Is the prevalence of difficult child new or just diagnosed more?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lovemychocolate, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. lovemychocolate

    lovemychocolate New Member

    I'm new to the board, but have begun to wonder why are so many kids having psychological /neurological problems? Is it environmental? Pollution and toxin related? Or, is it that we are better equipped to diagnosis children whereas we weren't decades ago?

    Part of me can't help but think the toxins and pollutants dumped into our waters and soil are doing something on a cellular level to the unborn. Have any of the veteran ladies on the board read any articles addresing this??:anxious:
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I have not read any articles...but I have wondered about this myself.

    A few things come immediately to mind--the first was from a therapist who told me that years ago, this kind of child would most likely have been a victim of severe child abuse...and ended up either locked away somewhere or, unfortunately, dead.

    The second thing that comes to mind is the radical difference in lifestyle we live today as opposed to several generations ago. Today's kids are far less active and are expected to accomplish far more "brainy" activities, (and sooner) than their predecessors [spelling?].

    I recently began helping a neighbor, who lives on a farm, with a few chores around the property every day...and I've been bringing my DS (with ADHD) along every day to help take care of the animals. I've been amazed at the effect farm chores have had on him! His energy gets focused into some very physical and labor-intensive tasks, he is continually challenged by problem-solving opportunities that come up, and if he gets 'distracted' and forgets a task--the farm environment is one with natural and immediate consequences [eg. if you forget to turn the hose off--the water buckets overflow]. My DS has been doing wonderfully in a farm environment...and he is so proud of himself for taking care of the animals as well.

    Perhaps the kids a few generations back were too busy to demonstrate the hyperactivity that is the hallmark of ADHD?

    Perhaps a more 'natural' lifestyle is better for one's mental health?

    --Just my thoughts,

  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi and Welcome! My personal opinion is that for the most part, they are able to see signs of mental illness that might have been ignored or overlooked in earlier times when there was even more stigma attached to it. But, I also think that with the world being so different these days and expectations on kids and the way parents should raise kids, that this plays into how our kids are handling things sometimes.

    That being said, I've never thought as much about pollution causing any of it, but in our case, I honestly believe that the medications used to treat ashmatic wheezing in my son from infancy to 4 yo and then on a lesser scale, those used to prevent wheezing, contributed to his mental health issues. I've heard the question raised about vaccines causing some issues in kids, too.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We know more now. I was very mentally ill as a child, but nobody knew what to do about it and I was called "Lazy" and "bad." I was 23 before I got treatment. I know a little girl who was "sent to a special school" and another child who was autistic who was "sent away." That's what they used to do, and it was a deep, dark family secret. Fortunately, we have more help now, although far from enough. Do you have a child?
  5. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    For us it is genetics. You can trace it back.
    We are healthy, we do eat healthy we always have. We are active as well.

    I have a long line of Mental Illness in my family. husband has Mental Illness in his.
    One of the problems with Mental Illness, I am not talking about Autism Spectrums that is a whole other argument, people did not admit it. A lot of families kept it a secret so there is no history of it.
    People were hidden away or beaten or medicated beyond function. Locked up or even killed in the past. Thrown out on the streets cast away.
    With the research nowadays we can identify things earlier. We can be more sure of issues.
    It is not perfect by no means. But with computers and research more people, children, are able to be identified easier and earlier. Thus receive help.

    I was one who did not receive help until later in my life because kids did not have Mental Illness, back then.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    In short, I think it's a combination of BOTH.

    There is mental illness/neurodevelopmental issues on BOTH sides of my kids' family tree. The older generations didn't have a diagnosis to hang on it (too much stigma there), but knowing what I know now about certain people and their histories, I can tell you they had/have some serious things going on. And based on my accounts to various tdocs and psychiatrists, they pretty much agree with my conclusions.
  7. Janna

    Janna New Member

    I think it's a little of everything.

    I'm anti Jenny McCarthy "my son had Autism from Mercury poisoning in immunizations but I put him on the gluten-free, casein-free diet and now he's CURED" group. Egad, keep that junk from me.

    BUT -

    I think some of it is genetics. In our case, my boy's paternal side is loaded with good stuff. Few Bipolar great aunts. Grandmother that has severe Learning Disability (LD)'s. Father that is a drunk/druggie - 40 years old on his 4th DUI, going to jail. Autism - he has a cousin, no speech, tippy toe walker, 18 years old, rages like crazy. Bipolar ALL over the place. My mom - depressive. My dad - whacko. Yeah - it's around.

    I think some parents (and, NOT saying anyone here at this site, or picking on any person) have issues with disciplining their children. I run a support site and could tell ya stories, but won't go there. And so, they go to psychiatrist and say "my child is out of control" when the fact of the matter is, you shoulda told him/her no and stuck to it.

    I do believe some may be environmental. I have read/heard really interesting stories on the diets (like Jenny's miracle gluten-free, casein-free cure! LMAO) and seen some with exceptional success stories. I mean, I suppose if you live on McDonald's and Burger King, all that processed, fatty garbage, it can't be good for you, right?

    And, I believe there's alot more awareness. Autism awareness is huge. Bipolar is controversial still, but hey, it's out there for kids, and it wasn't before. I've still talked to a psychiatrist or two that says ABSOLUTELY NOT until their 20's. Whatever. People are hearing about it, reading about it and seeing it. If I knew when my own son was 3 that his not talking, his obsessive spinning of everything and his lack of eye contact said AUTISM, I'd have been to a neuro way before I ever was. I didn't know. Now people know.

    And, finally - if I'd have told my dad to shut up when I was 10, my teeth woulda been scrambled in my mouth, or on the ground, whichever. Can't do that now. Can't even raise a hand. My mom used to make me go get a switch. And, if she didn't like THAT switch I picked, she'd whack me with it, then go get a good one and whack me with that after LMAO! My dad loved the belt. I've been chased with the wooden spoon. Haha! Was it right? I dunno. But, I never, never EVER disrespected or embarrassed my parents. NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    And now, these kids can do whatever the he$$ they wanna. And, they know it.

    Good topic.
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I also think it's both. There has always been mental illness, but society has not always recognized it. As society began to smarten up and recognize it, they also got smart and manufactured a whole lot of stuff, leading to toxins we never saw before. And now mental illness is a little more prevalent. JMHO.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    On Jenny McCarthy, I feel sorry for her son. A lot of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids get lots better, but there's no cure and a diet hasn't been proven to cure it. She has enough money to hire the best and brightest to be with her son offering him interventions 24/7. If we all had that, our Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids could improve that much too. Sadly, some people will think you can cure Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). At age five the kids often seem better. I noticed that when son got to the ages where socializing is more than just running around with other kids or being silly, son seemed more obviously Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). He really lacked social skills although he tried to be friendly. That wasn't it. Hard to explain. At any rate, the closest they can come to knowing that causes Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is genes. If you have one Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kid, you have a 1 in 20 chance of having another one. Contributing to my own son's Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), however, COULD be that his birthmother took drugs while pregnant. Nobody knows that yet--just that poor prenatal care and prenatal trauma also cause more Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids. Cure? I find it misleading. I think the environment is overly blamed for things that always existed--we just didn't have names for them so it's hard to, say, diagnose Aspergers if we don't know what it is. JMO
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Nice to meet you, Lovemychocolate. I love your name! Right up my alley.

    I agree with-others, it is a combination. We have much better awareness and dxs now, we have too many video games and not enough outdoor activities, we have completely different parenting, and we had environmental toxins that promote gene expression that otherwise may be latent.

    If it were any one thing, believe me, we'd be stampeding to do something!

    It's hard not to ask this question every few weeks... and still come up empty handed. Or, come up with some answers that simply create more questions.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  11. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I often think about this. I don't understand it either. When I was growing up I don't ever remember encountering any of my school mates with mental illness. I never knew anyone who displayed symptoms similar to my daughter. I believe that I am ADD, never been tested nor medicated. They just called it "day dreaming" back then. I didn't misbehave though, I just had trouble focusing. I believe now I am adult ADD. I have all of the classic symptoms. I am a complete scatter brain!!! I am so used to it that I know to check the coffee pot twice to make sure I turned it off, check the stove, candles....and so on. I can walk into a room and immediately forget what I went in there for. I am always looking for my cell phone and keys. I am very disorganized and depending on the day I am having I often have racing thoughts. I have tried my daughter's Concerta a few times and I did notice I was more alert and able to finish something I started a lot better. But never actually pursued treatment for myself.

    I can't explain where my daughter's illness comes from. Other than my suspicion of ADD there is absolutely no mental illness nor substance abuse in my entire family. I never used drugs or drank while pregnant with her, ate good, had prenatal care, took my vitamins and had a great pregnancy. The only thing I can think of is that my daughter had elevated lead levels in her blood from my first apartment. However it only got to 22. My nephew's reached 62, 65 is the mental retardation level. He is fine. We are not sure about her father's side of the family. They do not believe in "mental illness" or psychiatry. So if anyone is mentally ill it is undiagnosed. There is substance abuse in his side of the family. So my guess is that they were self medicating??? I don't know.

    Good topic.
  12. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    this is a very good question.
    For one thing diagnosis is only going to happen where there are clinicians who are both qualified and where children have access.
    The impact of environment is playing a role. Toxic materials DO have effects. As do nutrition.
    In my lifetime population has doubled once already. It will happen again sooner this time and it will be LARGER.
    Is there more now? Common sense says yes. More people, more of the same.
    In my lifetime the availability of diagnosis and treatments has increased as today there are more practioners who see more of the population than did even 80 years ago.
    The lifestyle changes in my lifetime play a role as well as on a farm, for example,
    the activities and opertunities to have someone name that disorder were less.
    In public schools now a child IS under the observation of educators and clinical phsycologists and as needed in their opions recieving the oppertunities to be evaluated by child and adolescent psyciatrists.
    What is very true is that these sciences ARE NEW and the fact that children both with diagnosable conditions have not been and are often not now being
    evaluated as well children in families where there are mentally aflicted parents are not recieving the attention and care that hopefully is in store for the future as the normally occuring as well as industrially concieved mental illnesses are not swept under the rug and ignored.
    The fact that poor quality food both due to limited supply due to famines as well as the profit motivated devotion to the inflated pricing of food that are cheap to grow and lack the variety humans need for health are influencing the physical and mental health of EVERYBODY.
    And the impact of pollutions wether the poisons added to increase yeilds by killing bugs and other living things, or the substances that are being added to the air,land,water that over time will continue to bare sway on health.
    The most optimistic thoughts I have found yet are the idea that we are going from the age of information into the age of biology. As humans in general are more likely to learn about what is known and knowable in a context that includes the whole globe and the finite atmosphere of earth we can share in common the awareness of life on earth and the care of this place and one another.
    As my family has had mental illness on both sides that we know of and in my family right now I think everyone is getting treatment. Even if all the things that we are doing now are entirely wrong the fact is from the lessons of clinical practises will ultimately inch the science and the success for future one step further.
    What I would like to see is a full scale push to gather the best facts possible on the largest number of the population alive and stop using product check to test as a meathod of treatment.
    I am most excited about the role of the brain scanning and the diagnositic test which offer the first time a chance to look and see what is happening both through visual and chemical tests. Also the improving of the behavioral evaluation teats are so extremely insightfull. In this way there are much to be enthusiastic about.
    That said, I also hope that the increased educational attainment of the greater population will also be embrasing a more thoughtful and compassionate aproach to the fertility of women and stop this shame based nonscence that pushes the young into reproductivity befor she has the where with all to decide from the veiw point of an adult wether and when and with whom she wishes to become a mother. As the lifestyle choices of the extremes in poverty that are coming now
    it is cruel and sadistic to press women into the sorts of emotional/intellectual abuse that is part and parcel of the new religions that put females into a rape cage to begin with. Fertility is a sign of health in females and it is short sighted nonscence to require the massive populations alive now to reproduce just because biological ability as it is the means by which more senceless and avoidable poverty and crushing servile abuse is perpetuated.
    That is what I have to say about that.
  13. Debbie MA

    Debbie MA New Member

  14. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    what about maternal age? women are having babies later and later in life. wouldnt' that have some sort of impact too?
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    lovemychocolate, you reminded me I hadn't had my daily dose of chocolate, so I went and got some. Then I read through al lthe comments.

    I think the increasing prevalence (perceived) is mostly a matter of increased diagnosis due to changing diagnostic criteria, increased acceptability and much more openness and acceptance of those with problems. Put it all together and there you have it, in my opinion.

    Are environmental toxins at fault? I don't think so - we have fewer really nasty toxins in the environment now, than when we were growing up. I mean, we don't have lead paint now, we have much more stringent testing of food additives and new drugs now. There are many more regulations and safety procedures in place now. If anything, I think we're too wrapped up in cotton wool now.

    That's not to say that some cases aren't caused by chemical or other toxicity, but I don't think there's been an increase.

  16. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Lovemychocolate (also LOVE your name!),

    I have to agree that I think it's a combination of factors. Genetics #1, advanced medical research and data, the so-called 'progress' in regards to how much and how early we try to 'advance' our children in school and life, how much less often they are afforded the opportunity of physical random play time (lack of recess midday comes to mind!), environmental factors such as toxins and trace amount of drugs in our drinking water, second hand smoke, drug & alcohol use by the mother before and during pregnancy, the upward spike in computer, tv, video game use and other technical stimulation (though sedentary in it's use), and the overall attitude that our children are somehow our equals and, as such, get away with things we never would have as children.

    In our family, there are genetic factors at play as well as environmental I believe. I also think that alongside those two, there is emotional damage as well. I don't pretend to know how to pinpoint exactly which of difficult child's behaviors are from which, and for me it doesn't even matter at this point. Instead I have just tried to find a way to deal and help her to the best of my ability along with the aide of school staff and doctors.
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Marg, it's not just perceived, at least in our country.

    U.S. sources report that 1-in-4 kids is autistic. That is an epidemic.

    I humbly beg to differ with-you. I think we have MORE toxins in the environment. You are far too trusting of regulatory agencies. :)

    We have a lot more pharmaceuticals being produced and sent into the waste system now. They are considered "emerging contaminants." Here's one of many articles you can Google, but I chose this one because it was a scientific test.

    Some of the water is recirculated, and some of it goes into the fish and fowl, which we eat. In many places, it is illegal now to add hormones to chickens so we've gotten over that, but it's already in a lot of the feed. :(

    We have also had plastics in the environment for many yrs now and they have proven to be not only carcinogenic, but many of them mimic hormones. Again, lots of hits online but I chose only one:

    At any rate, since autism is neurological, and U.S. sources report that 1-in-4 kids is autistic, there has got to be something in the environment that is either making the latent genes express themselves, or in some cases, causing it altogether.

    Of course, dxs are better. Far, far superior to what we had even 20 yrs ago. And yes, there is a genetic component. The other issue is, some outward effects of autism, specifically, Asperger's, are acceptable and desirable in society, and may have flown under the radar for that reason. Sometimes it pays, literally, to be obessive-compulsive. And maybe there is a genetic component to being a workaholic. It certainly promotes survival, from an evolutionary point of view. Maybe we're just being too soft and romantic and making more demands on ourselves, from a personal level.

    With time and research, particularly in regard to DNA and genetics in general, many of these questions will be answered. But for us to turn a blind eye to the world around us and what we have done to our environment, is, in my opinion, wearing blinders.
  18. artana

    artana New Member

    I have to agree that it's a combination. On looking at my difficult child, my brother has similar symptoms, I have similar milder symptoms, and my father does too. There was no diagnosis of Aspeger's when I was little or when my father was little. My father has a hard time socializing, doesn't know how to express feelings very well, was always extremely clumsy with how he treated others. My brother has a temper that he keeps very reigned in, but he has to control his environment to be able to cope. My son has the temper and the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), but he's mild like all of us. He has the ability to learn the coping skills, though, and he has a lot more support. So, I can see the genetic trends and state that it was not environmental. My younger son has the exact same issues as his dad, and he has not lived with him since he was 3.

    The environmental factor is an odd thing, because we have some nasty stuff, but there was nasty stuff before. I think we romanticize previous eras, but we need to be careful what we consider pointing the finger at. For instance, people blame mercury for the rise in autism, but a little before I was born, kids used to play with mercury in school. We didn't find out it was a poison until later. So...why wasn't there a huge rate of autism then?

    Fifty years ago, if you waited for a train, you stood in a cloud of black smoke from the coal. Cars had horrible emissions. The pesticides used to be sprayed along streets right onto children. We have our own modern share of toxins, but I don't know if I would say they are worse or better or what. I think that going back to more organic foods for several weeks would let parents see clearly if food toxins have anything to do with the behaviors, but it would be difficult to account for environmental toxins.
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think 1 in 4 kids are autistic. I read 1 in 250.
    Even when I was a little kid, your son, Terry, would never have gotten an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis. There was no such thing as Aspergers. The diagnosis. would have been ADHD and tough if he didn't get better with just ADHD interventions. They couldn't diagnose what they didn't recognize. Back when I was a kid only classical autism was recognized as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and that just isn't the case anymore. Aspergers and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified have only been recognized now for about twelve years. That means a lot of kids who had it weren't diagnosed and just kind of made it through life, confused and often homeless. I think of a man we thought of as "slow." He would stumble down the block to get a paper every day, never make eye contact with anyone, and never talk to anyone. Back then, we said, "He's mentally retarded." But was he? There were a lot of people who got lost between the cracks in my day. They had no diagnosis. and no help and people, sadly, pretended they didn't exist. I really do believe it was lack of knowledge. And autism was a dirty little secret back in the day. You didn't tell anyone. If you were unfortunate enough to have a child who had classical autism, it was assumed the child was "mentally ill" (caused by Refrigerator Moms--anyone else old enough to remember the cruel "Refrigerator Mom" tag for mothers of autistic kids?). And those poor kids were hidden in institutions. Nobody believed they could ever learn to talk or interact in the world. Autism was considered a severe form of Schizophrenia. Anyone else old enough to remember THAT???

    Now, I"m not 100 years old. I'm only 55, and that's how it was back then. Even kids with ADHD were labeled "bad." And bipolar in kids? I had it. I think the only diagnosis. I had as a child, however, was "Spoiled brat." We find more breast cancer now too (and cure it more often). We used to wait until we felt a lump. Now we get mammos and catch it much earlier. We've made a lot of progress in the diagnosis. and treatment of childhood disorders, but we still have a long way to go.
    I personally don't believe toxins are a factor, and I do believe there are less now, not more. The lead poisining was a good example. I think you're born with autism or the predisposition to it. Anyhooooo, my .02 ;)