The “organic movement” has roots (pardon the pun) in studies about harmful effects of pesticides. Pesticides Linked to ADHD Symptoms. A new study (conducted by Canadian researchers used data collected from nearly 1,140 children participating in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) suggests more bad news about pesticides. There seems to be a link between level of exposure to pesticides and the development of ADHD symptoms. This MSN Childhood Health article (by Leah Zerbe Rodale) states that “this study is the first to look at everyday exposure levels in children from around the country. And as it turns out, U.S. kids are exposed to harmful levels of pesticides in their food, day in and day out.” The take-home message is: avoid using pesticides around your own lawn, and–if possible–try to buy organic foods.
Even beyond childhood traits (such as impulsivity, emotional reactivity, hyperactivity, etc), kids’ brains and bodies seem to experience and certainly to express mental discomfort differently than adults. For example, when adults are tired they tend to be lethargic and sleepy. Tired children often become agitated and irritable.
Children with mental illness behave differently than adults with mental illness. When adults are depressed, they tend to be characterized by sadness, slowing down, and gloominess. Depressed children tend to be grumpy—not sad—and they may have extra energy and agitation. While adults with ADHD are usually just restless, most children with ADHD cannot sit still for more than a few moments. Adults with PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) usually use words to relive trauma, while younger children with PTSD show their trauma in play and behavior. Adults with Bipolar Disorder tend to have discrete “cycles” of moods that last for long periods of times. But children with Bipolar Disorder tend to have many mood changes each day.
Helping children with mental illness hinges on the understanding that most children do not have the vocabulary or concepts to accurately describe their internal experiences. They almost never know “why” they behave as they do. They are often unaware of how events link together—for example, how an argument with mom in the morning led to poor test performance in their first period class. Children tend to be more resilient than others would suppose, and each child has strengths and resources available to them on their road to a happier, more fulfilling life.
For more information about childhood and adolescent mental illness, visit the website for National Institute of Mental Health.
As ADHD becomes better understood, many resources have become available. The most succinct, accurate, and effective resources that Dr. Weller has used include:
- www.kolbe.com. This website has evaluations that folks with ADHD (children and adults) have found very helpful. Evaluations clarify each person’s unique modus operandi in dealing with the world. It is a strength-based model that can help families better understand how to make the most of ADHD.
- “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood,” by Dr. Edward Hallowell. Dr. Hallowell is a national expert in ADHD (he calls it ADD) and his books are easy-to-read, strength-based, and practical. They suggest cutting edge and real world strategies to manage ADHD.
- “Overcoming ADHD: Helping your child become calm, engaged, and focused—without a pill,” by Stanley Greenspan. This book is a must-have for parents of children with ADHD. Even if children are on medications, it offers lifestyle and relationship suggestions to optimize the ADHD family experience.