Posted on Mon, Apr. 17, 2006
BY JEREMY OLSON
Renewed concerns about side effects of ADHD drugs have not held much sway with parents medicating their children for the disorder. For many, a clear-thinking child outweighs risks.
At age 8, Gabriel Johnson has experienced the worst and best of drugs for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
There was Adderall XR (extreme fatigue) and Concerta (aggression) and Strattera (hallucinations). Each time Gabriel switched medications to escape a side effect, another, more bizarre problem emerged. Meanwhile, his mother, Kari Lindholm-Johnson, kept hearing from teachers how Gabriel was more focused and ready to learn every day.
"I had people telling me at school, 'We have a new student,' " she said.
Lindholm-Johnson may not like the drugs, but the benefits of a clear-thinking child outweigh the risks. Her story helps explain why parents haven't reacted much to the latest federal debates over stimulant medications for ADHD and the rare risks of psychosis and heart problems. When it comes to this class of drugs — one that has raised arguments over everything from the biology of the brain to the erosion of society — many parents have already made their peace.
"It's a very hard thing to put your kid on a drug," said Sarah Lilja, a social worker who hosts an east metro support group for parents who, like her, have children with ADHD. "You probably don't ever let go of that worry. But then when you see the success …"
The first day Lilja's son came home from school after taking ADHD medication, he initially said the drugs made no difference. Then he paused — and thought — and the resulting response has made Lilja comfortable with her decision ever since.
"For the first time in my life," he told his mom, "I only had one thought in my head at a time."
Three to 5 percent of U.S. children are believed to have ADHD, which is marked by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. The primary medications are stimulants — Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall, among others — which are believed to work by increasing the production of brain chemicals that support attention and planning skills and impulse control.
The drugs have long carried stereotypes of turning children into zombies and encouraging addictions (despite research showing people with untreated ADHD are at greater risk of substance abuse). They also come with warning labels of known side effects, including weight loss, nervousness and insomnia. Reports of more severe medical risks emerged publicly in the past two years.
In February, one advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sought a "black box" warning on all ADHD stimulants after receiving reports of 25 deaths and 54 cardiovascular events among people taking the drugs. In late March, a similar FDA panel found that warning too extreme but also called for clearer warnings.
The FDA also warned last year that Strattera, a non-stimulant drug for ADHD, was linked to an elevated risk of suicide. And the Canadian government suspended sales of Adderall, an amphetamine, over potential risks of sudden death. That February 2005 suspension has since been lifted.
Given this buildup, Lilja was surprised when parents didn't bring up drug risks at this month's support group. Dr. Carri Borchardt, a child psychiatrist in St. Paul, couldn't recall any parents asking to take their children off medications either.
Parents have already wrestled with the risks of known side effects, so they were probably insulated from the latest controversies over ADHD medications, said Dr. Jason Nowak, an Eagan pediatrician.
Economic data suggest that the warnings might be having some effect. The prevalence of ADHD medication in children 19 or younger increased only 0.4 percent last year, compared with an average increase of 12 percent in the four previous years, according to Medco Health Solutions.
The slowdown probably reflects a change from previous years, when ADHD was a "fad diagnosis" and parents felt comfortable medicating their children even in marginal cases, said Ari Tuckman, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania. The new risks are probably reducing questionable uses of the drugs, he said, but aren't influencing parents whose children are thriving under the medication.
"The discussion of black box warnings may keep them up for a few nights," said Tuckman, speaking on behalf of CHADD, a national advocacy group for people with ADHD, "but when push comes to shove, those parents will decide it's worth it."
That's not to suggest that ADHD demands medication. Therapy alone can work in certain cases, and changes in diet and environment can have an effect as well. But taking children off successful medications means risking disruptions in their schoolwork, friendships and daily activities.
Lindholm-Johnson was told to put her son back on Adderall last year after he hallucinated while taking a different drug. He thought he saw someone running down the hallway of the family's Brooklyn Center home. The advice came just after Canada had suspended sales of Adderall.
She managed the stress of the decisions by painting, and the result on canvas was an abstract image of a boy surrounded by hands and objects symbolizing the opposing forces that made her decisions difficult.
"I just found expression in this turmoil," she said.
Lindholm-Johnson, a pastor at Evangelical Covenant Church, eventually found a drug regimen that her son could tolerate as well.
Gabriel now takes Adderall in a smaller dose each morning. It's enough to hold his attention span until the afternoon, but not enough to cause the fatigue he experienced the first time.
His school day is structured to give him 20 minutes of free drawing time — right when the drug wears off and attention problems resurface. The drawing is a mental break and allows Gabriel to return to regular classroom work with renewed focus.
After all of this, Lindholm-Johnson said, the latest debates over drug safety seemed like old news.
"When it came around this time," she said, "we had already weighed some of those concerns."
Jeremy Olson can be reached at email@example.com or 651-228-5583. To get help
The District 622 ADD/ADHD Support Group will resume next October. Parents from outside the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district are also welcome to attend. Call 651-748-7585.
Monday, April 17, 2006
IS BERNARD LORD RIGHT ON WHEN HE SAYS - IT'S UP TO THE DOCTORS OR PARENTS FOR THE DRUGGING AND THE KILLINGS OF OUR CHILDREN???
Posted on Mon, Apr. 17, 2006
I believe it was the Irvings clearcutting in the Capital?
These trees were forced down during a night of heavy winds. It's a nice little trail from my church to Saint Thomas.
The little trail in the wood was history last week. I believe it was the Irvings clearcutting the forest?
They're getting rid of all the trees to make way for an expansion of the French school L'Ecole Sainte-Anne.
Many of you will not reconize this guy but Ron was the guy taking the phone calls from New Brunswickers for Rogers Television < Old Germany >
He told me that it just wasn't the same after Dennis Melanson left Rogers Television!
These days? Rogers television < Old Germany > are totally mad with power.
Ron was a good worker for Rogers. I guess the atmosphere isn't a good one in that studio!!!!
This Crosby kid does like the Irvings!
Rogers Television < Old Germany > allows this young punk to give his views on different issues and the public are not allowed to phone in!!!
Yes!!! The Irvings and Rogers Television < Old Germany > goes hand in hand!!!!
The Quebec security staff should have more respect for the People's House.
There's no spotlights. There's nothing!!!!
What a shame!!!!
I saw Abel Thursday and he was very very very upset when he saw and heard that Tanker re-joined the Bernard Lord Team.
I am told that this outspoken citizen will write another letter to the Editor.
These girls were protesting in front of the Legislature in the summer of 2004.
Does anyone know where they're at todsy?
DAVE WILLIAMS AND STEVE BENTEAU WERE TRULY THE MOST HONEST EMPLOYEES THE IRVINGS EVER HAD ON THEIR PAYROLL!!!!
but not Peter Haggert.
Yes the good old days were truly the good old days.
These two individuals were the best!
Dave Williams and Steve Benteau from the Daily Gleaner always allowed the public the right to write letters supportive or non-supportive of the Irving Empire.
In the summer of 2003, Peter Haggert wrote a column in the Telegraph Journal and told the readers that only one letter per month to the editor will be printed on any issue.
This will mean that a writer who enjoys
sharing his views on any issue will have to decide which issue he wants to write about for the whole month?
This would be 12 letters a year.
I might add that 4 weeks later, the Irvings announced that the Shipyard would be shut down!!!
The regular writers had their say and they had to wait one month to write another letter. By then the news was old so therefore it was denied!
Myself, I knew this was coming because I wrote and got printed 500 letters to the editor but once Peter Haggert arrived from Ontario?
The system all change.
Rob Linke a editor told me after I wrote a letter to the editor about the garbage on the causeway that they will have to investigate?
Never have Dave Williams or Steve Benteau told me that my issues will have to be investigated?
This was the beginning of the end of freedom of speech in the Irving newspapers!!!!
I wrote a letter to the editor of the day the Irving paper Mill polluted the West side of Saint John on Christmas day.
My letter was once again denied!
I made a complaint to the Atlantic Press Council and Peter Haggert called me and told me that he won’t print any Anti-Irving letters!
This was the beginning of the end of my letter writing career in the Irving paper.
I began to write to the Daily Gleaner because Brian Kemp was really a nice guy.
I was supposed to have a guest column printed about the issue of the poor. The column was going to be printed on a Monday but Peter Haggert was transferred on a Sunday so therefore this Irving employee quickly rejected my column.
Since that day on? I have been very outspoken on the Irving Monopoly in New Brunswick.
I appeared in front of the Senate around one year ago and gave the Irvings a blast!!!! You can read the Transcript at
The Moncton Transcript followed orders from Robert Irving and my letters were always denied in the only English Paper among the Acadian Polution.
Many Acadians asked me- What happen to your letters?
I would just tell people that we are living in an old Germany state!!!!
It’s truly like old Germany again!!!!
The Irvings will not allow freedom of speech in New Brunswick and the public can’t do nothing about it.
Rogers television quickly join force with the Irvings in denying the right to New Brunswickers to voice their views.
Especially that Rich Crosby kid? He promotes the Irving papers like crazy and nothing can be done but to change the channel.
I always respected David Williams. He was the best!
He would always were a long sleeve shirt
< even when it was over 100 degree > and he had a lot of patience with me. I had many many many phone calls with this great individual.
I might add that Steve Benteau who now works with the Government was also a great Editor because he would allowed the public to voice their views on any issues.
David Williams retired a few years ago and we sure missed his open dialogue with the public.
I wrote a letter to the editor in the telgraph Journal a few weeks ago but I had no choice because my good friend Abel LeBlanc was under attack!!!
The Daily Gleaner have once again printed my letters but as long I don’t write against the Irvings? Everything will be fine!!!
David Williams and Steve Benteau were truly the best!
Yes, the good old freedom days are gone forever and it’s a darn shame!
Maybe one day? Freedom of speech will return to New Brunswick but while we still have soldiers like Peter Haggert around?
Freedom of speech will be truly dead!!!
It has been over one year since my first photo appeared in this blog.
This was the first blog with a picture and of course it was one of Bernard Lord....lol...you can see it by clicking here-
My God? How time flies?
In April, 2005 me and WCIE went around the City and took pictures. We tookover 100 photos.
I would use these same pictures over and over again.
Months later, I got to Saint John and joined up with Tim Smith. We borrowed a camera and took more pictures.
This was a person who was paased out near the Soup Kitchen.
During the summer months? I borrow a lady camera and once again when on the same rampage.
During the by-election in Saint John, we called a stranger and the woman was nice enough to lend us her expensive camera.
These photos really showed the true facts of the by-election.
A few days later, a reader of this blog showed up with a camera saying that I need the equipment. Sure was nice of the guy.
That little camera took a lot of pictures. I will say over 4,000!!!
I will admit that I was out of control!!!...duhhhhhh!!!!
My little toy broke and someone sent a package with a brand new camera inside.
Yes, I sure came a long way from the first picture blog in April 2005!!!
It would have been an impossible task for me to take all these pictures if it wasn’t for the huge support of the readers of this blog!!!
Once again? From the bottom of my heart I say Thank you very much!!!
It’s people like you that gives me the energy to continue the battle!!!!