A few months back, I attended the third module on childhood developmental disorder with Dr. Robert Melillo. Each module is 25 hours and build upon the prior modules. The first module started with newborn and infant examination. The remaining modules will cover the following topics; ADHD, OCD, anxiety, dyslexia, Tourette’s, and autism. The last 2 modules main topic has been ADHD, but trust me when I say it entails much more than that. The wealth of knowledge gained from each class is truly amazing, yet so dense and complex a vast amount of hours must be spent out of the classroom. With that being said it will be difficult to tell about all that happens in the classes, so please enjoy this summary to educate yourself and others.
I would like to start by telling you a bit about Dr. Melillo and what he has done. Dr. Melillo has been working on childhood developmental disorders for over 20 years. He has worked with patients, performed research and published multiple books. He is also the co-founder of over 50 Brain Balance Centers located throughout the nation. The books he has published include; Disconnected Kids, Reconnected Kids, Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective and coming next year a book on Autism. Dr. Melillo has devoted his life to the knowledge, awareness and improvement of childhood developmental disorders. Everything that I inform you about in this blog should be accredited to Dr. Melillo and all that he has developed through his research and practice.
The issue that arises in kids with developmental disorders is described by Dr. Melillo as Functional Disconnect Syndrome (FDS). FDS is a brain imbalance in the synchronization between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, not allowing the brain to function as a whole. When the brain isn’t able to integrate and communicate between its two hemispheres, one side becomes dominant. When the dominant side is constantly working the other doesn’t mature. A child will often express normal or even enhanced skills of the dominant half, while the lagging half is associated with poor skills. To make a long story short, the premises behind FDS is to improve the weak hemisphere to balance the brain. It is very similar to improving in a sport. For Instance, if you can’t make a left-handed lay up, do you stop attempting them? No, you practice and improve, resulting in a better athlete as a whole. The irony in this is, ADHD medication can reduce the activity of the strong half, resulting in two dampened hemispheres.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is described as the inability to pay attention to the point that it disrupts family, friendships,, and the classroom. There are three classifications; type I is an inability to pay attention, type II is hyperactivity with impulsivity and type III is a combination of both. Some actions that are typical of ADHD kids are poor gross motor skills (balance, coordination, posture), difficulty making friends, picky eaters and saying inappropriate things. Many of the symptoms are associated with actions governed by one hemisphere, so if you improve the other hemisphere it will help to resolve the symptoms. A trait that is common of the dominant half in a ADHD kid is verbal communication while its counterpart in the other half is non verbal skills. This is why ADHD kids often have difficulty telling if someone is upset, happy or sad.
ADHD is the #1 reason a child is medicated these days. Today one in ten kids are being diagnosed as ADHD, with a greater prevalence in males. This has gone up over 2,000% in the past 20 years and can easily be confirmed with the increased production of medications used for ADHD. There was even an article published this year reporting a shortage of ADHD medication. Not only are there many side effects with theses medications, but 50-60% of kids on the medication will continue to have symptoms after 3 years. In Canada, Adderall was taken of the market due to a 500% increase risk of sudden death if there was predisposing heart factors. The increase risk for sudden cardiac death has been disputed, but here is a great article to inform you a bit more on this topic. Up to 70% of kids with ADHD are diagnosed with additional disorders such as; depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, oppositional defiance, OCD, Tourette’s, tics and learning disabilities. ADHD kids are twice as likely to drop out of high school, at a 300% risk for substance abuse and are 200% more likely to be obese. Last of all, an average a family will spend is $14,000 a year caring for their ADHD child.
So, what’s the cause? I wish it was that simple, but unfortunately there is no single factor that is responsible for ADHD. As noted above, 70% of kids with ADHD have another disorder, so what came first and which do you treat? One of the most relevant and hot topics being discussed is epigenetics. Epigenetics is when human genes change due to external factors experienced throughout life. These external or environmental factors can range from the food we eat, to physical and emotional experiences (i.e. family). Many kids with ADHD have the presence of pesticides in their urine; these pesticides are often found in the dirty dozen. The list goes on for possible causes of ADHD and deserves a blog of its own.
In order to treat FDS a wealth of time, patience, compassion and effort is required. There is not at this time a magic bullet cure, and obviously medication is not the answer. In order to change the brain and its function it can take months or even years depending on the severity. This is often a difficult concept for patients to grasp and often the reason they seek that one pill to cure-all. Why does it take so long? Because you are actually changing and building new nerves, genes and connections. In order for change to occur repetition and consistency is essential, but with repetition and consistency results will follow. Just like any sport, the more you practice, the easier an action becomes.
I have only scratched the surface of the childhood developmental disorders iceberg. I hope with this blog I have raised some eyebrows, interest and awareness in regards to ADHD. If you would like more information with respect to the neurology behind this, please let me know.