Celiac Disease. Sleep Apnea. Vision-Disorders. Blood-Sugar Imbalances. Anemia. Auditory-Processing Disorder. Food Intolerances. Emotional Abuse. What do all of these things have in common? They all have the potential of being diagnosed as AD/HD. AD/HD is the most common childhood disorder diagnosed in Western countries today, and has been publicized, researched and debated by doctors across the continents of the world. Although much is known about the classic symptoms of AD/HD, little is known about what causes the symptoms to begin with.
Brain scans, neurological examinations and psychological testing have all resulted in different conclusions in varying groups of children. The wide-ranging research has shown, through hundreds of medical, educational and psychological studies, that the symptoms of AD/HD present because of a variety of issues. This means that not all ADD or ADHD is the same. It may not be just one diagnosis, but can potentially be caused by various, or even a combination of various factors, and those factors can cause the child to present with the symptoms of AD/HD. AD/HD has gripped the educated, Western world, almost as if there were a plague or an uncontrollable virus abound, affecting the level of learning, focus, and impulsiveness in otherwise normal-looking children.
Every individual child in our blossoming, Jewish families is a precious, potential Torah scholar, teacher, doctor or business person, and as parents we await the opportunity to teach our children about the wonders of the world, as the Torah sees it. All of a sudden, we are distressed by seeing every other family presenting with an ADD or AD/HD child, Jewish summer camps with long lines of children queuing up for medications related to the disorder, and parents running to support groups on how to deal with the frustrations created by the hyperactive child in their home. Maybe we are next?
Let’s take a different example of a common disorder and how it is diagnosed. Three different people come to the doctor with a stomach ache and vomiting. All three have the same symptoms; all three are in bed and moaning. Yet one may have a 24-hour virus, another may have diphtheria and require an anti-biotic, and another may have a serious disease that requires an operation. Yet, they all had similar symptoms! The key word here is similar. Not all AD/HD or dyslexic children have exactly the same series of symptoms. Now let’s look at a child with celiac disease that may present with AD/HD symptoms. His problem gaining weight might never have been addressed. His major nutritional deficiencies, due to his gluten-related disorder, make it impossible for him to relax and learn properly. However, it is the symptoms that are emotionally upsetting to the parents or teachers that are presented in the doctor’s office, because the child is unruly and unfocused. The parents have no idea that these problems are related. Due to the fact that doctors’ offices are usually dealing with immediate illness and emergencies, not all pediatricians are able to spend the extra time discovering all of the various symptoms the child may have that would possibly result in a differential diagnosis. The parents are referred to a psychologist and neurologist. Finding nothing else wrong with the child, other than the AD/HD diagnosis, they give their approval that this indeed is the correct path to take—to be treated medically for AD/HD.
Each child is as different as his facial features. Whether the child has an undetected disorder that prevents him from falling into deep sleep, and therefore is never completely rested during the day; whether the muscles in his two eyes do not function in tandem with each other, and therefore the child does not have proper reading skills; whether a child’s parents have difficulty controlling their household, and their love is without proper borders which makes the child anti-authority; all of these issues would change if the parents, together with the child, were sent to proper medical, psychological, nutritional and educational options, to get proper tests or therapies. This would mean dealing with the AD/HD diagnosis as a multi-modal issue that crosses many disciplines. What if, we take the case of a child who is suffering, not from one, but from three of these challenges? A vision-disorder, a sleep disorder and celiac? If he is remains undiagnosed for any of these disorders, he could very likely end up being a severe AD/HD case—a classic. He could therefore remain undiagnosed for these other core issues for many more years, the parents thinking that the problem is being taken care of. Yet, the question is: has it?
THIS WEEK: Take a good look at your difficult child. Is he not playing ball like others his age? Does he seem to be uninterested in regular activities? Is he highly intelligent but doesn’t do homework? Think again—he might need you to delve more deeply into his world. He might need you to get up and search elsewhere for a proper diagnosis.
Wondering where you can get help? Please click here to learn more about The Right Track-B'Derech HaMelech's AD/HD and dyslexia evaluation and treatment program.