Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

In the mid-1980’s, mainstream media were reporting that there was an epidemic of depression among the young people in America. This epidemic began decades earlier, in the late 1960’s with the women’s movement and the rush to the workplace of women who would have, in the past, chosen to stay home. Instead, many followed the trend of the day, dropped their infants and toddlers off at daycare, and pursued a career path. Out of this movement of women into the workplace came studies of the damage done to their “latchkey” children and, after that, the studies of this epidemic of depression among our youth.

Concurrently, ADHD, a new diagnostic label for hyperactive children and youth, was making its way into the culture.

While the diagnostic label ADHD has become very widespread in America since 1967, with diagnosed cases rising 66% in the last ten years, according to Vincent Iannelli, M.D., it was not recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) published in 1980. That edition included Attention Deficit Disorder, with subtypes ADD with hyperactivity, ADD without hyperactivity, and ADD residual type. In the years between 1967 and 1980, pharmaceutical companies were doing research into the effect of stimulants for children with hyperkinetic behavior, and in 1967 and 1968, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) began issuing grants to researchers to study the effectiveness of stimulants for children with symptoms now lumped together under the ADHD label.

So the stage was being set for decades to create a promising market for methylphenidate and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine drugs. Ianelli points out that, as early as 1970, the Washington Post reported that 5 to 10 percent of all school children in special education programs in Omaha, Nebraska, were receiving stimulants, like Ritalin, to control their behavior. The article indicated that many parents were being coerced by the school districts into medicating their children. (http://pediatrics.about.com/od/ adhd/a/history_adhd.htm)

This coercion continues today, with child protective service agencies accusing parents of abuse, and, in some cases, removing the child from the home if they refuse to medicate their child.

In contrast to the American medical/pharmaceutical approach to hyperactivity in children, Marie H. Reinholdt, PhD, points out that in Britain and most of Europe, during the period from 1960 to 2010, medical and educational professionals continued to look for cause in family relationships relying on patient explanations and family interventions for correcting the majority of disruptive behavior in school children. Rejecting drug therapy until the mid-1990s, even England and other European countries, facing a significant increase in hyperactive children, began to succumb to the ADHD diagnosis and drug therapies. (http://perso.ens-lyon.fr/neil.vaytet/documents /Reinholdt_thesis.pdf)

Treatment Protocol for ADHD

Lydia Furman, M.D., among other professionals, continues to question if ADHD is a valid diagnosis, rather than a group of common behaviors that have their actual root cause in a myriad of emotional, psychological, and/or learning problems. She points out:

”Core” ADHD symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity are not unique to ADHD. Rates of “comorbid” psychiatric and learning problems, including depression and anxiety, range from 12 to 60%, with significant symptom overlap with ADHD, difficulties in diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment methods that do not include stimulant medications. No neuropsychologic test result is pathognomic for ADHD, and structural and functional neuroimaging studies have not identified a unique etiology for ADHD. No genetic marker has been consistently identified, and heritability studies are confounded by familial environmental factors. The validity of the Conners’ Rating Scale-Revised has been seriously questioned, and parent and teacher “ratings” of school children are frequently discrepant, suggesting that use of subjective informant data via scale or interview does not form an objective basis for diagnosis of ADHD. Empiric diagnostic trials of stimulant medication that produce a behavioral response have been shown not to distinguish between children with and without “ADHD.” In summary, the working dogma that ADHD is a disease or neurobehavioral condition does not at this time hold up to scrutiny of evidence. Thorough evaluation of symptomatic children should be individualized, and include assessment of educational, psychologic, psychiatric, and family needs. (http://jcn.sagepub.com/content/20/12/994.short)

At the ALTERNATIVE APA, our evaluations and treatment are individualized, and we place great emphasis on repairing the trauma that children experience when they are separated from mother, whether as infants in daycare or as “latchkey” youngsters coming home to a dark and empty home each day.

We see infants crying at bedtime or toddlers becoming hyperactive and running around the house to avoid the discomfort of making the transition from being awake and close to mother to being alone and asleep in the dark. We see the same thing happening with small children coming home with no one to greet them. All alone in a big house with no one there, they are pushed into a hyper alert state where they are frightened. They know the parents really love them. Their parents show great interest in them, teach them things, and nurture them, but working parents are not available when the children come home and need to share their school experiences with someone they trust.

Once families – and educators, who are on the front line of identifying hyperactive behavior – begin to recognize and meet the children’s need for safe, consistent, responsive interactions with adults, and, especially with their parents, symptoms begin to disappear, and all medication can be stopped.

Barbara Benjamin, a child development professional and school district administrator, reported that, in a one day treatment center which she ran, all the teenagers, who had failed to succeed in any of the New York City schools, achieved success once they were in a safe environment with responsive teachers and daycare workers. They were also able to reduce and eliminate medications they had been taking for ADHD, and a variety of other diagnosed disorders. This was accompanied by careful instruction to parents as to how to provide the nurturing that children needed at home.

Case History

One patient, whose nickname from childhood was Twitch, was in constant motion with one part of his body or another twitching or jerking every few seconds. This was constant. His wife said he had to have Adderall to keep it from happening. I had a better idea. I spotted a recording of Swami Chidananda, a Bhakti Yogi and spiritual leader of India until he retired in 2001. I said “Let’s try something. Close your eyes and listen to this recording.” His wife was with him, and, afterward, I wished I had told her to keep her eyes open to watch him. The transformation was unbelievable. There was not one single movement. Responding to the voice and message of this holy man, Twitch became reconnected with Universal Love, and his earlier trauma of separation and the hyperactivity that it created simply disappeared. No pill ever could have accomplished as much!

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