Portsmouth School Board’s ADHD Flier Draws Fire

A few acronyms spelled out for you that appear in the article so you’re not lost in alphabet soup:

  • ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a national non-profit, tax-exempt (Section 501 (c) (3) ) organization providing education, advocacy and support for individuals with AD/HD.
  • AMA: American Medical Association
  • AAP: American Academy of Pediatrics

Portsmouth School Board’s ADHD flier draws fire, by Cheryl Ross, The Virginian-Pilot

Last month, the School Board sent a warning to parents about the “harmful effects” of drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Much of the flier’s information was taken from the Internet, including from a Web site run by a group founded by the Church of Scientology.

This week, six national organizations and eight local groups sent a letter requesting that the School Board retract the flier and send a new one stating that ADHD is a disease that requires treatment.

Read the Full Article Here

My first reaction when reading this article was – So THAT’S why ADHD kids aren’t getting the help they need! It’s the parents’ fault for listening to those pesky doctors! There’s a very very fine line between the school/school board being involved with your child… Getting them the help they need, accommodating their disabilities, and giving them an education vs medical opinions. Guess what, school board? I do not see an M.D. after your name!

In recent years, some parents, doctors and researchers have said that too many children are being misdiagnosed with the disease and, as a result, have been over medicated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, about 4.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD by a health care professional, and about 2.5 million children are being treated with medication.

This is the part where I must tell you parents… GET EDUCATED! If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, talk to the doctors, get second opinions, do your research on both the disease and the medications, and then make your decisions. You take the decision into your hands on how you want your child’s disability treated. Do what YOU think is best for your child after you are armed and educated with all the pertinent information.

The Portsmouth School Board began discussing ADHD at the urging of long time member Elizabeth Daniels…

…In the early 1980s, Daniels said she cared for an 11 -year-old girl whom doctors said was hyperactive. She said she believes the child was being treated with Ritalin, which made the girl groggy. When the child was taken off the drug, Daniels said she was alert and happier.

I’m going to have to allow my inner snark to come out here… Of COURSE your anecdotal evidence of caring for (notice we don’t have a time frame or context of the “caring”) one child is enough to disseminate potentially harmful information to all the parents.

Daniels said she and the Virginia School Boards Association… turned to the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics for information about ADHD. The organizations did not respond to the board’s questions…

…However, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said she answered the association’s questions in November 2006. Kraft sent The Virginian-Pilot a copy of the November-dated e-mail to the state School Boards association.

Hmmmmm… That flier is sounding more and more like propaganda when one leaves out the comments of the AMA and AAP.

CHADD has requested that the association send a new flier to school divisions with information stating that ADHD is a disease. Barham said he doesn’t understand why the flier has caused so much controversy. As far as he’s concerned, the matter is closed. “We will not be distributing any more materials on the issue,” he said.

Wow. The CHADD basically says “Hey! We think your flier might have been inaccurate and potentially dangerous to the kids! Please send this info out too!” The school board basically says, “What’s the big deal? No – we’re not sending your info out.” Really gives you the warm fuzzies about this particular district, doesn’t it?

Shackelford [one of the board members who voted against the dissemination] said, “I do not believe that I, as a School Board member who is not a member of the medical profession, have the knowledge or the right to advise parents about any medical or psychiatric issues associated with their children,” she said.

A voice of reason! To bad they didn’t listen to her.

Daniels said… she’s heard about concerns that information in the flier was taken from Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a California-based group with ties to the Church of Scientology.The connection to the church, Daniels said, is irrelevant.

Oh. My. God. Someone explain to me why the connection to a church that has taken a VERY aggressive and public stance against using drugs for anything and the entire psychology/psychiatry field as hoax entirely as “irrelevant.”

Martha Scalf said she was angered by the flier that her 11-year-old son, who suffers from ADHD, brought home from Churchland Elementary. “The things that were on there were unbelievable,” she said. Scalf said she has no problem with opposing viewpoints but children should not have been given access to the flier’s contents. The flier was folded and not sealed in an envelope, she said.

Scalf said her child’s pediatrician will discuss the flier’s contents with him.

Mommy, why am I taking something bad? I thought you said that these were the good kind of drugs. Is the doctor wrong?

CHADD representatives… want the School Board to “immediately distribute a flier to every household with a school-age child clarifying the facts about ADHD as supported by the research cited in the attached fact sheet.”

The fact sheet states that ADHD is real, that treatment for it is effective, and that failing to treat it can have severe consequences.

Stuckwisch said it is up to the School Board to decide how to respond to the request. Bailey said Wednesday she was unaware of CHADD’s request.

That sound you just heard was the school board covering up their ears and singing “lalalalalalalala… I can’t heeeearrr you…”

This whole article illustrates why we as parents need to advocate for our children. Yes, it’s possibly to be incorrectly or overly medicated. Yes, it’s possible to be misdiagnosed. But there’s peace about that when you know that you have don’t everything that you need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen. Advocate for schools and school administrations to be educated on mental illness. Educate yourselves, so when you come upon this kind of idiocy you can still do what you think is best for your kid. Communicate with your child about society’s ignorance in terms they can understand, and communicate to your child that you know what you’re doing as their parent (even if you feel as if you’re drowning.) That way when something like this happens, you can be sure you’re on the right path for your family, and the winds of stupidity can’t sway you.