What a great opportunity to showcase my first book, Wit’s End!
Source: Internet Business Law Services
Bullying and, in particular, cyber-bullying is becoming a frequent practice among the American youth. Incidents are reaching such daunting results that state legislatures are rapidly adopting measures. For instance, Florida Legislature adopted an anti-bullying, including cyber-bullying, law on April 2008. The law is called “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act” (Fla. Stat. section 1006.147), named after Jeffrey Johnston, a 15-year-old boy who committed suicide after being the object of bullying, including Internet bullying, for two years. This new Florida law prohibits bullying and harassment of any public K-12 student or employee, and requires public schools to adopt measures to protect students and employees from the physical and psychological effects of bullying and harassment.
The Florida Senate, quoting to a report by SafeYouth.org, stated that “bullying behavior can involve direct attacks, such as hitting, threatening or intimidating, maliciously teasing or taunting, name-calling, making sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings, or more subtle, indirect attacks such as spreading rumors or encouraging others to reject or exclude someone.” It also stated that bullies are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of a crime by age 24, with 60% of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.
Thus, this Florida law is considered a safety measure for schools and the Florida community. Section 1006.147, titled “Bullying and Harassment Prohibited,” proscribes bullying and harassment in Florida’s K-12 public educational institutions; in any educational program or activity conducted by an educational institution; or through the use of data or software accessed by a computer, computer system, or computer network of a K-12 public educational institution. Hence, using the school e-mail network, even while at home, to bully or harass other students is prohibited by this Florida law. The law expressly defines “bullying” as the act of systematically or chronologically inflicting physical harm or emotional distress on a student. The law also provides examples of conducts that may result in bullying:
2. Social exclusion;
6. Physical violence;
8. Sexual or racial harassment;
9. Public humiliation; or
10. Destruction of property.
Harassment is defined as any verbal, written, or physical conduct that threatens, insults, or dehumanizes public school students or employees. Written harassment includes those committed through electronic means and the use of computer software. The conduct must be sufficient to place the student or employee in reasonable fear of harm against him or his property; and sufficient to interfere with the student”s school performance, opportunities, or benefits. The Florida anti-bullying law also penalizes those who induce or coerce others to bully or harass public school students or employees. Students, parents, volunteers, or employees that promptly and in good faith report bullying acts will be exempted from civil cause of actions against them.
The Florida anti-bullying law also mandates each school district to adopt a code of conduct against bullying and harassment by December 1, 2008. This code of conduct must protect all students regardless of their status under the law but the school districts are authorized to create student categories when drafting their school policies. In any event, the code of conduct must include a general prohibition of bullying and harassment; a definition of these terms; an expected student conduct and behavior; description of the consequences of falsely and wrongfully accusing others of bullying and harassment; the procedures for reporting bullying and harassment incidents, including anonymous reports; a procedure for the prompt investigation of these acts; a procedure to determine whether the acts are within the district school system; a procedure to notify parents and criminal authorities; a procedure to refer victims to counseling; among others.
The Florida Department of Education affords an additional protection for victims of bullying and harassment by, first, monitoring district school activities, including transportation, through permanent collection of data (24 hours a day, 7 days a week); and second, enhancing the School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting System (SESIR). This program allows district schools to report bullying activities and conducts an annual database management workshop.
The Florida anti-bullying and harassment law is definitely well received and the first intent to control youth behavior, including Internet behavior. Yet, questions arise as to the consequences incurred when violating this law. It is not clear under the text of this law whether its violation merely includes school disciplinary actions or whether subsequent criminal actions will be sought. This is an important question whose answer is yet to come.
Law and sociology have been close partners for centuries; another important question is where are the parents parenting? A sociological answer to this question might take us to the genesis of most bullying and harassment problems which is essential for state legislatures and school officials.
Help for Parents of Out-of-control Teens
Resources to help families in this critical time
(SOUTH FLORIDA)—In 2000, a teenager at a residential treatment center was locked-up in an isolation box for 17 hours with no windows, heat or air conditioning because she had tried to help a girl who was having a seizure. Later, that same teenager got food poisoning and was rushed to the ER (unbeknownst to her mother) because sewage had contaminated the food she was eating and sunk into the carpet of the living areas.
These are just some of the experiences that Sue Scheff’s daughter, Ashlyn, experienced while enrolled in a residential treatment program, supposed to be helping her cope with emotional and behavioral problems while building up her self-esteem. Furious about how Ashlyn had been treated, Scheff posted her experiences online about the program and was promptly sued for libel. Scheff won by a long shot.
Now parents can read Scheff’s story and learn from her mistakes in Wit’s End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your OUT-OF-CONTROL TEEN (HCI Books, July 2008). The book is the result of her years of effort to educate parents and provide them with the proper resources to care for their own difficult teen.
“I was desperate to find good help for my daughter, but this program ended up making things worse,” says Scheff. “My book provides positive, prescriptive help for families who want to put their children on the road to a safe, healthy adulthood. It is imperative parents do their homework and Wit’s End can offer a convenient outline to get them started.”
Parents doing their homework becomes even more important in light of a 2007 study released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office which uncovered thousands of allegations of abuse, some of which involved death, at residential treatment programs across the country and in American-owned and American-operated facilities abroad between the years 1990 and 2007.
For parents who need one-on-one guidance, Scheff founded Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), an advocacy group that not only researches residential treatment centers and other teen help programs around the world, but helps educate parents to choose which facilities are best suited to match their child’s needs.
Sue Scheff is a parent advocate and the founder of Parent’s Universal Resource Experts, Inc. She has been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts, including: 20/20, The Rachel Ray Show, ABC News, CBC News: Sunday Morning, CNN Headline News, Fox News, BBC Talk Radio, National Public Radio and The New York Times.
Current Online Trends
Online transparency with regards to one’s personal life has become more and more pervasive over the past few years. With the evolution of the Internet and its capabilities has come the ability to find out almost anything about someone online. There are some specific venues that can be particularly dangerous for teens because of the information these sites allow and encourage them to post about themselves. Parents should be educated on these sites and on what they offer their users. As a parent, you don’t necessarily have to restrict your teen from using them, but you should definitely know what they’re used for and who uses them. On this page we’ll provide you with information about some of the most popular sites teenagers are using today.
- Chat Rooms and Message Boards
- Instant Messaging Clients
- Online Video Gaming
- Photobucket and Flickr
How It Works
MySpace is an online social networking site driven by music and housing nearly 50,000,000 members of all ages around the world. It is, in fact, the most popular website in the world. With all of the negative press surrounding the site in recent months, it is important to understand the facts, dangers and myths being passed from the media to parents and families.
Registering for a MySpace account is free and requires only a legitimate email address to activate. Currently, the registrant must be 14 years or older, however, no method is in place to verify birthdates. Upon successful registration, the new user can add a profile picture, photo album, bio and contact information along with their interests and also, where they go to school. Profiles also include a blog, or journal, where the user can write anything they wish for their friends to see.
A MySpace profile revolves around friends, or a collection of other MySpace profiles belonging to other people grouped and linked to and from the user’s page. Most of the communication happening between MySpace users is with their respective friends. Finding friends is easy. Once the user has set up their profile, they are able to use the site’s search function to seek out classmates, friends and celebrities by name, email or screen name. Once the user has found a profile, they can send that person a “Friend Request”. The next time the person logs on to their profile, they are notified of this request and can either approve or deny it. Users can also send friend requests while browsing profile of the user they’d like to befriend, using a button in place on every profile.
Once the user has sent and received friend requests that have been approved, they have created their network. Users continue to add friends as time goes on, and can remove friends at any time. These friends are allowed to place comments on the user’s profile, which are viewable to any person visiting the user’s profile. They can also send private messages through the site’s email system, which are seen only by the user.
While most activity on MySpace is between friends, profiles are public domain and can be viewed by any person surfing the web. Because of the obvious risks involved with this, MySpace’s administration has imposed many restrictions to secure users. In order to use the site’s search function, the searcher must be registered with the site. In addition, any unregistered user is may view a profile, but cannot view the user’s photo album. While, as mentioned earlier, MySpace registrants must be 14 years old, users under 16 years old must have a private profile. This means that surfers who are not on the user’s friend list only see the user’s screen name, location and picture when visiting the profile. All other information is hidden. Of course, this security restriction is flawed – MySpace has no way of validating the actual age of the user. To provide higher security to any user, MySpace allows privacy for any profile at the user’s request.
Talking to your Teen
It is a common fact that most teens, whether you know it or not, are MySpace members and actively nurture their profile. Most likely, they share contact information, pictures and thoughts with friends from school and other activities. Most, in fact, view their profile as a status symbol.
As a parent, the entire concept of MySpace may be confusing or worrisome. It is understandable that you may feel inclined to completely ban your teen from the site! The truth is, however, that with the Internet being as accessible as it is, it is possible that they will access the site from other locations, other than your home. Even if you force your teen to cancel their membership, it is entirely possible that they will create a new profile and continue to use it. As prevalent as Myspace is through the teenage culture, parents must communicate with their teens and come to a compromise.
- Suggest that your teen, regardless of his/her age, keeps his/her profile set to “Private” and leave out information regarding their location.
- Remind your teen that pictures uploaded to their MySpace profile can be viewed and downloaded by others. Suggest a picture limit and discuss the appropriate types of pictures he/she should be sharing with the world.
- While most teens will keep their friends down to only people they know or bands/celebrities, some will allow strangers to add them as friends. Make it very clear that anyone can have a Myspace, and include fake information. Have an open conversation about Internet predators and how serious the risk is. Don’t use scare tactics or manipulation; be truthful. Talk about current cases being reported through the media and how he/she feels.
- Rather than spying anonymously on your child’s MySpace Profile, ask him/her for permission to see it. Their privacy is very important to them, and they will feel violated if you come to them with print outs of their comments and blogs. Voice your concerns; try to explain your fears of the risks involved. If they understand your position, they may be more inclined to prove that they are being careful and safe.
- If problems still occur, require your teen to give you access to their account login and password.
Chat Rooms and Message Boards
Today’s Internet is becoming more and more interactive. Most television stations, celebrities and musicians have websites with pictures, information and more importantly, message board communities. Sue Scheff and other parents at P.U.R.E. have also met parents who have used message boards to communicate with other parents.
In the early days of the Internet, many people used chat rooms to message each other nearly instantly. Now that Instant Messenger services such as AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger are available, chat rooms have become nearly extinct.
Message boards are different from chat rooms. In a chat room, users register and talk to other users in nearly real time through an interactive client on a website dedicated to only chatting. A message board is a part of a larger site, such as the website for TV channel MTV, and consists of a forum for registered users to leave messages, or posts about the site’s subject. These messages do not use an interactive client for real time display and reply, but instead work as a virtual cork board for messages to be left, read, and replied to by other users. In both cases, anyone can register for an account with little to no validation, and any member can communicate with any member.
Many teens enjoy visiting message boards on the sites of their favorite celebrities, and participate in conversation with other fans. Most message boards have moderators; hired by the site’s administrators to “police” the behavior of posters. These moderators are able to delete inappropriate posts and ban violating members.
While chat rooms and message boards can provide a great platform upon which teens can come together and share information and experiences, they are also dangerous when it comes to taking responsibility for actions. In real life, when we say certain things or exhibit certain behavior, we are aware of the consequences of those actions. We know that what we do is being showcased in public and we therefore, for the most part, censor ourselves in order to avoid reprimand and disagreement from peers. In reality, we are responsible for our words and actions and own them on a daily basis, whether we are at work, school, or just hanging out with friends.
The Internet gives us a medium upon which we often feel we can act in any way we please without having to face any repercussions. Though this essentially isn’t true, teens are at times lured in by the anonymity of the web, enticed by the idea that they can say anything to anyone without consequences. In a sense, the Internet takes away the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own actions. This is perhaps one of the most appealing facets of it, yet also one of the riskiest. Part of maturing has to do with being able to recognize faults and mistakes and having to make up for them in the best ways possible. If we remove the idea of accountability, then we also take away a teen’s ability to mentally and emotionally develop fully.
Instant Messaging Clients
Many teens today are using Instant Messaging Clients, interactive, real time chatting interfaces, which are downloaded and accessed directly from the computer’s hard drive. There are 6 main companies providing this service: Microsoft (MSN Instant Messenger), AOL (AIM Instant Messenger) Yahoo (Yahoo Instant Messenger), Skype, ICQ and Google (Gmail email messenger). In any case, the client can be logged in to with the user’s ID and password. They can then send “instant messages” back and forth between friends, who must be added by the user.
Because these clients are contained on your home computer, it is easy to keep an eye on your teen’s activity. Often, teens will use instant messengers to talk with their friends much like they would over the telephone. They can talk to many other users at the same time, and have conversations between groups of people. It is generally safe, especially when the computer is kept in a visible and safe place. Parents who are concerned about teens using instant messengers while they are home alone might allow the installation of the software only on the computer’s administrative account, which can be password protected.
Online Video Gaming
As more and more American households purchase home computers and game systems such as the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, kids, teens and parents are getting in to gaming. For many families, game systems are shared and can be an enjoyable family activity. Some teens enjoy spending time with brain-intensive games made for solo play. With the new generation of gaming systems and PC’s, players are even able to log on to the Internet and play games with fellow gaming strangers around the world. While many are able to have healthy relationships with video games, too many teens are finding themselves stuck inside this virtual reality, especially when it comes to online, multi-player games.
Because there have been numerous articles and websites published on the popular games out today, we won’t go in to details on titles here. If you are looking for information on certain games, we suggest Ask About Games , a site complied of rating and game information just for parents.
Facebook has perhaps become one of the most, if not the most, popular social networking site on the Net. Facebook experiences hundreds of thousands of sign-ups per day. It was developed by a college student, and is run largely by young people, so it’s always updating and keeping up with current trends. On this forum, users create a profile with their information on it. They have the option to post a photo of themselves, provide contact information, showcase religious and political views, favorite music, movies, and books, and even create photo albums.
The social aspect of Facebook is its most enticing feature, as it allows users to keep in touch with friends via several different applications. A user may add someone as a friend and that person must confirm that he or she is a friend. The ways to communicate and have your voice heard are ten-fold. For one, Facebook features an application called a “wall,” or the section on each person’s profile that allows his or her friends to make comments. Comments are largely not monitored by Facebook, so wall comments can often be obscene and contain vulgarity or references to other profane material. In addition to the wall, Facebook has also introduced “Facebook Chat,” an instant messenger service a user can utilize while logged in to Facebook. The site also allows its users to send and receive messages from each other, just as an email client would.
Like any online social network, Facebook can and does pose problems for teens if they aren’t careful. It is open to anyone, so the clientele spans across many age groups, schools, and other networks. However, Facebook does offer privacy options, and parents should inform their child of the dangers of not employing these privacy settings. There are settings that can make it so that only a user’s friends can view his or her profile. According to one’s preferences, he or she can set his privacy options so the profile is as protected as possible. As long as these settings are in use, Facebook is a safe and friendly way to keep in touch with friends.
Photobucket and Flickr
Photobucket and Flickr are two websites that allow users to upload photos and share them with other users. They can be categorized under the social network grouping because they permit members to make comments and, much like Facebook and Myspace, add friends. Users are also encouraged to make comments on other peoples’ photos. Photobucket and Flickr are potentially less dangerous than other actual social networks because their main purpose isn’t to create connections between users; rather, the main goal is to present an online platform where people can host all of their digital photos in a neat and organized fashion. Sharing and commenting between friends is merely an option of both services. However, sometimes, teens will join the site solely for displaying party pictures or photos of them essentially testing the limits of their adolescence. Again, privacy settings are the key to preventing these types of dangerous situations from occurring.
Both Photobucket and Flickr offer their users privacy settings like those featured by Facebook and Myspace. Flickr’s “Privacy and Permissions” page allows a member to decide who can download and share their photos and videos, who can print their photos, and who can blog their material. It also allows users to decide if they want their profile or photos to appear in searches. Flickr’s privacy options are extensive and, if used to their extent, can provide a secure environment on which teenagers can safely post and share their media.
Photobucket’s privacy settings are a bit less extensive than Flickr’s, but they can still provide a good deal of protection nonetheless. The “Album Settings” section allows a user to decide whether or not to make an album public or private. If the member chooses the private setting, that profile will not be made available on any Photobucket search and will not be viewable by anyone but that person’s friends. Both of these sites can be perfectly safe for teenage use if used in the correct way.
Kids today have much more societal pressure put upon them than their parents generation did, and the widespread availability of drugs like methamphetamines and the “huffing” trend (which uses common household chemicals as drugs) can turn recreational use of a relatively harmless gateway drug into a severe or fatal addiction without warning.
The danger of gateway drugs increases in combination with many prescription medications taken by teens today. These dangerous side effects may not be addressed by your child’s pediatrician if your child is legally too young to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Adderrall, Strattera, Zoloft and Concerta can be very dangerous when mixed with recreational drugs and alcohol. Combining some prescription medications with other drugs can often negate the prescription drug’s effectiveness, or severely increase the side effects of the drug being abused. For example, a 2004 study by Stanford University found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC, frequently acted as a mental depressant as well as a physical depressant. If your child is currently on an anti-depressant medication like Prozac or Zoloft, marijuana use can counterbalance their antidepressant effects.
Other prescription anti depressants and anti psychotics can also become severely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. This is why is imperative that you as a parent must familiarize yourself with any prescription medications your child is taking and educate your child of the dangers of mixing their prescription drugs with other harmful drugs- even if you don’t believe your child abuses drugs or alcohol.
Marijuana – Why It is More Dangerous Than You Think
Parents who smoked marijuana as teenagers may see their child’s drug use as a harmless rite of passage, but with so many new and dangerous designer drugs making their way into communities across the country, the potential for marijuana to become a gateway to more dangerous drugs for your child should not be taken lightly.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug by both teens and adults. The drug is more commonly smoked, but can also be added to baked goods like cookies or brownies. Marijuana which is ingested orally can be far more potent than marijuana that is smoked, but like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other chronic conditions of the lungs. Just because it is “all natural” does not make it any safer for your lungs.
Marijuana is also a depressant. This means the drug slows down the body’s functions and the messages the body sends to the brain. This is why many people who are under the influence of marijuana (or “stoned”) they are often sluggish or unmotivated.
Marijuana can also have psychological side effects, both temporary and permanent. Some common psychological side effects of marijuana are paranoia, confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, panic, anxiety, detachment from reality, and nausea. While these symptoms alone do not sound all that harmful, put in the wrong situation, a teen experiencing any of these feelings may act irrationally or dangerously and can potentially harm themselves or others. In more severe cases, patients who abuse marijuana can develop severe long-term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Tobacco – Just Because It Is Legal Doesn’t Mean It Is Safe
While cigarettes and tobacco are considered “legal”, they are not legal for teens to posses or smoke until they are 18. Still, no matter the age of your child, smoking is a habit you should encourage them to avoid, whether they can smoke legally or not.
One of the main problems with cigarettes is their addictive properties. Chemicals like nicotine are added to tobacco to keep the smoker’s body craving more, thus insuring customer loyalty. This is extremely dangerous to the smoker, however, as smoking has repeatedly proven to cause a host of ailments, including lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchial infection, asthma and mouth cancer- just to name a few.
In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain over 4000 other chemicals, including formaldehyde (a poisonous compound used in some nail polishes and to preserve corpses), acetone (used in nail polish remover to dissolve paint) carbon monoxide (responsible for between 5000 to 6000 deaths annually in its “pure” form), arsenic (found in rat poison), tar (found on paved highways and roads), and hydrogen cyanide (used to kill prisoners sentenced to death in “gas chambers”).
Cigarettes can also prematurely age you, causing wrinkles and dull skin, and can severely decay and stain teeth.
A new trend in cigarette smoke among young people are “bidi’s”, Indian cigarettes that are flavored to taste like chocolate, strawberry, mango and other sweets. Bidi’s are extremely popular with teens as young as 12 and 13. Their sweet flavors and packaging may lead parents to believe that they aren’t “real” cigarettes or as dangerous as brand-name cigarettes, but in many cases bidi’s can be worse than brand name cigarettes, because teens become so enamored with the flavor they ingest more smoke than they might with a name brand cigarette.
Another tobacco trend is “hookah’s” or hookah bars. A hookah is an ornate silver or glass water pipe with a fabric hoses or hoses used to ingest smoke. Hookahs are popular because many smokers can share one hookah at the same time. However, despite this indirect method of ingesting tobacco smoke through a hose, hookah smoking is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.
The Sobering Effects of Alcohol on Your Teen
Alcohol is another substance many parents don’t think they need to worry about. Many believe that because they don’t have alcohol at home or kept their alcohol locked up, their teens have no access to it, and stores or bars will not sell to minors. Unfortunately, this is not true. A recent study showed that approximately two-thirds of all teens who admitted to drinking alcohol said they were able to purchase alcohol themselves. Teens can also get alcohol from friends with parents who do not keep alcohol locked up or who may even provide alcohol to their children.
Alcohol is a substance that many parents also may feel conflicted about. Because purchasing and consuming alcohol is legal for most parents, some parents may not deem it harmful. Some parents believe that allowing their teen to drink while supervised by an adult is a safer alternative than “forcing” their teen to obtain alcohol illegally and drinking it unsupervised. In theory, this does sound logical, but even under adult supervision alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous for growing teens. Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association recently testified that even light alcohol consumption in late childhood and adolescence can cause permanent brain damage in teens. Alcohol use in teens is also linked with increased depression, ADD, reduced memory and poor academic performance.
In combination with some common anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, the effects of just one 4 oz glass of wine can be akin to that of multiple glasses, causing the user to become intoxicated much faster than someone not on anti depressants. Furthermore, because of the depressant nature of alcohol, alcohol consumption by patients treated with anti-depressants can actually counteract the anti-depressant effect and cause the patient sudden overwhelming depression while the alcohol is in their bloodstream. This low can continue to plague the patient long after the alcohol has left their system.
Because there are so many different types of alcoholic beverage with varying alcohol concentration, it is often difficult for even of-age drinkers to gauge how much is “too much”. For an inexperienced teen, the consequences can be deadly. Binge drinking has made headlines recently due to cases of alcohol poisoning leading to the death of several college students across the nation. But binge drinking isn’t restricted to college students. Recent studies have shown teens as young as 13 have begun binge drinking, which can cause both irreparable brain and liver damage.
It is a fact that most teenage deaths are associated with alcohol, and approximately 6000 teens die each year in alcohol related automobile accidents. Indirectly, alcohol consumption can severely alter teens’ judgment, leaving them vulnerable to try riskier behaviors like reckless stunts, drugs, or violent behavior. Alcohol and other drugs also slow response time, leaving teenage girls especially in danger of sexual assault. The temporary feeling of being uninhibited can also have damaging future consequences. With the popularity of internet sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens around the country are finding embarrassing and indecent photos of themselves surfacing online. Many of these pictures were taken while the subjects were just joking around, but some were taken while the subjects were drunk or under the influence of drugs. These photos are often incredibly difficult to remove, and can have life altering consequences. Many employers and colleges are now checking networking sites for any reference to potential employees and students, and using them as a basis to accept or decline applicants!
By Sue Scheff
For years we have struggled with ADD/ADHD children and the issues that surround mediciation and the affects it has on the kids. As a parent of an ADHD son, after extensive testing, he was diagnosed ADHD in Kindergarten. Through the years, we tried a variety of medications however always came back to the one that worked best for him. I don’t believe he was over-medicated and neither does he. By freshman year in college, he was medication free.
I was made aware of The Feingold Diet when my son was younger, but as a single mother of two children, it didn’t fit our schedule or my busy routine. Some people may view this as an excuse, but for me, it wasn’t an option I could accomodate. But – that doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable alternative to medications.
Over the years, I have heard from many parents of the success of The Feingold Program as well as recently reviewed “Why My Child Can’t Behave” by Jane Hersey. Understanding how this program works can help parents understand the negative behavior of ADD/ADHD and what triggers it.
If you have a child that has behavioral issues or has been diagnosed ADD/ADHD please take the time to learn more about The Newly Updated Feingold Program that is designed to accomodate the busy lives of families today.
Read this wonderful testimonial from Joshua – I think this sheds light on what the right diet can do for you and your family.
My son, Joshua, was plagued with social and behavioral problems. He was asked to leave two private schools, rejected from several local day care facilities, and finally placed in a program for “severely emotionally handicapped” children and put on medication for ADHD – all before the age of five!
He was in a class of six children and three teachers to deal with the behavioral challenges these children presented. Throughout the years my son was diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), along with traits of obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and mood disorder syndrome. These years proved to be more difficult than I could have ever imagined.
Even before they’re born, parents have so many hopes and desires for their children. I felt as though my dreams had turned to nightmares and it seemed like I’d never wake up.
Even though testing indicated that Joshua was extremely gifted, his emotional and behavioral problems kept him labeled as emotionally handicapped.
During the next seven years he was on three medications, totaling nine pills a day. It seemed necessary to keep him medicated 24 hours a day, every day. Symptoms that were treated with one medicine caused him to have trouble sleeping, so he had to take an additional medication for that, and yet another for the endless anxiety resulting from the issues he faced daily with social and behavioral problems. He had huge problems with opposition, defiance, aggression, anger, and impulsivity. The doctors tried different dosages and combinations of the medicines but without success.
He was kept medicated 24 hours a day and the problems only got worse.
Toward the end of his fourth grade year, Joshua was placed in an outpatient facility for depression, leaning towards suicidal. Children typically attended this facility for a week at the most, just enough time to be evaluated, receive recommendations for therapy, medication, behavior modification and family counseling. However, Joshua’s behavior was such that he continued for five weeks.
None of the many professionals we saw were able to help him.
Time passed and problems remained despite medication and continual counseling. Two other medicines were recommended, in addition to the three he was on, but I couldn’t bring myself to give my ten-year-old 5 different drugs. Towards the end of his fifth grade year he was placed in a children’s psychiatric facility after he threatened to kill others and tried to hurt himself. Joshua had reached the end of his rope.
I was told that I could not see him or call him for the first 24 hours he was at the facility. As I said “good-bye” there was so much hurt behind his beautiful blue eyes, so much uncertainty of “Where do I fit in, why am I like this? When will my life be normal, and when will I feel at peace inside?”
The immense pain I felt for my child left me numb and hopeless. I wanted so badly to take him in my arms, hug him and tell him that everything would be okay, but I didn’t know that to be so. I would go to the ends of the earth for him but felt as though I was already there and didn’t know where to go from here. Despite all the avenues I took, all the endless hours of searching, every year continued to grow darker and darker.
The immense pain for my child left me numb and hopeless.
After several days Joshua was released from the hospital. Since the medicines were not helping, his doctor recommended we remove them all and start on a different regimen. For the remaining weeks of school he was in a homebound program where the teacher came to our home.
The doctor assured me that by weaning Joshua off the medicines slowly there would be no problems with withdrawal. The opposite was true! We went through three weeks of severely out-of-control behavior. Several times Joshua became extremely violent and I came close to calling 911 for help.
His reaction to withdrawal from the many drugs was a nightmare.
Next, I tried allergy treatments at a clinic and they helped somewhat. Still searching, I learned of the Feingold Program and that’s when my son’s recovery began in earnest.[www.feingold.org / (800) 321-3287]
Joshua has a severe behavioral reaction to certain synthetic food additives.
Joshua had traveled down a difficult road filled with hurt, disappointment and fear for as long as he can remember. He lost much of his childhood to this journey, but because of Feingold, Joshua has a new beginning.
Now, at age 17, we are starting our seventh consecutive year that Joshua does not carry the label “emotionally handicapped.” Looking back, our success began when Joshua was in the sixth grade. It was roughly 8 weeks prior to school starting that we began the Feingold diet. Six weeks into the diet we saw dramatic changes in Joshua. Seventh grade went so well that during the annual meeting required for all students that receive “special services,” the school suggested a battery of behavioral testing and classroom observations to determine if Joshua still needed the services and the label that he carried in his file. After thorough testing and review, Joshua’s eight-year special needs folder was permanently closed. He no longer exhibited any signs of needing help in any form. This was truly a victory!
This is the seventh consecutive year Joshua’s teachers have told me he shows respect and cooperation without any opposition. Joshua is finally able to manage his anger when things don’t go his way (this feat alone was like a mountain to conquer).
Joshua no longer has trouble controlling his behavior. He is thriving in school and in all areas of his life.
His teachers view him as pleasant to be around as well as a good student. Joshua is able to remain seated for an extended period, is capable of thinking before acting, and no longer needs behavioral therapy. I no longer receive calls to come pick him up at school because he’s out of control and disruptive. Joshua has been able to attend events through the school or sports where I was not required to stay “just in case there’s a problem.”
Joshua went a total of seven years being medicated 24 hours a day with three medications (totaling 9 pills a day, for 365 days a year) to a healthy diet and absolutely no medicine.
Joshua is finally forming strong friendships. This list could go on but the bottom line is …since Feingold, this is the first time I like my son, and best of all HE likes who he’s become.
Our life finally feels, and is, “normal.” This is what we have both hoped for.
I know my son’s “transformation” did not occur due to maturity, changing schools, peer pressure, a reward system, or anything of the sort. The changes in Joshua came as a result of the simple changes we made in the food we eat.
A few months after we began seeing success on Feingold, Joshua wanted to do what he called “an experiment.” I allowed him to eat the synthetic chemicals (foods containing artificial colors and flavors) for a week because I knew his cooperation was essential for this to work. On the fourth day he began having rage attacks, showing opposition and defiance, just like before. He shouted at his teacher, threw a book across the room at another student, and spent a day in the principal’s office.
When he went back to eating the synthetic chemicals, the old behaviors returned in four days. It was a humiliating experience for my son.
He embarrassed himself terribly in front of his peers and came home asking to ditch the experiment. This validated the fact that the diet was truly the key to his happiness and success.
For the entire story – visit www.findingjoshua.org
Source ADDitude Magazine
Practicing social skills at home will make school a much friendlier place for your child with ADHD.
During a recent visit to a school, I noticed a student, Danny, roughhousing with a classmate. The boy said, “Stop it,” but Danny laughed and continued, seemingly oblivious to his friend’s irritation. When questioned later about this interchange, Danny responded, “He likes it when we play rough.”
Later that day, Danny was clueless as to why he was teased and called “loser” by his offended friend.
In 2001, the New York University Child Study Center conducted a survey of 507 parents. It found that kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) were nearly three times more likely to have difficulty getting along with, and more than twice as likely to get picked on by, peers, compared to children without ADHD.
Danny’s situation provides an illuminating look at why this may be so: Danny thought both he and his friend were having fun. He didn’t notice any nonverbal clues, so he didn’t take his friend’s verbal request to stop seriously.
Danny’s friend, on the other hand, interpreted Danny’s boisterous behavior as intentionally irritating, so he lashed out at him with hurtful words.
You may recall the classic saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The truth of the matter is that words can hurt – deeply. The most heart-wrenching stories I’ve heard from preteen patients relate to their being teased by peers. All children in the “in-between” years are susceptible to bullying by classmates, but kids who have ADHD may receive a disproportionate amount. If a child faces mean words and acts on a regular basis, the effects take their toll on his schoolwork and overall happiness.
Provide social cues
AD/HD behaviors, such as frequent interrupting and lack of standard social etiquette, may be misinterpreted as intentionally hurtful. Other behaviors simply provide easy targets for teasing during the precarious middle-school years. These behaviors may include: poor eye contact, too much activity, both verbal and nonverbal, and failure to notice social cues. Misinterpretation of such behaviors often causes trouble for both the AD/HD child and his schoolmates.
Parents can help their preteens hold back the tide of teasing by teaching social skills at home. Practice maintaining eye contact during short conversations. Emphasize the importance of using transitional expressions when greeting or leaving friends, such as “Hi” and “Bye,” and of saying “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” Ask your child to try counting to five in his head before making any comments or responding during a conversation. This five-second margin will reduce inappropriate verbal blurting and help teach him to become a better listener.
If preteens do not see how they may draw negative attention, they may come away from social interactions feeling that they are hopelessly and inexplicably disliked. Parents may advise their children to “just ignore it,” but this strategy can be difficult for AD/HD students. As you help your child build social skills, continue to listen to her problems. Provide a forum to discuss interactions and help her come up with her own strategies for dealing with the teasers of the world. Involve your child in activities at which he can be successful. Respond to your preteen when he shows what an interesting, loyal, and compassionate person he is becoming. Reinforce connections to his friends who show positive qualities. Tell about your own childhood (or present-day!) encounters with hurtful people and share your solutions.
Promote values of compassion
Young people take cues from those around them. Compassion may not be the strongest suit for many preteens, but school can be an ideal setting for changing this paradigm.
An episode from my ADD daughter’s time in junior high school makes the case for involving administrators and students in maintaining a friendly environment at school. The girls at the lunch table saw a student hiding another girl’s purse. When the girl found that her purse was missing, she began to cry. The principal called all the girls at the table in to her office. Although the offending child confessed to “playing a joke,” the principal asked each one of the girls at the table to perform one act of kindness every day that week for the victim of the teasing. The principal explained that, by doing nothing about an act of unkindness, they were part of the problem.
This intervention made a big impression on the girls, who came to understand that supporting an atmosphere of “compassion” was part of the school’s mission. The secret preteen understanding – “don’t get involved and don’t be a tattletale or you will be next” – was turned on its head. These girls learned that this doesn’t apply when you see targets of teasing.
That “magical, protective shield” that we all wish for our children must be built over time. While no single technique can eliminate the teasing words or actions that hurt feelings, there’s a lot that parents and teachers can do to help.