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People with autism can hear more than most – which can be a strength and a challenge

A noisy environment can be hell for a person with autism. On the plus side, they are more likely to have perfect pitch than a non-autistic person.

A group of friends are sitting in the garden chatting – only one person hears the ice cream van in the distance. That one person is autistic. He is also able to hear the buzzing of electricity in the walls and sometimes finds it overwhelming to be in a very noisy environment.

Our most recent work, published in Cognition, the international journal of cognitive science, suggests why that might be the case: people on the autistic spectrum can take in more sounds at any given moment compared with non-autistic people.

Over the past few years, there has been growing awareness that sensory experiences are different in autism. What is also becoming clear, however, is that different doesn’t mean worse. There are many reports of autistic people doing better than non-autistic people on visual and auditory tasks. For example, compared with non-autistic people, autistic individuals spotted more continuity errors in videos and are much more likely to have perfect pitch.

Do you have perfect pitch?

We suggest that the reason behind this is that autistic people have a higher perceptual capacity, which means that they are able to process more information at once. Having this extra processing space would be useful in some situations but problematic in others.

For example, when copying a complicated drawing you need to take in lots of information as efficiently as possible. On the other hand, if you don’t need much information to perform a task (such as when having a conversation with someone) then the extra capacity automatically processes other things in the room. This can distract you from what you are trying to do, or make you feel overwhelmed by lots of different sensory stimuli.

A sound advantage

To test out this idea, we asked a group of autistic and non-autistic adults to carry out two computer-based tasks.

The first was a listening-search task where having greater perceptual capacity would be useful and help you perform well. Participants were asked to listen to short bursts of animal sounds, played simultaneously, and figure out whether there was a dog’s bark or a lion’s roar in the group. At the same time, they also had to listen for the sound of a car, which was there in half the trials.

The autistic adults were much better than the non-autistic adults at picking out the car sound at the same time as doing the animal task correctly.

The second task involved listening to a recording of a group of people preparing for a party and focusing on the women’s conversation to be able to answer questions about it at the end. In this case, the task was easy and having extra capacity might leave you at risk of being more easily distracted by information that isn’t needed for the task.

To see if that was the case, an unexpected and unusual addition was made to the middle of the scene: a man walked in saying, “I’m a gorilla,” over and over again. As predicted, many more of the autistic participants (47 per cent) noticed the “gorilla man”, compared with 12 per cent of the non-autistic group.

So it seems that increased capacity for processing sounds in autism could be linked to both difficulties and enhanced auditory abilities that are found in the condition.

Changing perceptions

Understanding that differences in autistic attention might be due to this extra capacity, rather than an inability to filter out irrelevant information, can change the way we understand the condition and how we might intervene to help those who are struggling.

Our findings suggest that to reduce unwanted distraction, autistic people need to fill their extra capacity with information that won’t interfere with the task at hand. For example, it might be helpful to listen to music while reading. This challenges the common approach taken to simplify the classroom environment for autistic children, although care should still be taken to avoid a sensory overload.

While we must not downplay the challenges associated with autism, our study raises awareness of a more positive side to the condition. By promoting evidence of autistic strengths, we embrace diversity and undermine the traditional view that autism is only associated with deficits.

Understanding that differences in autistic attention might be due to this extra capacity, rather than an inability to filter out irrelevant information, can change the way we understand the condition and how we might intervene to help those who are struggling.

Our findings suggest that to reduce unwanted distraction, autistic people need to fill their extra capacity with information that won’t interfere with the task at hand. For example, it might be helpful to listen to music while reading. This challenges the common approach taken to simplify the classroom environment for autistic children, although care should still be taken to avoid a sensory overload.

While we must not downplay the challenges associated with autism, our study raises awareness of a more positive side to the condition. By promoting evidence of autistic strengths, we embrace diversity and undermine the traditional view that autism is only associated with deficits.

Source:independent.co.uk

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13 Reasons Why is an insult to anyone with mental health issues

You can’t remedy depression with ‘love’

13 Reasons Why, a Netflix original series based on the YA fiction novel by Jay Asher, details the events leading up to and following the suicide of 16-year-old Hannah Baker. It grossly trivialises mental health and romanticises suicide – and don’t tell me it doesn’t when her ‘suicide note’ comes in the form of god damn cassette tapes. Indie, right?

The show leaves you asking – whose story is this? Hannah’s? Clay’s? The dual narrative is spread so thin that it’s hard to sympathise with anyone. That aside, every character appears horribly selfish, overdramatic, and frankly unrealistic. It’s like its writer, Brian Yorkey, googled ‘Millenial trope’ and spat out a dozen whining brats. It turns into a ‘whodunnit’; a blame game where fingers are pointed and guilt is spread around a bunch of teenagers like a really, really shit version of The Secret History. Suicide isn’t caused by other people – it’s not murder.

The show even addresses this, but still its message is confused: ‘I cost a girl her life because I was afraid to love her’ Clay says – fundamentally fucked-up – to which Mr. Porter replies ‘You can’t love someone back to life’. True. This little exchange, however, ends with Clay saying, ‘You can try’. What kind of message is that? ‘We all killed Hannah Baker’ Tony tells Clay. No, you didn’t – she killed herself. That’s the point.

 

Suicide is caused by mental illness, not bullying; but is Hannah Baker portrayed as mentally ill? Everyone’s experience is different, but are there any symptoms of depression here? Where’s the numbing lethargy? Where’s her losing interest in her appearance? Where’s the self-harm? Speaking of which – Skye, the one character with scars, tells Clay ‘it’s what you do instead of killing yourself’. Where’s her recovery? What sort of message is this sending to the millions of young adults watching this show? Not everyone who commits suicides shows signs, granted. Almost all suicides are described as ‘shocking’. But is the word ‘depression’ ever uttered once in all 13 episodes?

It’s unrealistic. The mental health narrative is as pushed under the rug as ever and Hannah Baker is about as good a poster girl for the depressed as Kendall Jenner is for the oppressed. We never really tap into Hannah’s psyche: she’s just a narrator. The result is that she comes off as an over-dramatic snowflake. Yorkey’s way of addressing this seems to be making Hannah say ‘I’m not!’ whenever anyone accuses her of seeking attention or being a drama queen.

Give us a protagonist who physically can’t get out of bed; who ugly cries in the bath every night for months; who suffers with irrational thoughts of self-hatred. Just something – anything – to throw the focus on the day-to-day struggles of someone with a mental illness. A real-life Hannah Baker would not commit suicide – because Hannah Baker is not mentally ill. Or at least not the Hannah Baker we’re being shown.

Source:thetab.com

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder concept, vector with isolated silhouette of angry boy

Renowned Harvard Psychologist Says ADHD Is Largely A Fraud

Jerome Kagan is not only a tenured professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world; he is also considered one of the world’s best psychologists. In fact, his fellow academics ranked Kagan the 22nd most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. This ranking put the good professor ahead of Carl Jung (Yes – THAT Carl Jung), who was ranked 23rd.

So, if anyone has earned the right to critique one of the most diagnosed mental health conditions in existence, it’s Jerome Kagan. And critique the condition, he does.

See, Kagan doesn’t believe that ADHD is a real condition. That’s right, Kagan’s position is that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a complete hoax.  Needless to say, Kagan’s proclamation has ruffled a lot of feathers. Psychologists and other medical professionals have gone on the offensive, attempting to discredit Kagan’s statements.

“…(ADHD) is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million (ADHD-diagnosed) kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.” – Jerome Kagan, Psychologist and Professor at Harvard University

BUT, WHEN YOU’RE CONSIDERED A MOST IMPACTFUL PSYCHOLOGIST THAN CARL JUNG AND IVAN PAVLOV, DISCREDITING YOU IS A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO DO.

So, what’s behind this story?

The Problem of Money

Kagan is scathing in his criticism of the pharmaceutical industry. In Kagan’s view, the excessive amount of money circulating from the sale of prescription drugs is creating a number of problems.

First, physicians can financially benefit from promoting and prescribing certain medications. Of course, this can incentivize medical professionals to over-diagnose a condition in order to earn supplementary income. Some doctors earn in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars just for working with the pharmaceutical industry. In Kagan’s view – and in the view of most – this is both an immoral and corruptive practice.

Second, pharmaceutical companies have amassed a sizeable influence on the political process. “Big Pharma” spends billions of dollars each year lobbying politicians to get what they want. In Kagan’s view, this is contributing to the corruptive influences within Washington D.C. and elsewhere.

Finally, Kagan says that more money flows to psychologists, psychiatrists and others who conduct research on conditions such as ADHD – a result of over-diagnosis and over-prescription. So, they are certainly not exempt from Kagan’s criticism.

The Problem of Misdiagnosis and Over-diagnosis

According to Kagan, “If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be categorized as anxious or depressed. But if you take a close look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent.”

Kagan uses depression as an example here, but he says that misdiagnosis – and hence over-diagnosis – occurs across an entire spectrum of mental health conditions. In simple terms, not everyone who displays a symptom or behavior has a mental health problem. Especially children, who are a “bit” prone to unpredictability.

Misdiagnosis leads to over-diagnosis, which is – in Kegan’s view – a problem plaguing the mental health profession.Looking at the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, it is difficult to disagree. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.”

Kagan also makes the point that most children diagnosed with ADHD fall under one umbrella: “Who’s being diagnosed with ADHD? Children who aren’t doing well in school. It never happens to children who are doing well in school. So what about tutoring instead of teaching?”

The Answer

In Kagan’s estimation, a number of big problems exist across the entire fiend of psychology. While he is sharply critical of ADHD over-diagnosis, and for good reason, the problems Kagan speaks of spans the entire mental health field. As such, there are no simple answers.

But Kagan is adamant that mental health professionals must shift their approach to diagnosing ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. The answer? Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to begin making diagnoses similar to how most other doctors do: by looking at the causes, not just the symptoms. Again, especially with children, who often don’t have a great ability (or desire) to fully explain themselves.

 He is under no illusion that doing so will be easy. In fact, when confronted with recent criticism that he is implying mental illnesses are an invention of Big Pharma and others, Kagan goes on the offensive:

“There are mentally ill people who need help. A person who buys two cars in a single day and the next day is unable to get out of bed has a bipolar disorder…There are people who, either for prenatal or inherited reasons, have serious vulnerabilities in their central nervous system that predispose them to schizophrenia, bipolar disease, social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. We should distinguish these people…”

In other words, those responsible for administering brain-altering drugs to children need to search a little deeper. Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable proposition.

Source:powerofpositivity.com

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When a Woman Whispered How She ‘Can’t Stand Parents Who Can’t Control Their Kids’

I remember the day I finally got the answers I needed about my 4-year-old son’s behavior. April 1, 2016. That day I took him to have his evaluation done, thinking he would be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like his 9-year-old sister. As I gave his therapist all the information she needed, I saw a light turn on in her head. After doing a few tests of his response to touch, she turned to me and said, “He does not have ADHD. He has sensory processing disorder (SPD), and it looks like he might be on the autism spectrum.”author's son in car

My head was spinning. Surely I would have noticed if my son had these diagnoses, right? She explained to me how sensory disorders often look like symptoms of ADHD. My mind jumped back to the day I made the appointment. I was checking my 9-year-old out of school, my son and my 2-year-old in tow. My son started to cry and throw a fit while we stood in the bricked hallway of the school. The secretary came out of the office and instructed me to wait outside, since my child was being a disruption. I walked outside with my head down to wait.

After this three-hour evaluation and the diagnoses, I went home and straight to Google to research what sensory disorders are all about. Within 30 minutes, my son’s entire life made sense to me. All four years of it — the reason why he rarely slept, or why he likes to wears his Halloween spandex costume or long sleeve shirts. That day at the school made sense. The noises in the hallway bouncing off the bricks and making it sound distorted had hurt my son and caused him to have a meltdown. He changes his clothes a thousand times a day. It made sense! Finally, I knew how to help my child. I knew exactly what to watch for and what to expect.

I was relieved to have answers. I was also upset and confused because all this time I thought I was parenting “wrong.” “Maybe these people whispering about my parenting skills in public places were right,” I often thought. No, it had nothing to do with bad parenting — but everything to do with being unaware of something I couldn’t see.

On the Monday following that appointment, I had my own appointment for the OB/GYN. My husband couldn’t take off work, so I took my son and 2-year-old with me. I was confident in my newfound knowledge and had sensory items packed to try and make it easier. I sat down in a seat with another row of seats behind it connected at the back. My son had my phone watching YouTube with headphones in his ears to block out background noise. Then the phone froze. He could hear everyone around him and began to have a meltdown. I frantically rushed to get YouTube playing. When it did, his muscles relaxed. No major meltdown!

However, an older lady sitting behind me decided to “whisper” to her daughter, “Would you like to move? I can’t stand parents who can’t control their kids.”

It was loud enough for me to hear. I politely turn around and responded: ” Actually, I do have control of my kid. He has a sensory disorder and is autistic. Since the month of April is Autism awareness month, you might want to look into the statistics for both. Possibly educate yourself on what they consist of. One day you might be the person having to defend your grandchild against people’s hurtful words.”

The lady got quiet and moved with a look of embarrassment on her face. For the first time, I felt proud of myself and confident with the answers I needed for so long.

I can hold my head high and free my mind of any worry  I once had that I was a “bad” parent. I explain to people who make rude comments towards me or my child exactly the reason why my child is having a meltdown. I no longer feel embarrassed when I have to sit in the entrance of a store, swaddling my son, calming him from a meltdown because all the race car carts are gone and he doesn’t like the texture of the regular cart. As people walk in the store staring, I just let them stare. It makes no difference to me. I am parenting, and every child requires different parenting. Knowing is the most empowering tool a parent of a child with special needs can have. When all the pieces fit, life is easier.

Source:themighty.com

ADHD

If You Love Someone Who Has ADHD, Don’t Do These 20 Things

You wonder if everybody’s life is as chaotic as yours. Something’s not right.

Your child doesn’t act like the other children in the class. Homework assignments guarantee a night of fights, slammed doors, and tears shed. The teachers call you in for conferences weekly. Your husband gets fired again claiming all his bosses are jerks. You work overtime so your car isn’t repossessed. Your sister cancels every time you plan to meet for dinner. Your teenager is hanging out in the local piercing parlor. And your daughter can’t find her car keys whenever she’s walking out the door. Your relationships are constant conflicts.

You’ve considered splitting up, but you can’t afford to live on your own. You’ve thought of quitting your job, packing your bags, and running away. You’re tired all the time. You’re trapped, choking, and you cannot breathe.

Loving someone who has ADHD can make your life crazy if you don’t get a grip on it. The doctors prescribe medication. The therapists tell you what to do, but your home is as wild as a college frat house.

A person with ADHD can be hard to live with. The thought patterns and behaviors of a person with ADHD never go away. They are manageable, but that too, is a full-time challenge.

Without proper care, ADHD can lead to substance abuse, overeating, unemployment, toxic relationships, divorce, constant conflict, academic failure, insomnia, stress, anxiety and panic attacks. A person with ADHD has an active thought process of options, possibilities, and scenarios the average person cannot even imagine.

Eventually, reality bites. The rent is due, the electric bill is unpaid, and your checking account is overdrawn again. You’re exhausted from staying awake worrying all night. You want to run away, but your problems are like misspelled tattoos that stay with you wherever you go. There is hope. It doesn’t have to be that way. As a person with ADHD has to work through his challenges, you as his lover, parent, sibling or friend also have to learn coping skills to improve the situation. Don’t do these 20 things if you want to have a happier life together.

1. Don’t live in denial – Admit the truth.

Call the problem by its name: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder. Your life will become easier when you identify it, own it, talk about it, and stop running from it. Admitting that it exists is the first step to freedom. There is no reason to feel ashamed. Many of history’s greatest contributions have come from people with ADHD. Scientists, authors, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs have become successful because they have a creative vision that average people do not possess.

2. Don’t criticize – Judge favorably.

Realize that your loved one with ADHD is trying his hardest, even though it’s not good enough for your standards. Lighten up, go easy, and give them time. They will accomplish what they have to do, but not on the schedule you have in mind. Allow them time and space to accomplish their tasks. Influence them with love, not with criticism.

3. Don’t accept excuses – Encourage and inspire them to achieve their goals.

ADHD isn’t an excuse for an irresponsible lifestyle. It just means that what comes easy to you, may be difficult for them. It doesn’t mean that they can’t do something, it means that it’s harder for them. Simple tasks that you take for granted; such as opening mail, trashing junk mail, and placing your bills in a “to be paid” folder, feel like a climb up Mt. Everest to a person with ADHD. It doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t have it. Try to be encouraging, in spite of your doubts and disappointments. Point out the times when they suceeded.

4. Don’t be a coach – Be a cheerleader.

Stand on the sidelines; grab your pom-poms and start cheering. Words of encouragement have more power than insults and put-downs. Coaches are in-your-face critics. Their job is to point out the negative. Cheerleaders stand on the side, rooting for success, believing in their teams ability to achieve. Let your loved one with ADHD know that you are on the same team.

5. Don’t make unrealistic demands – Stay with the possible.

When a person with ADHD gets stressed out, an obsessive thought pattern of “what-ifs” begins. Screaming and shouting, “Just do it already. Stop making such a fuss,” will not break through compulsive thinking. Accept the fact that they may not be able to do what you want, when you want it, or how you want them to do it. If it’s something important, be specific.

6. Don’t give instructional lectures – Be respectful.

Lectures are not helpful if a person feels like they are being spoken to like a child whose baseball broke the neighbor’s window. If you have something to say, be sure to choose the right words at the right time. The timing of your conversations determines if you will be heard or ignored. Schedule a time to talk. Rehearse your speech so that it comes out as love, not control.

7. Don’t be impulsive – Practice patience.

Someone with ADHD is impulsive. If you are the rational thinker in the relationship, your ADHD loved one is depending on you  to be wise and patient. Two impulsive people reacting emotionally and regurgitating information at each other, does not make for a happy ending.

8. Don’t be a martyr – Call for backup.

Have a support team to help you through the struggles. You don’t have to manage everything alone. Call a friend, a therapist, or a loving relative. Find someone who just listens. If you don’t want advice or suggestions, a comforting shoulder to cry on can strengthen you and change your outlook

9. Don’t forget your goal – Prepare for a positive outcome.

Sometimes words come out that you later regret saying. They can’t be taken back. Hurtful words leave deep wounds. Keep your goals in mind. What would you like to accomplish? Ask yourself, if I say this will it lead to a negative or a positive outcome? It’s up to you. You determine the outcome. Go slow. Think before you speak.

10. Don’t feel guilty – Know that you are doing your best.

Feeling that your loved one is hard to love, or that you don’t like their behavior is a sad feeling to experience. If you’re a parent and are upset about your child’s behavior, guilt runs through your veins. It’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can. You’re in a tough situation and you aren’t always sure which is the best way to handle it. Be gentle with yourself.

11. Don’t try to control them – Control yourself.

Intimidating or threatening does not inspire change. Trying to control people is never effective. When you don’t know how to motivate your loved one, think about how you can change your approach. You can’t control other people; you can only control your words, thoughts, and reactions towards them.

12. Don’t lean in – Step back.

Intense emotions are negative emotions. Leaning in and pushing a person to perform isn’t the most effective way to reach the result you desire. When stress is high and you feel like screaming, back off. Stepping back gives you time to breathe, relax, and readjust your thoughts.

13. Don’t label them – Be compassionate.

Judgment is easy; compassion is hard work. Don’t box them in as a “forgetful, lazy, disorganized mess,” or “someone who will never succeed.” Labels create pre-determined expectations that last for years. People become what you see them as.

14. Don’t say “never” – Nothing stays the same.

When times are tough, it’s hard to remember that tough times don’t last forever. Things will get better. Believe it. “Never” is a word of hopelessness. Start saying, “not yet.” The only thing constant is change.

15. Don’t say “Just do it” – Understand that they can’t.

An ordinary thinker cannot understand how a person with ADD/ADHD can’t accomplish the simplest tasks such as paying bills, organizing papers, and putting their clothes away. These tasks may be easy for you, but remember, the person with ADHD also has a hard time understanding why they can’t pay a bill or manage their mail.

16. Don’t be afraid to help out – Offer a helping hand.

It’s important to teach your loved ones how to be responsibly and independently. But also remember, that there are times when it’s okay to offer assistance. Even Einstein had a helper. His wife cooked for him, cleaned up after him and did his laundry because his high-powered mind was too busy discovering the quantum workings of the universe to take time to put his dirty socks in the laundry bin.

17. Don’t have unrealistic expectations – List what you love about them.

Accept your loved ones as they are. Just like with any other relationship, you have to look for the good, and stay focused on it. Never lose sight of the awesome qualities of your ADD/ADHD loved one. If it’s your partner, remember that their fun-loving, impulsive personality is probably why you fell in love with them. Go back to the beginning. Love them again, as if you first met them. If it’s your child, remember the feeling of holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time.

18. Don’t neglect other family members – Spend time alone with them.

ADD/ADHD can take over your home environment, subliminally controlling everything and everyone in it. Spend time with other family members. They need you, too. Go to the movies or go get some ice cream with them. Remind them that they still exist for you. Hug them and hold onto them.

19. Don’t get mad – Pause for peace

Make peace in your home and your life your priority. The other lessons will soon fall into place if your home is a loving environment. Anger is easy. Staying quiet takes strength. Put your relationships before your feelings. You don’t have to veerbalize every comment that comes to mind. Place your ego on the side until your anger subsides.

Don’t ever accept abusive behavior of any type. There are certain relationships that are unhealthy, toxic, and need to end. Seek professional help.

20. Don’t forget to love yourself – Do something that makes you happy

ADHD relationships can suck the joy out of life. You realize that you haven’t laughed in a month. You forgot how to smile, and you can’t remember the last time you had fun. Make time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy. Have fun again, and do it often.

Let this little story inspire you:

After she received an ADHD diagnosis for her 7-year old son, a woman went to to the psychiatrist. Frustrated and distraught that she couldn’t handle her own child, she cried, “What more can I do? I’m doing everything I can. I don’t know how to handle my own child.” He looked at her and quietly answered, “Love him more.”

That wasn’t the answer she had hoped for. Through her tears, she pleaded for answers, “Love him more? I’m giving this child everything I can. I’m empty inside. I’ve got nothing left. How can I love him more?” “Try harder. Dig deeper. You can do it,” he answered.

When you love someone who has ADHD, they are a part of you. They live in your head and in your heart. You were chosen for this task. Love them more.

Source:lifehack

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LIFE LESSONS FROM PARENTING A CHILD WITH ODD AND ADHD BEHAVIOR

“DON’T TOUCH ME, YOU STUPID HEAD!” my 4-year-old son shrieked as I reached for him. We were about halfway through the service at a church we were visiting for the first time, and Wyatt was lying in the middle of the center aisle. “I HATE YOU!” he continued as he scrambled across the floor to get away, with me in hot pursuit. “YOU’RE THE WORST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD! I WISH YOU WEREN’T MY MOMMY!” he screamed as I caught him and proceeded to carry him up the aisle to the back of the church, nearly dropping him in the process.

Suddenly, a flying arm caught me across the face. He slapped me. I have no idea whether the faces that watched us were sympathetic or judgmental, because I was too humiliated to look up. All I knew was that I had made the mistake of trying to get my son to sit down, and this was the result.

I wish I could say that was the first — or the last — time that I’ve had to deal with one of Wyatt’s very public meltdowns, but that would be an outright lie. In fact, five years later we’re still dealing with the meltdowns, although we’re getting better at anticipating and managing them.

What is ODD?

Over the last five or six years Wyatt has been diagnosed with various behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders — everything from ADHD to ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). The diagnoses continue to change as he’s grows into new stages of development. While the names have changed, what hasn’t changed is the need for my husband and I to adjust and prepare for Wyatt’s encounters with new situations.

I have to admit that this parenting thing has been a lot harder than I anticipated. When I say a lot harder, I mean ridiculously so.

My husband and I had both been brought up in happy homes filled with love and laughter. Our parents had been strict but fair, and we had both been taught from a very young age to respect our elders. Our older siblings were raising their children using the same approach, and they didn’t seem to be running into any major problems. Unlike us.

Something as simple as not liking what I had made for supper could set Wyatt off, transforming him in seconds from my sweet little boy with the shy smile and twinkling eyes to an out-of-control terror who I barely recognized. It wasn’t uncommon for me to cry myself to sleep at night, physically and emotionally exhausted from dealing with a meltdown so violent that I needed to physically restrain him so that he couldn’t hurt himself, or me.

I would sit on the floor with Wyatt between my legs, my arms strategically wrapped around him so he couldn’t bite me or scratch me, one leg over his so he couldn’t kick me, the other leg braced against something so that he couldn’t knock me over as he struggled to get away. I’d talk quietly to him the entire time, telling him that he was safe and loved as he screamed how much he hated me and how he wished I weren’t his mother.

Eventually his rage would pass, and he’d go limp in my arms. His screams would turn to sobs that shook his tiny body, and his struggles to get away would turn to struggles to get closer. I’d sit there and rock him, smoothing his hair and kissing his forehead, reassuring him that I loved him and that everything was going to be OK, all the while holding back the tears of hopelessness and helplessness that threatened to overwhelm me.

 

Parenting techniques that didn’t work

Don’t get me wrong. I never figured being a parent would be easy, and I fully anticipated that there would be times when I would want to tear my hair out (can you say “teenage years”?), but nothing prepared me for a child who didn’t play by the rules. Even as a toddler, the traditional parenting strategies didn’t work.

If other people were having success with the same parenting strategies we were using then, I concluded, the problem had to reside with us. We had to be doing something wrong. So I read article after article after article on parenting and discipline in an attempt to figure out what we were doing wrong. But everything I read said the same thing: if we used the techniques properly and were consistent and loving in their application, our son would learn what was expected of him.

What I have come to realize is that parenting articles are all written from the standpoint that the prescribed techniques will eventually work. Because of this, they don’t tell you when to give up and move on to something else, so certainly not what that something else would look like. So how long do you keep distracting and redirecting a toddler from the same thing before you give up? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months?

When Wyatt was just learning to walk, he became fascinated by an antique cabinet with glass doors that we had in our living room, where he spent the most time. He paid no attention to the books and CDs that filled the cabinet, only to the pretty doors that made a fun sound when he banged on them. At first we patiently told him “no” and redirected his attention to a favorite toy or book, but he would head straight back to the cabinet the first chance he got. As the days passed we became sterner with our “no,” moving from patient to scolding. Still nothing changed.

“Slap his hand!” our parents told us when we asked for their advice. Scared that he would break the glass and get seriously hurt, we started accompanying our “no” with a light slap on the hand, just hard enough to startle him, but that didn’t deter him either. We placed a cedar chest in front of the cabinet so that he couldn’t get to the doors, but it didn’t stop him from trying. After a few weeks we gave up and moved the cabinet into one of the bedrooms, but we had to remember to keep the door to the room closed or he would be right back at it. Once the cabinet was gone, Wyatt moved on to pulling all the books out of a little bookcase in the hall, and the bookcase soon joined the cabinet in the bedroom.

When Wyatt got a little older we started removing privileges, but he didn’t care. I remember one particular incident, when he was about 3 years old. I was vacuuming not too far from where he was watching TV when he came over and dumped a bunch of toys on the floor in front of me. I scolded him and told him to pick the toys up. He stood there silent, not moving. I told him that he needed to pick them up or he would lose the TV until he did. Without saying a word he walked over to the TV, turned it off, and then went to his room, closing his door behind him.

I stood there for a few minutes, trying to figure out how to respond to the fact that my 3-year-old had just removed all control of the situation from my hands. I left the toys where they were, figuring Wyatt would come back out in a few minutes and ask to watch TV. I anticipated an angry response and mentally braced myself. Except, the anger never came. Instead, when Wyatt reappeared about an hour later, he casually wandered over to the toys, picked them all up, and then proceeded to turn on the TV. As much as I wanted to get mad at him, I couldn’t. I had established the consequence — you lose the TV until you pick up your toys — and that’s what he had done. Being bested by a 3-year-old didn’t exactly build my confidence in my parenting abilities.

We certainly didn’t have any more luck with timeout, which is a little more involved than removing privileges — but still not rocket science. According to the experts, follow the formula and you’re good to go. Have a designated timeout spot? Check. Limit time to one minute for each year of the child’s age? Check. Ensure child understands what is expected of him and the consequences for not cooperating? Check. Return child to designated spot if he moves, and reset timer? Check. I would reset the timer until the sweat was pouring off my face. I returned my 4-year-old to his timeout spot for the 10th, 20th, and 30th time.

We tried just as many positive reinforcement strategies to encourage good behavior. I spent hours creating charts and a small fortune on stickers and rewards. We looked for any opportunity to praise him for doing something well, and we rewarded his behavior with stickers. But nothing worked for more than a day or two, not even a sleepover at Grandma’s, a movie with Mommy, or a bike ride with Daddy.

When desperation leads to re-examination

When Wyatt started kindergarten, we were desperate. Nothing we tried worked, and the school’s experience mirrored our own. Smart, sweet, and wickedly funny, everyone wanted to be Wyatt’s friend. Kids ran to greet him as soon as he walked into school in the morning. Teachers and staff members ruffled his hair as they passed him in the hall and went out of their way to share stories with me about something funny he had done or said to them.

At the same time, his behavior was so problematic that he spent more time out of class than in it. One minute he’d be playing nicely with a friend, the next minute his friend was crying because Wyatt had hit him. He adored his teacher but often flat-out refused to do anything he said. His lack of respect for authority knew no limits, to the point that one day he stood on the principal’s desk and refused to get down. He was so wildly hyper and unpredictable that the school had to send an extra staff member on class trips just to keep an eye on him. If no one was available, he couldn’t go.

I switched from reading parenting articles to parenting books. I consumed Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic and then quickly moved on to Ross Greene’s The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. Both books were instrumental in prompting us to re-examine our views on parenting and discipline. But Greene said something that really struck home.

Ross Greene who is a well-respected child psychologist has a theory that “kids do well if they can.” This theory made us totally rethink Wyatt’s misbehavior. According to Green, most children want to be good and to please the adults in their lives. After all, being in trouble all the time is no fun.

We knew that Wyatt understood the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. He could tell you what was expected of him in any given situation and seemed to have every intention of doing exactly that, but for whatever reason he often ended up doing the opposite. In the throes of a meltdown, his defiance and aggression overshadowed his true nature, which was all sweetness and light. Once his anger was gone, however, he was genuinely heartbroken at the things he’d done and said in the heat of the moment. We realized that for him, it wasn’t a matter of “won’t” but of “can’t.”

Some of our reactions were essentially punishing him for not being able to do something that he lacked the skills to do. This caused him to respond to situations in the same way a child much younger than him would because that was the level where his skills stopped developing. It’s like handing a book to a child who has never been taught to read and then punishing her for not being able to read the book. Just like some kids need help with reading or math, Wyatt needed help. We’ve learned that Wyatt needs to be taught how to deal with situations that upset him and cause him to act out.

New discipline strategy from the experts

So we tried a new way of disciplining our son. It meant changing how we as parents react to Wyatt’s behavior. This nontraditional style of parenting doesn’t come naturally to most people, and it didn’t come naturally to us. It required us to abandon the age-old notion that children who misbehave need to be “punished” — with timeout and consequences — in order for them to learn. My husband and I made a conscious decision to shift our focus from disciplining Wyatt for his behavior to figuring out what was causing it.

Because he was still so young and was rarely able to explain what was upsetting him, we worked closely with his school to identify what kinds of situations seemed to trigger his behavior and what skills he was missing to be able to manage those situations and the intense feelings they created in him.

We discovered, for example, that Wyatt became frustrated extremely easily. If the situation wasn’t resolved immediately, his frustration would fester until it erupted in anger, sometimes hours later. Wyatt didn’t hit a friend seemingly out of the blue because he was mean; he hit because he didn’t know how to deal with his escalated frustration in a productive way.

With this new knowledge in hand, our goal became to help Wyatt develop the skills he needed to respond appropriately in any given situation. In the interim we moved from trying to control his behavior with rewards and consequences to trying to reduce the likelihood of unwanted behavior by evaluating every situation for its potential to cause problems for him.

That’s not to say that Wyatt is free to do whatever he likes without fear of repercussions until then. Believe me, this approach is no get-out-of-jail-free card. If, for example, he at his little brother and calls him names, he needs to apologize to him. If he throws things all around the living room, the mess stays there until he’s calm enough to clean it up. While Wyatt doesn’t get in trouble for these things, he still has to take responsibility for his actions and make amends for anything he has said or done.

We had a veritable laundry list of things we needed to consider, everything from Christmas dinner at my parents’ house to school trips. We asked ourselves: had he been there before? Would the activity be structured or unstructured? How many people would there be?

We could be counted on to arrive late, leave early, or call with our regrets at the last minute because Wyatt was having a bad day, and we often turned down invitations that we felt would be too much for him to handle. The word spontaneity ceased to exist in our vocabulary.

Nontraditional, not lazy

The nontraditional style of parenting made us look to others like lazy or negligent parents who couldn’t be bothered to discipline our child. That wasn’t much of a change, though, since many people already assumed we were ineffectual parents. We dealt with the inevitable comments from friends and family members who didn’t understand our response to Wyatt’s behavior, especially in the beginning.

Grandparents informed us that they had no problems with him when he was with them, so he must be able to control himself. His aunts and uncles said things like “So, tell me again why you’re not punishing him right now?” And elderly relatives watched disapprovingly as we comforted Wyatt after an incident instead of punishing him.

A few weeks ago, on the way to a doctor’s appointment, Wyatt started yelling, screaming, calling me names, and throwing things around the van. Because we were on the highway, it was difficult for me to pull over. I tried to calm him, but the closer we got to our destination, the more upset he got. When he threw a shoe and hit the back of my headrest, I yelled at him to stop before he caused an accident. My calming words hadn’t been able to reach him, but my yell managed to jolt him out of his meltdown. “Mommy,” he began to sob from the back of the van, “I need you. I need you, Mommy!”

As luck would have it, there was a rest stop ahead where I could pull off the highway. I climbed in beside him and held him until he stopped crying. Once he was calm enough, I started to ask him questions to see if I could figure out what had set him off. What initially appeared to be frustration at not being able to play with a friend turned out to be anxiety about the doctor’s appointment. Together we came up with a plan that addressed his worries, and suddenly the crisis was over. By the time I pulled back out onto the highway, he was laughing and telling me a joke.

While Wyatt’s behavior has improved over the years, he still has a long way to go. Truth be told, the biggest change has been in our relationship with him.

Under the old approach, we constantly raged at Wyatt and punished him for his behavior. As a result, he turned into a sad little boy who felt he could never do anything right and who had no one on his side. His laughter and his smiles became increasingly rare. That’s no longer the case. Gradually he stopped worrying about us getting mad at him and instead began to see us as a safe place to go for help when he starts to spiral out of control.

If I’ve learned anything from our struggles over the years it’s that being a parent is just as much about learning lessons as it is about teaching them. Looking back at how far we’ve come as a family, I’m pretty sure we’re not failing; I think we’re going to pass this test.

Source:greatschools.org

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Should I Expose My Oversensitive Child to the Things That Upset Her?

My preschooler has sensory processing issues. Is it better to expose her to the things that upset her or try to avoid them?

In general, I recommend that families consider what’s bothering their preschooler. Are these things that need to be done?

For example, if wearing a jacket really bothers your child and you live in a place that has cold winters, then you’ll need to find a way to get her to be more comfortable with wearing a coat.

But if she doesn’t like loud noises and flashing lights, then maybe it makes sense to avoid the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. In other words, it’s important to pick your battles.

Keep in mind that how parents act and react can affect their child’s behavior. Here’s an example: If a parent rushes to clean her child’s hands every time they get even a little dirty, the child may have a harder time learning how to tolerate dirty hands.

For many parents, it’s hard to know when and how to intervene without being overprotective.

It’s also important to remember that your child may need help learning to tolerate different sensations. One way to help is to slowly get her used to the thing that bothers her. This is sometimes called “desensitizing.”

It may start with having your child hold her winter coat. Then put just one arm in. Give praise with each step and allow your child time to get more comfortable. Eventually she may be able to put the whole coat on without too much protest.

Depending how severe your child’s issues are, you may need a therapist to help her work on this. Pushing too much too soon could add to her anxiety and make it harder to make progress. For that reason, I recommend talking with her doctor about your concerns.

I also want to mention one tricky thing about sensory processing issues. This phrase—sensory processing issues—can mean different things to different people.

Some professionals may use official-sounding terms to describe a child who is oversensitive to things. For example, some occupational therapists may describe a child as having “sensory integration disorder” or “sensory processing disorder.”

But there’s no medically recognized diagnosis that describes sensory processing issues as its own disorder. Many doctors and psychologists consider them symptoms of something else.

Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): One of the symptoms of ASD is that a child may avoid certain smells, tastes or textures.
  • Anxiety disorders: These can cause a child to be oversensitive to certain things. For example, kids with anxiety may get very upset if they hear a leaf blower outside because they fear that something scary is coming to get them.
  • ADHD: Some kids with ADHD are very active and like jumping on trampolines or crashing into walls. Those behaviors could seem like sensory-seeking activities.

Being extremely sensitive can also be part of typical child development. For example, many preschoolers hate the way jeans feel. They might prefer to wear soft leggings instead.

I’m mentioning all of this because kids can be oversensitive for many reasons. So it can be hard to know whether it’s better to expose your child to things that bother her or to avoid them to keep her comfortable.

This is why it’s so important to talk with your child’s doctor. Together you can come up with a comprehensive plan to help your child with sensory processing issues.

Source:understood.org

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10-Year-Old With Autism And ADHD Sings Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ In School Choir And It’s Beautiful

A 10-year-old girl with autism and ADHD sung an incredible rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, which has been heard by more than one million people.

Kaylee Rodgers, from Co Down, Ireland, was the lead singer in the choir performance at Killard House Special School.

The clip was recorded as part of their Christmas show and was posted online by a fellow parent at the school, whose son was also in the choir.

“Blake singing with his school choir,” mum Nichola Martin wrote. “What an amazing lead singer.”

The Facebook video was viewed 1.6 million times within five days of being posted on 18 December.

“It was really amazing how many views I got,” 10-year-old Kaylee told ITV News. “I just loved doing it.”

Her headteacher, Colin Millar, said singing helps Kaylee open up.

“She’d be a very quiet little girl, but when she sings, she just opens up,” he told BBC Newsbeat.

“She gets so much confidence from the singing. All my kids have talents, as well as barriers, and this is hers.”

Commenting on the Facebook video, one person wrote: “The fantastic thing about this video is that it’s not just good because she’s 10. And it’s not just good because she’s dealing with autism and ADHD.

“It’s good because it’s good, really good.”

Another wrote: “This is faultless. She is incredible.”

Source:huffingtonpost

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4 FACTS ABOUT ADHD THAT TEACHERS & DOCTORS NEVER TELL PARENTS

Putting a child in a classroom for 8 hours a day, for more than a decade, and expecting them to listen while remaining ‘obedient’ is very unrealistic. From day one we are taught that this is the only path to success and we are shown the consequences of not paying attention. It’s important to recognize that it’s perfectly normal for children to struggle with paying attention to something that they are not even remotely interested in; this doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder and it doesn’t mean they require (potentially quite harmful) prescription medications.

It’s Okay If Your Child Struggles With Attention – This Does’t Mean They Have A Disorder

Many doctors and teachers are already aware of this, but I would like to reiterate the point — just because your child struggles with paying attention in school or sitting still in the classroom does not mean there is an underlying disorder to blame. It’s perfectly natural for your child to want to be active and to want to focus on things which actually interest them. Sure, low grades might come as a result of not paying attention, but it is possible for a 2.0 student to know more than a 4.0 student; grades don’t necessarily equate with intelligence. In many cases, they reflect an ability to follow rules and memorize information — both important skills, but perhaps less important than critical thinking and creativity.  Some students may have a better ability to buckle down, pay attention, and do their work, while other, equally as intelligent students, may struggle with this model. This, again, is perfectly normal, and could actually be a marker of something really positive. If your child is being held back and being denied even the possibility of entering a gifted program based on the fact that they have attention issues, then there is problem.

New data from the National Center for Learning Disabilities shows that only 1 percent of students who receive services for their apparent learning disabilities (some of which are completely and unquestionably valid) are enrolled in gifted or talented programs. The report concluded that “students with learning and attention issues are shut out of gifted and AP programs, held back in grade level and suspended from school at higher rates than other students.” (source)

Disorder Or Creativity?

The last point in the above paragraph is pretty disturbing, particularly given the fact that recent work in cognitive neuroscience shows us that both those with an ADHD diagnosis, and creative thinkers, have difficulty in suppressing brain activity that comes from the  “Imagination Network.” There are no school assessments to evaluate creativity and imagination; these are admittedly difficult to measure and, accordingly, receive very little attention in the education system. Yet a lot of research is pointing to the fact that people who show characteristics of ADHD are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement compared to those who don’t show these characteristics.

“By automatically treating ADHD characteristics as a disability– as we so often do in an educational context– we are unnecessarily letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks.” – Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania (source)

While brain scans of people diagnosed with ADHD do show structural differences, it is a scary reality that a large portion of ADHD diagnoses are derived from the observations teachers make in school. Too often, children are diagnosed based on perceived behaviour alone, and then encouraged to take medication right away. These children are not actually tested or scanned; they and their parents are simply told that they have ADHD.

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.” – Stanley Kubrick

Did They Tell You This About The Pharmaceutical Industry?

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The quote to your left comes from Harvard Medical professor and the former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell. She joins a long and growing list of some very ‘credible’ people within the medical profession who are trying to tell the world something important. She has said on several occasions that it is no longer possible to believe much of the published research, or even to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. (source)

Another great example is Dr. Richard Horton, who is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, which is considered to be one of the top ranked medical journals in the world. He said that “the case against science is straightforward, much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. . . . Science has taken a turn towards darkness.”  (source)

The reason why these professionals are saying such things is because, as Dr. Angell puts it, “the pharmaceutical industry likes to depict itself as a research-based industry, as the source of innovative drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is their incredible PR and their nerve.”

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” – Arnold Seymour Relman, Harvard Professor of Medicine

The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase; it went from 7.8 percent in 2003 all the way up to 11.0 percent in 2011. According to a recent analysis, ADHD in children has surged by 43 percent since 2003. (source)

The quotes above aren’t just opinions, clearly these few (out of many) examples are from people who know a thing or two about the industry, and it is troublesome to think that people still believe pharmaceutical corruption and manipulation of scientific literature are conspiracy theories.

The most recent real world example of this comes from a few months ago, when an independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil is not safe for teenagers — all after the fact that a large amount of literature had previously suggested this. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline (also maker of the Gardasil Vaccine), found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers. The study came from John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Ioannidis is also the author of the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” In the report, he stated that most current published research findings are false. And this was more than 10 years ago.

ADHD is classified as a mental disorder, which is interesting because the definition of these types of disorders in particular have been shown to be heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated financial ties between the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. They found that, of the 170 DSM panel members, 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on ‘mood disorders’ and ‘schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders’ had financial ties to drug companies. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders. In the next edition of the manual, it’s the same thing.

“The DSM appears to be more a political document than a scientific one. Each diagnostic criteria in the DSM is not based on medical science. No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSMN. It relies on judgements from practitioners who rely on the manual.” – Lisa Cosgrove, PhD, Professor of Counselling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston

The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.” – Dr. Irwin Savodnik, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles (source)

These are definitely some facts to take into consideration when it comes to dealing with your child’s ADHD diagnosis. It’s a ‘disease’ — one which I was also diagnosed with — that I personally don’t even think is real. I think it was made up strictly for the purpose of making money.

There Are Other Methods To Help Your Child Focus & Improve Your Child’s Ability To Pay Attention

It’s becoming clear that we need a new approach to ADHD. Apart from examining the truth behind that label, as I hope I have done in the above paragraphs, it’s important to note that there does not appear to be much room in our school system for children who do not fit the ‘normal’ mould of the majority. The fact that we basically point a finger at them and label them does not really help anything. As much as we’ve been marketed to believe that medication can help solve the problem, I really believe they only worsen it. Many of these medications seem to dull the emotions and energy of the children taking them, ultimately making for a less positive and rich life experience.

One great way to improve your child’s ability to focus is to change their diet. It’s a shame that hardly any research has been published examining the relationship between mental ‘disabilities’  and diet, since many medical professionals strongly believe there is a direct link between them. Some studies have, indeed, emerged which show a link between a gluten/casein free diet and improvement in autistic symptoms, and some parents have already seen the benefits of implementing this research. (source)

The Mayo Clinic claims that certain food preservatives and colourings could increase hyperactive behaviour in some children. It would be best to avoid these, regardless of whether they are linked to ADHD or not.

It has also been suggested that EEG biofeedback (electroencephalographic) could help. It’s a type of neurotherapy that measures brainwaves. You can read more about that here.

In 2003, a study published in the journal Adolescence looked at how regular massages for 20 minutes twice a week could improve behaviour in the classroom. This is interesting because studies have also suggested that tai chi and yoga may also help improve ADHD symptoms. According to the studies, children with ADHD that practiced tai chi became less anxious or hyperactive. (source)

So, one thing you could try is observing what your child is eating. You can limit their intake of harmful, hormone disrupting, disease causing foods like sugar, limit their exposure to pesticides, and encourage their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods (rather than processed foods).

When it comes down to it, developing methods for your child to pay attention to something they find boring and/or useless is a difficult task, and for parents who struggle with this, it’s important to remember that most likely your child is perfectly normal. It will help to choose to look at it in a positive light.

The fact that children are forced into these institutions, told how the world works, made to follow certain rules, and pressured to complete education out of fear of not having a job, is a truly unfortunate reality of today’s world. It is not the best environment for a child. Perhaps things will change in the future, but right now it seems children are encouraged to complete education out of fear, out of necessity, and out of the mentality that “this is just the way the world is.”

“When we can’t say ‘No,’ we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die. We begin to live our lives according to the forceful should of others, rather than the whispered, passionate want of our own hearts. We let everyone else tell us what story to live and we cease to be the author of our own lives. We lose our voice — we lose the desire planted in our souls and the very unique way in which we might live out that desire in the world. We get used by the world instead of being useful in the world.” – Dr. Kelly M. Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist, Ph.D. in clinical psychology (source)

Perhaps sitting down and talking to your child, letting them know that there is nothing wrong with them and that they don’t have a ‘disorder’ is a good start, at least for those who have already been labeled. Again, just because one person struggles with paying attention does not mean they have a disorder. If the information above is any indication, it could actually mean the opposite.

Having your child even believe in that type of label could be harmful. Given the recent developments in neuroplasticity and parapsychology, it has become clear that how a person thinks alone can change their biology.

Speaking with educators and finding a differentiated type of instruction more tailored to your child’s needs and interests could also be a solution. One of the biggest solutions, in my opinion, is not accepting labels for your children in the first place.

This is a big problem in modern day education, and solutions are limited. The issue here really seems to be the environment the children are surrounded by, not the children themselves.

Another thing parents could address are the feelings of the child. Part of growing up is learning to handle our emotions and tackle whatever challenges life throws at us, but in school we are only taught content, and that is all we seem to focus on. Humans are made up of more than just bits of learned information; we all perceive a certain way and if emotions and thoughts are not openly discussed and dealt with, it can create problems in other areas.

“I don’t know about you, but in my adult life, I have never had to use geometry once… yet I experience emotions and challenges every day. If school is designed to prepare you for life… why not teach actual life skills?” – Elina St. Onge

 

Source:collective-evolution.com

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ALMOST NO CHILDREN IN FRANCE ARE MEDICATED FOR ADHD : HERE’S HOW THEY DEFINE & TREAT IT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11% of American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as of 2011. However, if you ask the American Psychiatric Association (APA), they maintain that even though only 5% of American children suffer from the disorder, the diagnosis is actually given to around 15% of American children. This number has been steadily rising, jumping from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007.

Big Pharma has played a significant role in manufacturing the ADHD epidemic in the U.S., convincing parents and doctors that ADHD is a common problem amongst children and one that should be medicated. However, many countries disagree with the American stance on ADHD, so much so that they have entirely different structures for defining, diagnosing, and treating it. For example, the percentage of children in France that have been diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than 0.5%. This is largely because French doctors don’t consider ADHD a biological disorder with biological causes, but rather a medical condition caused by psycho-social and situational factors.

Why France Defines ADHD Differently

French child psychiatrists use a different system than American psychiatrists to classify emotional problems in childhood. Instead of using the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the French use an alternative classification system produced by the French Federation of Psychiatry called Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent(CFTMEA). Not only does this significantly differ from the APA’s system, but it was actually created with the intention to “offer French child psychiatrists an alternative to DSM-III” because it didn’t complement French psychiatric practices. The CFTMEA encourages psychiatrists to identify the underlying issues that cause a child’s symptoms and to address them using a psychopathological approach.

France defines ADHD as a sociological disorder that’s caused by a set of social situations, whereas the U.S. sees ADHD as a neurological disorder whose symptoms are the result of biological disfunction or a chemical imbalance in the brain. France’s definition of ADHD drastically differs from that of the U.S., which is in part because the pharmaceutical industry helped define ADHD in the U.S. (you can read more about that here). France’s treatment methods, therefore, also greatly differ from those practiced in the U.S.

Treatment Methods for ADHD Used in France

Once a French psychiatrist diagnoses their patient with ADHD, they hone in on the behavioural problems by searching for the underlying causes. Psychiatrists will study the child’s distress and compare it to their social situations. France views ADHD as a social context problem; therefore, ADHD is often treated with psychotherapy or even family counselling. Very rarely do French psychiatrists prescribe medications to treat ADHD, as it’s usually rendered unnecessary after taking a more holistic approach.

It’s important to note that French psychiatrists also consider a patient’s diet when searching for the causes of behavioural symptoms associated with ADHD. Poor eating habits such as consuming foods with artificial colours or flavourings, preservatives, sugars, and/or allergens may worsen a child’s behaviour. This isn’t difficult to imagine; even as adults we can feel the effects certain foods have on our mood, energy levels, and thought processes.

Why There Are Fewer ADHD Cases in France Than the U.S.

A study conducted in 2011 stated that the amount of youth in France with ADHD may be as low as 3.5% — a far cry from the 11 to 15% estimate in the United States. Family therapist and author of A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic Dr. Marilyn Wedge suggests that this may be as a result of the cultural differences between the U.S. and France in regards to raising children. According to Wedge, French parents will often impose more structured lifestyles onto their children, such as enforcing strict meal times and using the “cry it out” method with babies and toddlers. Children are taught self-discipline at a young age, which is why Wedge feels they don’t need to be medicated for behavioural issues.

Unfortunately, spanking is not considered child abuse in France, so this practice is used fairly often to encourage discipline. In March 2015, the Council of Europe, an international human rights organization, faulted France over the country’s lack of legislation regarding corporal punishment of children. As The New York Times explained, “Child abuse is illegal in France and is punished with long prison sentences, but it is not uncommon for French parents to slap or spank children, or for the French courts to view such actions as acceptable under a customary ‘right to discipline.’ “

As Dr. Wedge points out (although neither she nor Collective Evolution support spanking or any other form of child abuse), this simply adds to the discipline they’re encouraged to practice throughout their childhood (source).While Wedge makes some interesting points regarding discipline, I don’t think that’s the underlying reason why most French children don’t need to be medicated for ADHD. Rather, because ADHD is largely a behavioural issue, it rarely requires pharmacological intervention. I believe that these treatment methods are successful in France not because of their parenting culture, but rather as a result of their holistic approach in considering diet and behavioural and social context.

I believe France does not have an issue with over-diagnosing ADHD in the same way the U.S. does because pharmaceutical companies have not targeted them as heavily. Pharmaceutical companies play a substantial role in defining ADHD and deciding treatment methods in the U.S. For example, doctors and researchers in the U.S. have been paid to overstate the dangers of ADHD and the benefits of taking their drugs and understate the negative side effects.

It’s easy for people to believe this misguided information when it’s affiliated with well-known universities like Harvard and Johns Hopkins. Many people don’t even realize that these studies are funded by the very companies that profit from the drugs’ sale because that relationship is hidden in small print (source). These drugs can have significant side effects and are actually considered to be within the same class as morphine and oxycodone due to their high risk of abuse and addiction. You can’t just blame all doctors, either; many of them genuinely believe they’re helping these children because of the information they’ve been given in these studies and by Big Pharma.

Another reason the U.S. has substantially higher rates of ADHD amongst children than France is because of the ADHD drug advertisements that run in the U.S. Big Pharma creates ads for ADHD drugs sold in the U.S. that are specifically targeted at parents, describing how these drugs can improve test scores and behaviour at home, among other false claims.

One of the most controversial ones was a 2009 ad for Intuniv, Shire’s A.D.H.D. treatment, which included a child in a monster costume taking off his terrifying mask to reveal his calm, smiling self with a text reading, “There’s a great kid in there.” The FDA has stepped in multiple times, sending pharmaceutical companies warning letters or even forcing them to take down their ads because they are false, misleading, and/or exaggerate the effects of their drugs (source). This type of propaganda doesn’t take place in France, at least not on the same scale as the in U.S., largely because it doesn’t coincide with their ADHD diagnosis framework. You can read more about this topic in another article I wrote here.

How to Use This Information to More Effectively Treat ADHD

France’s CFTMEA, definition for ADHD, and holistic approach to treating this disorder provide an excellent example of how we should be addressing ADHD patients, especially children. Instead of getting to the root of these children’s “attention deficits” like French psychiatrists do, American health practitioners typically assume ADHD is a medical condition that can only be fixed with medication. This is not only unethical, but also clearly damaging to a child’s self esteem. Many of these kids could simply be uninterested in the subject matter, suffering from some sort of emotional trauma, or even have heightened creativity and energy! You can’t just blame all doctors in the U.S., either; many of them genuinely believe they’re helping these children because of the information they’ve been given in these studies and by Big Pharma.

However, many scientists in the U.S. have suggested alternatives to medicine to treat ADHD and many of them don’t even recognize ADHD as a disorder (read our article on why ADHD may not be real here). Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report Daniel J. Carlat, M.D, criticized the DSM, stating, “In psychiatry, many diseases are treated equally well with medication or therapy, but the guidelines tend to be biased toward medication.”

Holistic Mental Health Practitioner Dr. Tyler Woods further explains:

The DSM tends to pathologize normal behaviors. For instance, the label “Anxiety Disorder” can be given as a result of some kinds of normal and rather healthy anxieties but the DSM will have experts view it and treat it as mental illness. In addition simple shyness can be seen and treated as “Social Phobia”, while spirited and strong willed children as “Oppositional Disorder”. Consequently, many psychotherapists, regardless of their theoretical orientations, tend to follow the DSM as instructed. (source)

Neurologist Richard Saul spent his career examining patients who struggle with short attention spans and difficulty focusing. His extensive experience has led him to believe that ADHD isn’t actually a disorder, but rather an umbrella of symptoms that shouldn’t be considered a disease. Thus, Saul believes it shouldn’t be listed as a separate disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual. You can read more about his opinion in our article here.

Leading integrative pediatrician and author of ADHD without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD Dr. Sanford Newmark, M.D. has spent more than 15 years studying and successfully treating ADHD naturally. Some of his recommendations include improved nutrition, increased sleep, iron, zinc, and Omega-3 supplementation, family counselling, making positive social and behavioural changes, and pursing alternative modalities such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy. Dr. Newmark considers conventional medication a “last resort,” given the fact that ADHD drugs only work about 70% of the time and have potential negative side effects .

It is clear that many doctors are starting to recognize the importance of treating ADHD outside conventional methods. Misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis of ADHD is a serious issue in the U.S., one that is heavily fuelled by the pharmaceutical industry. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADHD, I strongly suggest you research this subject more and explore alternatives to medication with the help of a healthcare practitioner!

 

Source:collective-evolution.com