Thursday, December 07, 2006

I’m warning you guys now...

Brace yourselves.

So, a teenager facing 27 criminal charges couldn’t be held in jail. Kid steals a car and smacks into a vehicle at high speed, killing a mother of three.

The teenager was described throughout the report as a "troubled boy," had tried to evade police and was high on drugs at the time.

He’s been sentenced to 4 ½ years in custody for the death.

27 charges? And he isn’t even so young that they aren’t naming names. The victim’s family is pushing for answers. They think they’re being heard, but the skeptic in me says that things are a long way from being better where young offenders are concerned.

Why? Have you heard about this “incident”where two kids threw a rock from an overpass and killed a bus driver?

I saw the headline yesterday. No jail time.

And what gets me about that is, it isn’t the first time this has happened. There have been several incidents where drivers have been lucky to survive having a rock strike their windshield while driving on a highway.

Meanwhile, Graffiti discovered in the playground of an elementary school was so sexually explicit, students weren't allowed outside for recess or lunch yesterday, say officials.
And police said it's becoming a disturbing trend they're seeing more frequently at schools across the city.
Goody goody gumdrops – this story comes from Calgary.

So, across my fair nation we have druggie criminal teens stealing cars and killing people, getting slapped on the wrist for it, other kids not being held responsible for throwing rocks off overpasses and killing someone….

Is anyone going to jail anymore?

Why yes. Yes, someone is. The kid that played with his Christmas present.

Let me give Mom here this much credit. She at least realizes that kids need to face consequences. But this story infuriates me, for a number of reasons.

We’ve got kids who are actually criminals who need to be locked up for serious crimes who are being let run free, but we expect our police to waste time, energy and money incarcerating a kid who wouldn’t listen to his mother?

And then we come to the infamous, “The mother said her son was diagnosed in the last year with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but his medicine does not seem to help” lines.

Would it be wrong of me to show up at her house and smack her? Seriously, I did one of my special education reports on ADHD. The fucking drugs are only one component in a six-part strategy for affecting behaviour. You don’t just pump the kids full of drugs and expect them to be better! That’s why I lean a bit on the no-drug side – not because the drugs are never effective. Sometimes they’re very effective. But the way they’re being used is just to sedate kids who aren’t being taught coping skills or strategies for handling themselves when they aren’t medicated. And that’s a problem.

The drugs are all too often being used as a band-aid, and that’s not what they should be used for. Okay, in fairness to Mom here, yes it sounds like the kid has some other problems. But if you’re going to have your child arrested maybe you should do it when he assaults a human being, not opens a Christmas gift early, ya think?

Beyond that, the fact that the solution here is to call the police… What happened to counseling? Talking to the doctor who prescribes his medication? Reading a book about your son’s condition and maybe trying to make some lifestyle changes that will help?

Did you know that in some countries doctors aren’t allowed to prescribe ridilin until they can prove dietary intervention has failed?

Now, it’s funny, because this is the topic I had planned for yesterday, but blogger wasn’t working. Otherwise it would have followed by post about the kids I worked with five years ago.

Remember the violent one? We discovered through careful monitoring that there were foods contributing to his behavioural issues. Every day for months I wrote in his journal what he ate, what his mood was like, positive and negative behaviours, and we started to see the connections.

Part of the reason that the room split also worked for him was that he needed to be able to focus without distraction. He could cope in a room with 9 other children. He couldn’t concentrate with 26 others.

About 9 years ago now, I worked in a different place. One child, in the center of a custodial conflict, was ADHD. He had the foulest mouth I’ve ever heard, and that takes some doing. Fuck was his favourite word. He was 7. And before you dismiss it to any gangster stuff, he was Caucasian and attended Catholic School, played hockey and had no street exposure.

One parent didn’t want him medicated. Another did. So what that parent did was provide his teacher with chocolate and meds and the teacher put the meds in the chocolate and gave him some every morning. He didn’t even know he was being drugged.

Now, he did stop swearing so much. And he really was a hyper kid. Reminded me a bit of a monkey, always running around, swinging off of whatever, could not sit still for two seconds, absolutely no respect for authority either.

That changed. He became lethargic, listless and didn’t have the same energy for sports (the only thing that saved this kid and the staff, because we could channel that energy).

But you can only medicate kids on ridilin for a fixed number of hours. Then they come off of it. And if you haven’t been using the ‘down’ time to teach them about behaviour, to provide an environment that helps them learn and focus so that they can begin to implement coping strategies, you haven’t done anything but make a teacher’s life a bit easier for a few hours.

You certainly haven’t helped the kid learn. And since he doesn’t know he’s being medicated and Mom isn’t there to see it during the day, how do you assess if the dosage is correct? Who’s monitoring the side effects to see if maybe that should be changed? It’s certainly not a teacher’s responsibility, and I hate to say it, but all too many of them are just happy not to deal with the outbursts. Some really don’t care as long as the kid shuts up.

I’m only pointing it out to say that when I see these parents all of a sudden snap and go medieval and blame the drugs for not working I want to scream. I guess I’ve worked with too many of them, who want the quick fix. And they think that being ‘tolerant’ and overlooking all their child’s misbehaviour is love. It isn’t – it’s bullshit. You overlook your seven-year-old son calling you a fucking bitch? You overlook him bullying other children? You overlook him hitting other kids with a hockey stick? You overlook him running away from his instructors and refusing to listen to them? You overlook him doing his schoolwork?

And then one day you’ve had enough and you do what, exactly? It isn’t like you’ve ever disciplined him.

And I’m not even opposed to ridilin, btw. Oh, sure, it would be nice if we didn’t rely so much on medication. But the goal here is supposed to be addressing the child’s issues in an effective manner that allows them to cope with their condition.

Because it’s one they have to live with for life. And at some point, they have to be able to handle life without the drugs.

You haven’t done anything to help your kid if you haven’t helped them face that. It isn’t love to not teach your child how to be responsible and independent.

It’s negligence.

Sometimes, I really miss kids and think about going back to work.

And then I think about the parents.


M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm going to do my usual spiel - Ritilin is an amphetamine. It does not sedate. It is speed. In children with ADD, it has the effect of helping them focus. Children who don't need ritilin react the way any of us would react to ingesting a dose of speed.

There are number of meds for treating ADD/ADHD. Straterra, which is proving to be very effective, is not a controlled substance and doesn't need a fresh prescription every month. It tends to have fewer side effects regarding tics and is formulated as a timed-release medication which is effective for 24 hours, helping to smooth out the peaks and valleys of drug therapy.

ADD and it's close brother, ADHD, both need comprehensive treatment which begins with testing. There is no glory in trying dietary measures first since the medicine helps so well, and helps so quickly (20 minutes after ingesting. Go ahead, set your watch.) Careful parenting and monitoring are essential for your ADD child, as it is for any child. However, all the wonderful parenting in the world goes into the toilet when the unmedicated child is opening every window in the house, having tourette like outbursts in public and pulling the bottom can out of a display to 'see what happens.'

You may as well get annoyed at a diabetic who is getting loopy because his blood sugar is going wacky.

I've no idea what the reasons are for the disparate treatment of these various cases. Not everything gets reported in the news and jailtime is not always the best treatment for young offenders.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I don't necessarily disagree with you about jail, Mindy. Although there comes a point where something has to be done. In the case of our joy-riding killer, 27 charges? And where are the parents?

Yes, true that not everything gets reported in the media, but still, if you as a parent are going to send your kid to jail wouldn't you do it when he assaults another child, not when he opens a Christmas present early?

It smacks of reactive parenting to me, on an extreme scale. But what I find even more puzzling is, why did the police put him in jail? Geez, what kid hasn't snuck a peek at a Christmas present?

As to the dietary thing, it at least used to be the law in Australia - I'm a bit behind on this stuff now, but the issue surrounded the willingness of doctors to prescribe ridilin unnecessarily, under pressure from parents. There were high numbers of kids being medicated who shouldn't have been medicated. I think that's the critical thing - as you've pointed out the effects are bad if you shouldn't be medicated.

But like all medications, you need to monitor it. I can only say in Canada, in my experience, that's where the gap comes in. It's only used during school hours and I wasn't required to fill out any paperwork on medication unless I administered it. Most kids were given it by their parent, or a school designated nurse (not in the classroom) so there's no follow-through. And that's where using the meds becomes a band-aid because nobody's asking if the dosage is right, if it's effective.

One thing I know, watching those kids spiral isn't fun. The one child I talked about with the diet, he did end up getting medicated as well. We used our daylight hours to teach him coping strategies - a safe place to go when he felt frustrated, a focus task that he could channel the craziness into. We gave him an environment where coming off didn't have to be striking people. It wasn't perfect, but it was substantially better than what had been happening before.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Okay Mindy, on the meds vs natural methods debate, you must check this out. Different meds, different problem. Thanks James.

Anonymous said...

My problem with Ritalin is that it's being used for everything now. I have a friend with Asperger's and she was on Ritalin for a long time. She doesn't necessarily need help focusing, there are just certain cercumstances where it just isn't possible for her to do well, her brain doesn't process information in those conditions. Ritalin isn't going to change that.

Now her mother has her heading off to a four year private college. I shudder to think what new meds they'll find for her to use to cope there, because it's just going to overwhelm her beyond belief. Everyone who knows her is aware of this. Everyone except her mother. norby

angie said...

Um, what? The link on James O's blog is about gene therapy, not medication (and I couldn't find the article when I followed the link).

Medications alone are not the answer for ADD or ADHD kids, but they are necessary to help the kids level out enough so that they are capable of learning coping skills. Untreated ADD and ADHD has been linked to some really nasty behavior in adults (meth addiction anyone?) who are either attempting to self-medicate or are so out of control they end up in the adult criminal justice system.

I can't speak about the kids who have committed crimes in Canada and not gotten jail time. The age, home environment, and mental health issues are surely part of the reasoning behind this. Also, what is not reported (here in the US, at least) is when these kids are placed in lock-down residential facilities to address substance abuse/addiction issues and behavioral management issues.

In the past, I would advise parents to contact their local police and/or juvenile detention centers for a tour of the local jail/prison/juvenile detention centers as a way to bring home what the consequences are for criminal behavior. Sometimes it worked (usually with the younger kids - helped a lot with a 9 year old fire-starter I worked with). It is possible that the Christmas gift incident was part of a larger behavioral pattern. The news gives such a tiny part of what is happening that it's hard to know how to respond.

This debate will continue. I'm all for consequences, I'm just not convinced that jail or prison time is automatically the best response in all (or even most) juvenile cases. It is absolutely true that too much time incarcerated simply teaches kids how to be more efficient and violent criminals. Each case is different, though. I've seen kids who should be locked up who weren't, and vice versa.

I hate it when you put up posts like this. The whole complicated subject continues to piss me off with its myriad facets and the level of outrage that overshadows the process of managing these problems. It is not something that can be broken down with one piece pointed to as the origin. It has to be approached holistically, and that is overwhelming for most rational folks. And it's not something that is usually reported in the media.

JamesO said...

No problem, Sandra. All part of the service;}#

We don't tend to drug our children to quite the same extent as they seem to in the US (not yet, at least). One of the most telling things I saw, however, was when Jamie Oliver did his school meals makeover. As part of the show he went to one child's home and persuaded his parents to completely change the diet, substituting fresh veg and stuff for the processed junk he'd been eating. Before, the kid was a complete nightmare - banging off the walls, shouting at his parents and behaving in a manner that would have got me thrashed with a riding crop when I was his age (but that's another story). At the end of five days he was a calm, focussed and intelligent kid. Could have been a completely different person.

Likewise, my nephew Fingal is an engaging and friendly eight year old, but give him one boiled sugar sweet with red colouring in it and in minutes he's hitting his brothers over the head with whatever blunt instrument comes to hand.

I'd love to know what the levels of ADD/ADHD are in countries like France and Italy where they have a decent food culture. I'm betting it's a good bit lower than the US.

JamesO said...

Angie - I've updated the link so it points straight to the article now. It's only a snippet, but I thought it amusing.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I think what I don't get in the Great ADD/ADHD drug debate is why it's a debate at all. These drugs truly aren't easy to get, at least not in the U.S. Doctors are required to see patients every so many months or weeks in order to be allowed to re-prescribe them. Nobody would tsk tsk a person for taking cancer meds, even if they started heaping on one med after another.

Asperger's in an interesting syndrome which often appears in conjunction with ADD/ADHD. It's not a made up condition, any more than ADD/ADHD. Only a qualified psychiatric professional is equipped to diagnose it properly and the physician prescribes medication based on appropriate recommendation from the literature which is based on research obtained through a proper scientific process.

In other words, doctors aren't prescribing this stuff because they just want to see what happens. Give 'em a little credit. I mean, you're happy enough to see them when you're in the ER with chest pains...

Sandra - very funny link. Re: the kid with 27 charges. Yeah, he probably needs something more than a slap on the wrist, but I don't know what he needs. People aren't required to obtain a license or pass a test to become parents. Anybody with viable eggs, a partner with viable sperm and an unprotected quarter-hour on a Saturday night can beome one. Doesn't mean they'll step up when the kid arrives. Doesn't mean they won't fall down along the way.

I don't see the three cases as related, Sandra. The cops probably put the kid in 'jail' at the parent's request.

Was it a good idea? I wouldn't do it to my kid, but I guess if the kid obeys his mother after that, she may think it was worth it.

M. G. Tarquini said...

And I agree, James. A proper diet is essential for any kid. My kids eat well, which may account for why they do so well with their ADD/ADHD. Then again, my last name also ends in 'i'. We're pretty picky about our food.

We also severely limit computer games and television in general and keep the kids in physical activities. Both are gymnasts and black belts in Tae Kwon Do.

I think handing ritilin to an ADD kid with chocolate is tantamount to drinking diet soda with your ice cream float. The one cancels out the other. Chocolate is a drug and generally not a good one for kids with ADD.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, "Medications alone are not the answer for ADD or ADHD kids, but they are necessary to help the kids level out enough so that they are capable of learning coping skills." See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. You use the medication as a means to an end, not make it the end itself (unless all other efforts have failed, in which case there's probably something more than ADD or ADHD there).

I'm sorry that these posts bug you. I just get so frustrated, seeing story after story, stories like this.

I guess part of the reason I get frustrated is that when I was assaulted when I was 14, all my attackers walked away. The police could do nothing, the parents wouldn't do anything. The result? I ended up in therapy and was sent to a different high school in a different town where I didn't have to fear for my safety.

So, I look at these things, and what I see is a pattern of neglect, from parents and the law, to hold kids accountable. And it's a pattern of neglect that's been going on for a long time. Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse. It frustrates me.

Norby, I'd be very frustrated for your friend as well.

The ritilin thing really is a side issue. It's just one symptom of the bigger problem. There are a lot of parents out there who don't actually raise their kids. And that concerns me.

Okay, now my blood pressure's going up!

James, love that dietary story. I have a book called 'Is Your Child's Brain Starving?' all about how failing to nourish children through healthy eating is contributing to learning issues across the board. I'm not an extreme health nut either, but there's enough evidence there to not dismiss it lightly.

Zinnia said...

Oh wow. I've gone on about such things too. Part of the problem is our government and how much they legislate everything from infant carseats to taxes to what to do with a criminal child. 90% of the time, what the government decides is bs that only makes the issue worse.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Zinnia, it's a mess, isn't it? Sometimes the parents are useless, sometimes the government. Sometimes both...

Any ideas for how to do things better?

angie said...

This topic is frustrating on a number of levels and the overall sense of utter brokeness of the systems in place are just plain depressing.

The article you linked to is another story I've heard more than once. Where was the father of these 2 girls? Where were the family supports? WTF?! That's messed up when a kid genuinely believes the only way out of a crappy, neglectful situation is to commit murder.

I worked with a girl who killed her father - she was constantly haunted by what she had done and how it had torn her (abusive and extremely dysfunctional) family apart. In her mind, she was protecting her siblings, her mother and herself. Now she has to live with the fact that she killed her father.

There are a couple of documentaries that you might find interesting. One of them is called "Girlhood" - I showed this one to the girls I used to work with & they could absolutely relate and identify with the 2 girls in the film. Another one is "Girl Trouble," a new docu set in San Francisco. I haven't seen it yet, but the trailer definitely looks like familiar territory for me. Just another perspective on the fucked up situations and systems in the U.S.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, those are the questions automatically popping up in my mind. Nobody sees there are problems? Nobody sees it coming?

Speaking of stellar parents, here's a real winner.

Maybe we're so socially disconnected anymore, so conditioned to turning a blind eye, that we just don't see what's going on around us. I don't know.

Sela Carsen said...

When I had my dd tested for ADD (child can't pay attention for a New York minute), one of the first things the dr did was suggest a horrifying and bewildering array of medications, Ritalin being one of many.

We didn't go back to the dr.

She manages quite well with attention to her diet and -- no kidding -- a cup of coffee (1/2 coffee, 1/2 milk, 1/2 tsp of sugar) before she heads off to school. The caffeine wakes up the focus part of her brain. There's anecdotal evidence of this, but no firm research on it.

However, it's noticable when she doesn't have her coffee in the morning. She's distractable, fiddly and not as happy.

Fortunately, although she tests high (or is it low?) in the focus aspect of ADD, she has no other behaviour problems that accompany it. Thank God. If there had been other serious issues, we might have considered drugs more strongly.

The thing is, I didn't want her medicated partly because of my own experience. I'm ADD, too, and I have to function on my own. I forget a lot of things and I make a lot of mistakes, but I can say I got where I am by virtue of being me. Not me on brain-chemistry altering drugs.

The world will not stop for her while she refills her prescription. She has to learn to live her life as she is.

I hope that sounds realistic and not overly harsh.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, personally Sela, I don't think it sounds overly harsh. It sounds to me like you're an understanding, hands-on parent who's open-minded about possible approaches to best help your child. And you understand this from your own experiences. I've seen too many negatives come from putting kids on drugs to just automatically enlist that option. Of course, it's never my decision, but when I hear some talk about how 'if only little Johnny could go on ridilin it would fix everything' I do want to smack them.

I'd never heard that about coffee but that's very interesting! Did you know milk products can cause aggression in some kids? I believe in monitoring diets.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I have a cousin who was 'hyperactive' as a kid. The prescription was coffee in the morning. It helped for a few hours. The effective ingredient is caffeine which is a 'speed up' drug. I don't know why speed up drugs have a calming effect on ADD people, but they do.

I have ADD, as does my husband. Husband did ritalin for a year ten years ago or so and hasn't needed it since. I have a prescription that I keep in my purse, but which, in true ADD fashion, I never remember to take.

Many kids with ADD learn to cope. Many go off the medication eventually as other life skills are learned. Some always do better on the drugs. There is nothing intrinsically evil about any of the medicines. They have a purpose and when prescribed appropriately, serve that purpose. There is no extra measure of glory in refusing to use the medication as there is no extra measure of stigma for choosing the opposite. Every case is different. Some ADD kids are like brittle diabetics, using their medicine makes them able to live and function in this world. There is an ever widening variety of medicine available to treat ADD/ADHD. Ritalin is not the only option.

I keep popping in on this topic, whereever I find it because I don't think anybody is served by attaching a judgment to the disorder or the medication needed to treat it.

ADD/ADHD is a horribly misunderstood disorder in the lay world. And people generally don't like to see a kid 'on drugs'. My kids are not 'on drugs'. They are taking medicine for a condition that we have carefully researched and for which we've sought the best of help. Nobody would fault us if the treatment they needed was for God forbid, cancer, or diabetes. Yet the opinion that 'People sedate kids with Ritalin' just to 'keep them quiet' is tossed about like popcorn in a movie theater.


Because it makes good press. Who'd watch a news story about the number of children helped each year by proper treatment for ADD? We don't hear the stories about the nice kids who mind their business and their manners, work hard at school and are kind to animals. It's the ones who get guns and blow away their schoolmates, or rob banks, or join gangs who make the headlines.

Sorry. End Rant.

Guess we all know the topic that steams M.G.'s dumplings, don't we?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Mindy, there's no need to apologize for expressing yourself here. I don't really disagree with you - I think it comes off sounding like I'm very anti-ritilin, when what I'm really for is a total approach to ADD/ADHD. When you say, "Yet the opinion that 'People sedate kids with Ritalin' just to 'keep them quiet' is tossed about like popcorn in a movie theater. Why? Because it makes good press" - that may be true of a lot of people, but I could actually tell you names of teachers who said stuff like, "Just put him on drugs so I don't have to deal with him" - even for children not diagnosed.

So, I'm a bit knee-jerk on it, because I've seen a number of cases where it's been handled badly. But bear in mind, in the seven or so years I was in the field, considering some of my programs topped 80 children (I've done large group and one-on-one - I went to one-on-one because of stuff like this) I've worked with a lot of kids. If I'm fair, I'd say of the 400+ kids I've worked with over the years, an astronomically small percentage of them were improperly medicated.

But each time they were it was that kind of sentiment that was whispered.

Here we have something called being coded. Kids with 'special educational concerns' are given a code number.

There are some schools that refuse to accept any child into their program that has a code.

What concerns me about that is, again, it isn't about educating kids. It's about a way to segregate kids, and in that case, removing perceived "problematic" kids so that teachers don't have to deal with them in those schools.

Isn't that discrimination? Yet it's being allowed. How is it any different than the overburdened schoolteachers where these coded kids do go hoping kids will be put on ridilin?

In reality, it's the same thing. Put them somewhere (physically or in a mental state) where I don't have to deal with them.

The thing is, I've worked with other kids being medicated where I didn't even know about it. Because the parents handled it, monitored it and were effectively parenting their kids.

I'm not anti-ridilin, just against using it as a band-aid. I've seen that attitude here anyway enough to know it's a very real one, unfortunately.

Sela Carsen said...

I hear you, M.G. I really do. As I said, if she'd had more issues than the one with attention, we'd have considered medication more strongly.

And frankly, if the dr hadn't just tossed us a list of drugs to take -- if, instead, she'd talked about behaviour modification, dietary influences, etc, we'd have been a lot less horrified.

I'm just a strong proponent for teaching her the skills she'll need for handling ADD for the rest of her life.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I could actually tell you names of teachers who said stuff like, "Just put him on drugs so I don't have to deal with him" - even for children not diagnosed.

I totally believe you on that. But no doctor is going to put a kid on speed because some teacher who has no idea how the drug works says she wants him on it. Diagnosis involves a battery of behavorial and cognitive tests, questionnaires filled out by the parents, caregivers and teachers. There are scoring systems. The adults could all get together and decide, 'That kid needs drugs.' and answer so as to encourage diagnosis, but the psychologist and psychiatrist administering the independent tests will need to see corraboration there before pulling out the prescription pad.

We have those same codes here - IEP kids. Fortunately, federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against those children. Included in the designation for IEP are gifted children, as well as the physically and mentally challenged and any with behavorial issues.

My kids go to public school, but they are in one that seems to handle the very bright, the ADD, and the physically and mentally challenged very well and I credit them with helping my children to have a happy childhood. I found the school on recommendation from one of the kids' doctors, who, as it turns out, loves the school so much she sends her own child there.

Here's my take on the 'Ritalin as a bandaid' solution. A diabetic kid who is insulin dependant is at a disadvantage if his parents are negligent and do not monitor his diet. The insulin will help to keep him stable and is used as a bandaid to mitigate poor dietary choices. Think of Ritalin the same way. IF the kid doesn't have ADD, the Ritalin won't help, and will likely make them worse and they'll stop giving it to him. But for the kid who does ADD, even if the parents are idiots who think the drug is where their parenting responsibility begins and ends, at least the kid is getting some relief from symptoms.

ADD/ADHD can be painful, physically as well as mentally. I lot of people aren't aware of the physical pain associated with the disorder. Ritalin doesn't take the place of poor parenting, but it may help the situation until somebody notices and provides more help.

This is not a topic with a black and white solution and it's a topic that can be as large as the world, or as small as the little fellow sitting across from me in the living room, doing his math homework.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Sela, did you see a pediatric psychiatrist or just the pediatrician?

Our children's pediatrician started my son on small doses of Clonidine first, to see if that would be enough. Then he moved to low-dose Ritalin to see if that were effective. It was very effective, but only for four hours at a time. It became evident, quickly, that this was exactly what my son needed. However, it was equally obvious that he needed to be monitored. At that point, our pediatrician handed him over to a pediatric psychiatrist and a pediatric psychologist at the Children's Hospital for further evaluation. The pediatrician said that he was not comfortable prescribing more than the very basic job because... well, because he's not a psyciatrist.

Good pediatric psychiatrists are a bitch to find. None of the ones in our city take insurance. The medicines used to treat ADD are not to be prescribed lightly and they do need close monitoring, especially in kids. Kids are growing, and highly metabolic. Their needs and dosages change all the time.

I really am pleased that coffee is enough for your daughter and that you've found a good solution for your family. That's what we're all striving for. If you ever think you need to go further, please seek out a kids psych doc. If you are in the States and you ever need a recommendation, drop me an email and I'll put my husband on it . If you are in Canada, he might be able to get you some recs there, also.

It's truly nice to hear from another parent who's fighting the dragon and winning.

Sela Carsen said...

*snort* We were being seen by a pediatrician at an Army base. Now, God love the Army, because no one else does. They have some of the worst medical care in the military. This coming from someone who was treated like a minor goddess at Air Force bases (not just an officer's wife, but he was a WSO, which is one step removed from God. Er, I mean, pilots. ;) )

Anyway, you get whoever picks up your chart when you show up. Luck of the draw.

So far, the coffee is working, so we'll stick with that. But she's 9, so things will begin to change soon. *sigh* We'll be watchful and deal with it as it comes.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I hear you. My kids' psychiatrist wanted to try a new drug on my daughter (she needs help to get to sleep or she'll be up all night). He gives me confusing dosing requirements, then tells me it may affect her appetite.

I stopped him right there. She'll be going into puberty soon and her weight is beautifully balanced. She eats when she's hungry, stops when she's not. I'm not mucking with that during the 'Do you think I look fat?' years. We're keeping her on her current medicine for sleep. if it takes her a little longer to go out, it takes her a little longer. No way I'll be guilty of aiding an abetting an eating disorder.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Mindy, all I know is that the teachers were often asked to provide letters for the doctors. Some of the kids put on drugs weren't formally diagnosed. The other day I blogged about the kid with ODD and CD? Now, okay, I felt certain about his condition, because I worked with him for a long time. And because Kevin was brought in to video him as part of the behavioural assessment and Kevin's trained in the DSM and used to work in a psych hospital (social worker). But by you can't diagnose five-year-olds with those disorders here. His was one specific case where a teacher pressed the parent hard to get him medicated, despite the fact that our intervention strategy was proving effective, and he was medicated without any formal diagnosis. In his case, I don't remember the drug he was put on, but Kevin knew it - a psychotropic drug. He started coming in in the morning looking dead, like he hadn't slept, like he had no energy for anything, lost all interest in activities...

I think the problem is, some doctors (here anyway) will give in to pressure. When I saw the doctor about my tonsils they told me my situation wasn't severe, but that if I wanted surgery I could have it. My choice. No cost, completely covered by health care. I'd lived with recurring throat infections for so long I had the surgery. Didn't even give it a second thought. Even with the time off work I saved money in the long run because I didn't need prescriptions anymore.

It's sort of evidence of the systematic problem. I know doctors in Calgary I could go see and say, "I need this prescription" and they'd just hand it over, without any assessment. I say that because I've done it before. In my case, I actually do know what I need when my illness is a problem, but a doctor I haven't seen in two years shouldn't hand me anything without a check-up.

And that's what worries me about the kids. Having seen a few who did get medicated when the parents put enough pressure on doctors, in some cases after teachers put enough pressure on them, makes me worry. The percentage of occurances is small, but it's still there.

Of course, we have a doctor shortage here. Makes me wonder if we're always getting the right people for the jobs.

Eileen said...

Many parents really scare me....

M. G. Tarquini said...

all I know is that the teachers were often asked to provide letters for the doctors.

Yes, that's standard for diagnosis here, but it's not the deciding factor. I can't speak to what Standard of Care is in Canada, nor how your system works. My only experience is here.

And incompetent doctors are found all over.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Me too Eileen.

Unfortunate about that reality with doctors, Mindy.

I'm curious about something. If it's the caffeine in the coffee that helps some, does it work the same if they have pop or chocolate? Or does anyone know?

Sela Carsen said...

Apparently it's the caffeine. Dark soda like Coke makes her nuts, but she's fine with things like Sprite. She eats chocolate, but not by the bucketful.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I think people need to petition their representatives to get some better laws!

For little juvenile delinquints like that, I'd like to reach out and touch! And don't get me started on how their creating a whole new generation that think drugs are the answer.

I wonder what DNA will look like in another 100 years, if the Lord tarrys!

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JamesO said...

I wonder if you can get all those blogspot addresses taken down if you report them to Blogger...

M. G. Tarquini said...


The active ingredient is the caffeine. Chocolate has other ingredients that can affect ADD/ADHD. I really limit the chocolate my kids get. It makes them nuts. I forget the name of what's bad news about chocolate - theobromine or something like that? Some kids aren't affected by it at all. Mine get crazed.