Monday, December 12, 2011

ADHD: Not something to joke about

There are a few rabbis on the internet who will tell you that ADHD is not a real disorder, and it's the parents who need medicating, not the children.

Unfortunately, ADHD is real, and no amount of telling funny jokes about giving the medication to the teacher instead of the child, will change that fact. The medication stimulates the part of the child's brain that has not yet matured, and whilst it is not easy to accept the fact that a child needs to be medicated, it really doesn't help the situation when rabbis continually speak about this disorder and dismiss it as nonsense.  Rabbis, please note, ADHD is real, and perhaps if you think differently, you should educate yourselves a bit more before you dish out the wrong advice to desperate families.

As this mother writes:

Having a longstanding aversion to any kind of medication, for me to accept the fact that my child might need stimulants in order to enable her to function in school was not easy. (By the way, I am sure that many of you are wondering why an overactive child needs stimulants. My daughter and her ADHD counterparts seem to be the proud owners of brains that have underdeveloped attention spans. Ritalin targets this part of the brain, and assists in improving concentration and focus.) After much research, I was ready to comply with her doctor’s recommendations, and she began taking a fairly low dosage. Although she had some side effects at first, such as trouble falling asleep and a decrease in appetite, with time these symptoms diminished entirely, and I must confess that it has made a huge difference in both our lives.

Read more at: Raising a Child with ADHD

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

In Rav Arush's new book 'Chinuch beAhava' (Education with love) he says that children who have a hard time concentrating in class it's because they are overstimulated by computer games etc where they grow used to fast moving pictures and sitting in front of a dead blackboard is just too boring.

Devorah said...

With all due respect to him, he is wrong.

Anonymous said...

devorah! what about daas toirah??!? what u mean he is wrong?!?

just last week lazerbrody said that his rav, rav arush, mediatated and prayed so hard for a very harsh decree was upon tel aviv and it was averted. he made this speech in brooklyn 2 weeks ago.

these guys are all full of ---- and they speak it in the name of our holy Torah.

read the Horizontal Society by Jose Faur. You will see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Thank You Thank You Devorah.

Please don't take the advise of Internet rabbis when it comes to adhd and other symptoms that appear simply because YOUR CHILD'S BRAIN IS WIRED DIFFERENTLY.

Celebrate your child, respect his/her G-d given differences, find the right educators, continue to search for solutions. But most of all, pray to Hashem, He will guide your child towards success.

Regards from a mom who B"H is on the other side of that turbulent road B"H.

Devorah said...

re: Anonymous: comment #1
40 years ago there were no computer games.
And yet..... kids had ADHD.... although they went undiagnosed, and usually left school at a very early age, some turned to drugs and crime, having no self-esteem due to their inability to concentrate and learn, and being thrown out of school.
These days we have the remedy for it.
It has nothing to do with computer games.... if that were the case, EVERY child would have ADHD, because very child plays computer games.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Devorah.

My son was expelled from his yeshiva school because they said he was uncontrollable. I listened to the internet rabbis and refused to medicate him.
Finally I met a doctor who not only fixed my son's problem, but gave him back his self esteem. You see up til then my son thought he was stupid but he isn't stupid at all infact he is in the top range of IQ tests, as the doctor told us. My son has just completed his finals-he made it to the end of the school year, in a new school and with the correct medication. He is able to concentrate and he is getting great results. The doc said he would not need the medication soon as his brain is maturing now but we are so proud of him - and he is hoping to study medicine to help other kids like himself.

Israel Rising said...

I wrote a long piece and it dd not go through. I don't know why. I am adamantly opposed to medicating for "ADHD." This is not because of "Internet Rabbis" but because these children do not need to be medicated. How could it be that a whole society of children has this problem. It is not the children or the teachers, but the style and tactics of our education system that need to change. Some kids are very very creative and need to learn in different ways. If or one am very hands on and was always bored and lacked concentration growing up. I finally excelled when I went to university and put my classes at night and worked during the day. I believe Ritalin (which is cut with amphetamines the same stuff that is in Speed) kills creativity and future geniuous. With Ritalin there would have been no Einstein.

Devorah said...

I know quite a few kids who took Ritalin during their school years. None of them have lost their creativity - in fact, one of them just developed a new computer programme and has been nominated for a high achievers award. That would not have been possible if he'd dropped out of school due to his inability to focus.

in the vanguard said...

How horrifying, if not criminal, that we've come to the point where we diagnose normal behavior as a disease and using medication to eliminate the offensive behavior. The practice is particularly horrible when the "diseased offenders" are children. But this is precisely what psychiatrists and "mental health professionals" promote for millions of healthy children.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the rabbis should refrain from commenting when it comes to medicine and science and stay focused on matters concerning G-d..

Daniela said...

Who did brody receive smicha from?

Devorah said...

Vanguard: they use medication to stimulate the inactive part of the brain, which allows the child to focus enough to learn. It's not a disease, it's an immature part of the brain, that's all... it usually fixes itself by the time the child reaches 18. But by then, school is over, and 15 years could be down the drain, if not for this ''dangerous'' drug.

Anonymous said...

ok. I am an ex-drug user. When my son was diagnosed and given Ritalin I decided to test it out for myself [I do not have ADHD]. I wanted to see for myself the effect of the pill and if it really was speed-like. Good news people: it's not and is actually nothing like it, becuase i know what speed is and i found out what ritalin is. Ritalin is nothing.... it just adjusts the part of the brain that is slow, but as I don't have ADHD it just made me feel awful and not the kind of drug you'd want to take ever again (unlike speed). i couldn't wait for it to wear off.

in the vanguard said...

There seems to be no point in bringing people who "believe" the pseudo-scientists, that it stimulates or effects "the immature part of the brain". I have spent years in the "scholastic" environment of neuro-psychologists. If you would know the junk they publish, you would at least take one step back from your undying faith in the nonsense these "psychics" have "evidence" for. For example, by frying a pigeon's brain at some locus, thereby causing the pigeon to not feed properly, they conclue they have located the feeding "control center" in the pigeon's brain. This is sick, my friends, it's dumb and stupid, but the very stuff PhDs are made of in this field. The fact that the pigeon can no longer hold its balance, who who knows what, they conveniently ignore. They also conveniently ignore the fact that eventually the pigeon can learn to eat, but this they won't tell you, because it ruins their previous publications, and if they do not publish - they perish.

What in the world is "attention deficit" and how is it different from "have to go to the bathroom now"? What in the world is "an immature" part of the brain when there are no two behavioral patterns alike any more than there are faces that look alike or fingerprints that match.

This is a TOXIC society, filled with toxins in the food and atmosphere and in the water. Giving drugs ADDS to the body's toxicity. Toxicity in the body ACCUMULATES. This is a society well submerged and assimilated by big-Pharma who could not only care less, but they profit immensely from this culture - to distance the people from what is NATURAL. That Devorah and other sophisticates approve of the diagnosis AND the toxic "therapy" is only a product of this culture to believe and have faith in the good doctors, into "the best medicine" in the world. These people also believe, no doubt, that there IS such a "disease" such as "schizophernia" or "depression" - for which there is, naturally, drugs to combat these. (But NEVER to cure!) That's why we still haven't vanquished cancer, because the mafia-big-pharma WILL NOT ALLOW anything but the expensive chemo- radio-"therapy" and surgery!

Devorah said...

All I can say is that the results speak for themselves. Healthy diet plays a big role in any person's life, and certain foods do make kids hyperactive, but that is not the same thing as the condition known as ADHD.

Leah said...

I used to immediately believe those who said don't medicate- it's all for the money etc....I believe that some children need meds and some do not.
My friend has bi-polar and her daughter has ADHD. It was like a nightmare to be with her before she was dignosed. She was a kid without ANY brakes. She wears a patch at night for the meds and she is a child who is succeeding in school and can control herself- not just the meds doing it for her.She recieves emotional help, too to help her recognize her behavior and ways to control it, too.
I believe that it is overgiven in many countries, yet there are kids who I believe need the meds.
I also agree with the issues of toxicity in the bloodstream etc...yet I must also say that if a kid fails in life because a parent will not med because of fear about toxicity will not have anything to worry about because that child will grow up to be an adult who will lack so much in so many other areas of his/her life that toxicity will not be the top priority...

Daniela said...

I don't know about ADHD so I will not comment, but when people are sick, let's say they unfortunately have a cancer, then most people avail themselves of the toxic substances, which if you don't mind, is their choice and a respectable one, after having paid taxes and/or health insurance for a lifetime. Some of them are alive after many years, a few are permanently cured. Or, one may allow nature to run its course, but without delusions and without giving $$$$ to the despicable predators that feed upon hope. I have nothing against those who think it is not worth wasting the taxpayer's money in a million dollar funeral, see for example this recent article: http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/11/30/how-doctors-die/read/nexus/
As long as people are aware of the choices that medicine can offer, it is within their rights to decide, and that includes declining, if one so wishes. That people are deluded about "toxins" and stuff, it is more disturbing to me. Especially given that usually it is accompanied by tirades about the jewish control on pharmaceutics and medicine, which frankly I think we can all do without.

Israel Rising said...

The long term effects of Ritalin have not been documented, but the long term effects of amphetamine have.

The reason why kids cannot concentrate in class is because the class education style is based on a strict German standard traced back to the late 1800s. The whole Western world is conditioned that you need to fit into this system to "make it." When kids don't they are medicated. The system has to change. Pure and simple.

By the way the claim that is an "immature part of the brain" does not hold water since many doctors have started promoting Ritalin among adults.

Please look more deeply into this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/adult-adhd-15-signs-you-m_n_867048.html#s283656&title=Youre_restless

Here they are claiming that people can have it when they are older and many never out grow it. You see first the medical community thought that Adhd was just a childhood thing and they saw that they could push more drugs as people got older and still more. So they keep on changing the definitions and releasing ridiculous studies.

Devorah said...

Obviously for some people the condition does not go away, but generally the child does grow out of it - all the ones I know about who had ADHD no longer use Ritalin and are leading normal productive lives.

I think the side-effects of a child being expelled from every school and thereby having no knowledge or self-esteem would be drastically worse than anything Ritalin could do. You would probably find that a great percentage of people in jails had/have untreated and undiagnosed ADHD who turned to a life of crime and/or drugs in order to exist due to their inability to be schooled.

I'm not defending drug companies, I have no allegiance to them, but there are times when medication is necessary and helpful.

Daniela said...

On the other hand, this is no reason to be disruptive, and no reason to feel disabled either. A person who finds it difficult to sit still, will perhaps be disadvantaged as a potential accountant, but will find it easy to make a living in sport, or become an entertainer; these are very respected and very well-paid professions in the secular world (let us put aside for a minute the haredim). Sometimes a little bit of common sense by the teacher and a little bit of chinuch by the parents (is it so hard to teach the child not to be obnoxious or disrupting to others? and that if he/she is bored of staying still and really must get some exercise, which actually most children do, every classroom has a door?? and behind the door, a convenient corridor?) are all that is needed.

Devorah said...

If only it was that simple Daniela.... schools seem to be esp unco-operative with regard to this. I did suggest to my son's headmaster that the restless boys be taught "on the run" lessons in playground, he laughed, but I was serious.

But even then the problem exists, it's not a question of going for a long run and then being able to focus - they still can't focus, and become bored and fidgity and spend their time in the corridor anyway, having been ejected from the classroom for annoying everyone else.

And while there are special schools available, they are financially out of reach for most people, even if they exist in your particular area.

Devorah said...

... and then there's the anger component. The child becomes so frustrated with life, and the inability to learn or fit in with others, the problem of having no friends because no parent wants that disruptive kid to be friends with their little angel..... so the ADD turns the child into a depressed, angry, confused and very vulnerable teenager.

And that is why parents medicate their kids - for all of these reasons. Next time you see a mother struggling with an uncontrollable child in a store, remember that mother is dealing with a huge issue, every day of her life. She doesn't need any condemnation from well-meaning rabbis/doctors who just don't GET it.

Daniela said...

Most of school is, unfortunately, inherently boring. I minded my own business in school, read books, wrote something else, and of course, asked for permission to exit. Teacher can scream and shout, but has no power (and besides, if lesson was not boring, students would listen). Also I would be curious to know how many children (or even adults: try the university classroom) would stay still every day for hours and hours. Not me, not my children. My parents, who both have been teachers for decades, estimate 10-20%. What about teachers? You have never seen teachers going out of the classroom, or of the building altogether, sometimes using excuses? ("smoke a cigarette" - I have heard this from people who have never smoked in their life. The bathroom. The coffee. A phone call. Forgot something in the library. Etc. etc.)

I believe we should not mix medical problems, which I don't doubt they exist and take advantage of medications, with basically normal behaviour which should not be turned into a disability, because it is not one.

Anonymous said...

The need to "snuff out" ADDers to accommodate society's current standard of organization is unfair and gross intolerance.

It is really just about people who feel threatened by a certain personality type and instead of tolerating a personality that can totally and completely fit within the framework of the eternal Torah, which is not necessarily reflected by society's current standards, they seek to control and subdue. It should be noted, that much great progress was made in the world by so called "ADD" iconoclastic types...

And yes, unfortunately the disadvantages of ADD do get aggravated by many of the goodies, refinement, etc..ie, highly processed food, TV and overstimulation through
computer recreation, etc....

Israel Rising said...

Daniella is right. Most conditions are nothing more than an ability to not adjust on the part of the school. Here in Israel (where lots of people medicate) there are high schools where kids work with animals go on hikes and involve themselves other activities like farming. It for sure helps. Not every kid is meant to be sitting and sponging up the teacher's lesson.

in the vanguard said...

"And yes, unfortunately the disadvantages of ADD do get aggravated by many of the goodies, refinement, etc..ie, highly processed food... "

wrong - these are CAUSES, not aggravation adders!


"so the ADD turns the child into a depressed, angry, confused and very vulnerable teenager"

wrong - the parental, school or home environment, besides the bad food, are what cause the problems, not the ADD. Heaven help those children who have to be drugged because of thinking like this.

Devorah said...

Vanguard: you wrote ''wrong - the parental, school or home environment, besides the bad food, are what cause the problems, not the ADD. ''

So maybe you can explain to us all why a family of, say, 6 children.... all brought up in the same way, with the same biological parents, the same food, the same environment.....
but ONLY ONE OF THEM has ADD.

Daniela said...

Yes of course we all can see that some (a few) overconcerned parents are making things worse, continuously bringing kids to doctors, and the like. There is something I am curious about: what would you have done with the generation of people who returned, you know whence, and who were obviously pretty out of whack, or should I say, full-fledged psychopaths.... and yet, had children and raised them. You don't think their children had to put up with "a few" difficulties? Well guess what, they did. So will the children of those parents you mention. That said, where are you, when it comes to help these parents and these children? How many times have you offered help or the oldie but goodie hard cash (for a few days' vacation, a gift, a new dress for mama, and all the stuff that eases the problems in life, but that sometimes, these families can't afford or are afraid they can't afford?) How often have you offered your time and took these kids away from a few hours, so that both them and their parents get a break? How often have you used your expertise with words, to turn what was going to be a miserable afternoon e.g. at the supermarket or restaurant, and put a smile on everyone's face? Oh my!!! How comes I have the terrible suspicion that some people are only capable of blabbing, blaming, and insulting? But sure, everyone will quickly prove me wrong....

Devorah said...

Who is blabbing, blaming and insulting?

Daniela said...

Those who will not hesitate reducing a family in shards, with a broken teenager (who will not be happy if expelled from a long list of schools, unless he/she is a very tough kid and it is his decision to decline medication), possibly a divorce, problems for the other siblings (because let's face it, we are all scared of something that runs in the family) and all this, so that they can be so very righteous and superior to those who avail themselves of pharmaceutics that exist for a reason.

Notice I have not written "so that pills are avoided". These people usually vomit advice which they know is unfeasible, and later, whatever problem the child has (who does not have problems?) blame the parents who medicated, with their usual "I told you so".

I have no respect for such people. I do have respect for people who make a difference. Would you like to hear one such story?

Devorah said...

Yes go ahead Daniela...

btw Israel Rising, I agree, the farm schools are the way to go, I wish there were hundreds of them all over the world.

Daniela said...

Devorah: LOL!! My daredevil children once passed in front of some booth collecting for the handicapped and brain damaged children rehabilitation. To improve donations, they had disabled children on a horse. I stopped right away and gave something, asking if they could ride the horse (can you imagine what unbelievably tame horse it was) because they never had. They rode the horse, however, from their faces it seemed they were sitting upon a bomb. I agree, there should be more opportunities for city children to enjoy a tiny bit of country life :)

Daniela said...

The story is older than me, maybe 1970. There was a mother who had two children, one of them was problematic, or the mother was problematic, does not matter how we describe. Anyway this lady was highly worried, started bringing the child to psychiatrists and neurologists, and the child, who was in elementary school, had been diagnosed with epilepsy. It goes without saying that in the 70s it was incurable. It goes without saying that treatments were highly invalidating, not to mention the social stigma, etc.
Someone who talks too much (a rare case of useful gossip) brought this to the attention of a person who could help. This person befriended a family member and obtained her trust. The mother, she never met.
Then one day, this person showed up to school, looking like a harmless old lady, with the family member who had come with an excuse (house keys to give to the girl). The "old peasant" said to the teacher in a meek voice, "Am I disturbing if I come in? Otherwise, I can wait in the corridor. I have a soft spot for schools: I wished very much to study, but I could not...." Teacher said right away: "Please, come in."
Once in the classroom, the false illitterate told the teacher: "You know, I am so worried about X (the child). You that are such a motherly figure, I am sure you can give advice. Forgive me for my rudeness, but I have known these two girls since birth...." (She never had seen either of them before. LOL).
The teacher's answer? Totally unbelievable. She said: "I have a sister who is a pharmacist. When her son is struggling with school, she gives him a syrup..." (What a fool! The child is supposed to have epilepsy!! What has this to do with some syrup which is supposed to aid concentration and which anyway, we all know they are worthless! And a pharmacist should know perfectly! But this is what she said.) The fake old lady said to the family member: "Come here! listen. May be we have a solution. Please write down the name of this medicine. We will go to the pharmacy right away! Thank you! Thank you!"
They went indeed to buy that very morning, and threw most of it in the toilet. Filled the container with clean tap water, and the family member convinced the mother, so, this "medicine" was regularly administered to the child.
The (nonjewish) child has been fine. She did well in school, and afterwards, has been one of the beautiful models you saw on magazines, in the years before Photoshop; then she entered the showbusiness. A beauty, with a successful life. Nobody, not the doctors, nor anyone else, asked "what happened to epilepsy in this patient? Did we diagnose wrong? Was it a miracle?" It was just forgotten.

Daniela said...

So, I have NO doubt (NO DOUBT) that some kids are misdiagnosed, especially given that ADHD does not have very many measurable markers (epilepsy does). I have no doubt many parents are worried about healthy children and make things worse. I have no doubt that our schools do not help. I have no doubt that a good neurologist or psychiatrist prescribes a placebo first (I am told it works in about half of the patients) and while most do, not everyone does.

But I also have no doubt it does not help to scream "do not medicate". It would not have helped to scream "idiot" at the mother and the teacher, not even in the above case, where they obviously were. (Most parents of ADHD are not like this, including those who are too worried, but are not fools). It does help to refer them to a medical professional, perhaps it may even help to tell the doctor your doubts, but that's it. And, people will find their equilibrium even if they take drugs, we can not judge people for their choices, even if they "only" take them to make life easier, even if we would not take (or give to our child) in a similar situation.

As for the Torah, it says to find an excellent medical doctor, and if we are not sure, to ask a second opinion, but then, to do what they say. People who are not doctors (e.g. "internet rabbis") should not give medical advice, period.

Daniela said...

PS May be someone is wondering what clinical symptoms did this young "epileptic" have. It appears that (even after having been labeled as epileptic, and no doubt believing it) the child did not have many symptoms; she complained generically about discomfort. When asked to specify, she explained that she felt all the time her heart beating.....

Yes it would be a joke if it were not a tragedy. But please consider there is a full spectrum: from this sort of situations, all the way to people who need drugs, and refuse them at the price of their own health, and sometimes their life. Both are equally dangerous, there are no shortcuts and no magic bullets, we have to trust upon a careful and caring medical professional and do the best we can.