Two weeks ago, the New York Times crunched some numbers from raw data on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
The data came from the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, in Atlanta. The CDC found some alarming statistics on ADHD. According to the New York Times, 6.4 million children aged 4-17 had “received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16-point increase since 2007 and a 41 percent rise in the past decade.”
They also found that two-thirds of those diagnosed received prescriptions for stimulants.
Many professionals who interact with ADHD children and teens are concerned about this rise in prescriptions and misuse of the medication.
“We need to ensure balance,” Dr. Frieden told the New York Times. “The right medications for ADHD, given to the right people, can make a huge difference.”
Last weekend was a 5K walk to raise money for the Franklin Stroud Foundation. Stroud was considered a pediatrician to the stars – not the stars of Hollywood, but to well-known names of political Washington, D.C. To Dr. Stroud, however, every child was the same, and they all deserved help. I was proud to be his friend and to have even a slight glimpse of his compassion for young people.
He cared for children with all kinds of ailments, but he was ahead of his time in recognizing and treating children with ADD and ADHD. He was not a medical elitist and made teachers, nurses and psychologists all part of the child’s team, along with parents and other family members. His foundation states, “Dr. Stroud believed in a holistic approach to health. He believed that diet and nutrition, relationships and environment affect a child’s health. Ultimately, he believed the whole child’s health contributed to their behavior in school and their ability to learn. He recognized that some children learn differently from the mainstream. He helped parents assess their child’s needs and design a path to success. He guided and advised them as they chose schools and attended schools and in some cases served as a direct advocate to the school.”
Aware that a single solution does not fit every child, he developed partnerships with others in the field.
I interviewed William Stixrud, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist who worked with Dr. Stroud. Often we see treatment for ADHD and ADD divided into two camps: the always medicate and the never medicate.
As Dr. Stixrud explained, careful evaluation and decision-making is needed, and there are no simple answers. Stixrud believes in a whole-child approach and a careful evaluation. He has developed a consultation practice based on that.
Fortunately, Dr. Stixrud and Dr. Stroud were not lone rangers. Thom and Louise Hartmann began the Hunter School under the premise that children who had ADHD developed from hunters who had to be acutely aware of their surroundings and that ADHD was an adaptive strategy to help people survive. Drs. Patricia Gerbarg and Dr. Richard Brown recently wrote a comprehensive book, “Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, New Options for Kids, Adults, and Clinicians.”
The Stroud Foundation is aiming to gather research and to cast a wide net to help these children, just like Frank Stroud did. He said “no child wants to fail,” and his vision will continue to make sure that the best treatment will be available. He believed in good treatment, but not over or under treatment. We have much to learn from the legacy of Frank Stroud.