Slippery Slope of Liberalism Part 5
I have been kind of taking the easy way with my blogging of late, posting quotes and videos. So I have been saving up my commentary. So here it is.
I came across this article the other day. The federal government is actually paying people to drug their children. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently there is a program that many are more than likely unfamiliar with that gives low-income families money to help care for disabled children. Wonderful right? Not so much when you consider how far to the extreme this program has been taken.
It started out with what was probably very good intentions, as many government programs do. Low income families that are caring for children with disabilities such as Cerebal Palsy and Down’s Syndrome don’t always have extra money that these children sometimes need. Especially in the case of CP, where you will be taking your ill child to the doctors at a more regular clip than with a child without this illness. CP is fatal and requires a great deal more medical care. Children with Down’s in some cases will also sometimes need additional care. Child care sometimes can be more difficult to find and more expensive, not all public schools have the ability to care for these children and private schools are the only option. Most people with Down’s are perfectly capable of being mainstreamed, but some are not. There is a Social Security Insurance program that will offer families some financial aid to help offset some of these costs. I personally have no problem with that. These children need care and not all of these kids are born into families that can afford that care. These are the types of government programs that I can get behind. That is until they start being abused.
Which is exactly what has happened with this program. We now are seeing families going out of their way to find “disabilities” to attach to their child. Not only are they doing that, they are also upping the chances of receiving the money by getting their children on medications. There are rises in families that are applying for children with ADHD especially.
Now, I don’t fall into the category of people who say that children should never be medicated for ADHD. Some do need it. I have no doubts about that and will make that argument to anyone who disagrees. What I do have a problem with is the haphazard way we have gone about getting the proper diagnosis and the knee-jerk reaction we have to put the child on a ritalin like med. There was a study that concluded that as many as 1 million children are misdiagnosed with ADHD and given stimulants:
“Many ADHD diagnoses may be driven by teachers’ perceptions of poor behavior among the youngest children in a kindergarten classroom, but these ‘symptoms’ may merely reflect emotional or intellectual immaturity among the youngest students.”
Apparently the cut off dates of when children are allowed to enter kindergarten have something to do with the diagnosis the study has found. The younger the child is compared to other children in the class the more likely they are to be labeled as ADHD. The family then can turn around and call their child disabled and get the money that is being offered in this program.
Eventually she did, putting in applications for her two older sons. Neither was on medications; both were rejected. Then last year, school officials persuaded her to let her 10-year-old try a drug for his impulsiveness. Within weeks, his SSI application was approved.
“To get the check,’’ Fielding, 34, has concluded with regret, “you’ve got to medicate the child.’
Oh, but this gets worse. The payments become so attractive to some families that keeping your child labeled as disabled becomes the priority.
And once a family gets on SSI, it can be very hard to let go. The attraction of up to $700 a month in payments, and the near-automatic Medicaid coverage that comes with SSI approval, leads some families to count on a child’s remaining classified as disabled, even as his or her condition may be improving. It also leads many teenage beneficiaries to avoid steps — like taking a job — that might jeopardize the disability check.
One nurse practitioner in a large urban clinic who asked to be unnamed because she is not authorized to speak about her patients said she recently faced the wrath of a parent whose 4-year-old child’s SSI benefits, granted at birth due to prematurity, were cut off because the child was much better now. The nurse said she had candidly filled out the SSI form about the child, saying the boy had caught up with his peers and had only “minimal deficits.’’ The mother was livid, shouting at her, “Don’t you think this child’s disabled?’’
“They get angry with us,’’ the nurse practitioner said.
One diagnosis she believes is seriously overused is “the whole vague developmental delay’’ category for young children, often preschoolers who are behaving badly at home or in day care for undetermined reasons. She said clinicians often attribute such behavior to developmental delay, especially if they are sympathetic to that family’s needs for SSI payments.
It is very difficult when you have financial problems. They can become overwhelming and sometimes people come to believe that there is no way out of them. I get that. I have sympathy for people who find themselves in these situations. But to put your young child on drugs is not the answer.
A new trend in the psychology field is give children as young as 3 a lifelong diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. Of course once this diagnosis is in place, they have a life filled with medications; very strong medications. The increase in the numbers of children who are diagnosed with this is simply stunning:
I have been a child psychiatrist for nearly five decades and have seen diagnostic fads come and go. But I have never witnessed anything like the tidal wave of unwarranted enthusiasm for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children that now engulfs the public and the profession. Before 1995, bipolar disorder, once known as manic-depressive illness, was rarely diagnosed in children; today nearly one-third of all children and adolescents discharged from child psychiatric hospitals are diagnosed with the disorder and medicated accordingly. The rise of outpatient office visits for children and adolescents with bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 20,000 in 1994–95 to 800,000 in 2002–03. A Harvard child-psychiatry group led by Dr. Joseph Biederman, a prominent supporter of the diagnosis, recently insisted, “Juvenile bipolar disorder is a serious illness that is estimated to affect approximately 1 percent to 4 percent of children.”
The more serious the illness, the higher the likelihood of your application being accepted becomes.
As I said, there are children out there who do need to medicated for a period of time. But this very well-intentioned program has turned poor parents into drug dealers for their children in order to get money. Instead of helping these parents find their way out of poverty, we have labeled their children as disabled and mentally ill. Sadly, some of those labels will stick with these children for life. Big government at its finest.