of guilty parents...

We took my son out of the public school system when they started to bully and badger our family.

Good for you. I hope more Freepers will follow your example: There's nothing wrong with the government school system that a mass exodus won't cure.

19 posted on 06/15/2004 4:13:37 AM PDT by Law
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To: Dan Evans

This kind of stuff really does happen. Unfortunately, my family knows about this first hand. The teachers "diagnosed" my son in kindergarden and were backed up by the school psychologists. They told me that I had to medicate my son for school or be reported for neglect/abuse. The only good thing (after reading the fine print on the back of the school forms) was that we went thru an appeal process where the district had to pay 3 other independent doctors to examine my son. They ALL said he did NOT to be medicated and so that was that. If I had just "rolled over" and let them medicate my kid, God only knows where we would be today. He is now 17 and a good student with no discipline problems. Parents need to stand up and fight this insanity with everything they've got!


20 posted on 06/15/2004 4:15:16 AM PDT by Ragirl (Vote in '04 ! Those who sit on their hands end up with poop on them.)
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To: Law
More than 50 years ago, for certain. 100? Don't know about that. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the average American was at his **most** literate around 1915 (wish I could post that commentary, but I can't, sadly).

The 1950s were the years that the rate of decline in the ed system began to accelerate, when that b&st&rd Dewey's idiotic notions began to be accepted wholesale. The 1960s brought the start of increasing unionisation, and it's been straight down ever since, for the most part.

21 posted on 06/15/2004 6:21:21 AM PDT by SAJ (Buy 2 NGG05 9.00 calls, Sell 5 NGG05 12.00 calls against, for $1.000 net credit OB. Mortal lock.)
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To: SAJ
More than 50 years ago, for certain. 100? Don't know about that. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the average American was at his **most** literate around 1915

If correct, it would reflect the fact that the decline began when the average American of the time was educated, during the 1800s. In fact, that is when modern government school was invented, although, as you say, the baleful philosophy underlying government school didn't dominate thoroughly, even in the government schools, until beginning in the 1960s or so.

22 posted on 06/15/2004 6:40:22 AM PDT by Law
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To: CharlotteVRWC

He says the flickering lights, and fast action (of any TV show - even children's shows) contribute to ADD. I think the cause of most behavior problems is simply lack of socialization with adults. If you get rid of the TV the kid is more likely to interact with the parents. That's why home-schooled kids are much more congenial.


I once saw an interview with "Marrried With Children" actress Christina Applegate and I was impressed with how mature she seemed compared with the usual Hollywood brats. Then it occurred to me. She spent almost her entire childhood with adults. Either on the TV stage or with her tutor.

23 posted on 06/15/2004 11:07:56 AM PDT by Dan Evans
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