News for kids with mental health challenges
As if to punctuate the news I was listening to on NPR on the morning of February 10, rapt and horrified, as soon as the piece on the draft of the new 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' released by the American Psychiatric Association today, Monroe rolled over, asked to nurse, and when refused, screamed and punched me in a brief, intense fit of anger. The news, at least in part: mental health medical professionals will be urged to consider an alternative to pediatric bipolar disorder, a label currently on the chart of a whopping 1 million (!!) (!!!!!!!) children in the U.S.: temper dysregulation disorder. I do know that I'm not qualified to make this diagnosis myself, but the child described by the mother in this piece is my seven-year-old; he's also my two-year-old; oh my god OHMYGOD if Everett were to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
I learn after listening to a few more pieces on the subject, if Everett were to have been diagnosed with BPD, he'd still be at Grout; given the oppositional/defiant disorder "diagnosis" handed to us by a parenting coach and shared with the school -- I'd no idea at the time I was possibly creating a Berlin Wall's-worth of barriers for my poor child's future -- he had to be sent to a special school, not mainstreamed with gentle love and school district-provided assistance. So-called "conduct" disorders like oppositional/defiant, once on his chart, allow school districts to remove your child from the mainstream. There may be many drawbacks to temper dysregulation disorder -- I've been reading a wide range of them in the past few days (for instance, it's limited to children between six and 10, perhaps leaving the window open for psychiatrists to consider it a precursor to bipolar disorder and, thus, prescribe the anti-psychotics that are precisely the enormous concern of parents and activists surrounding pediatric bipolar disorder) -- but its availability as a more accurate diagnosis for kids like Everett, being biological and not conduct-based, could open up educational options.
The other big news was that Asperger's Syndrome will be removed from the manual (which isn't published until 2013), with the recommendation that children who meet the current criteria for Asperger's be instead diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This, too, could have far-reaching effects mostly centered around public school accomodations and social service eligibility, with perhaps a minor effect on which treatments would be reimbursed by insurance companies.
I'm working on a larger article about this and will be interviewing a few pediatricians and other experts in the next day or so; I'd love to hear your thoughts and perhaps weave them into my interviews. I'd also be interested to see if any of you with children who fit either diagnosis "basket" were heartened, or terrified by the news? Did you see relief or great worry? I have so many rather weighty questions that I don't think the experts can answer (should Everett have been placed on anti-psychotics? Are the anti-depressants he is taking ultimately harmful? Just how badly did I effect his future by allowing that conduct disorder diagnosis? What about the kids who are on anti-psychotics? I million freakin' bipolar kids? How could that be?)