Below is the text of an article from Newsday by Delthia Ricks. Ms. Ricks called me and asked me if I was surprised at the numbers reported by the CDC. I answered, almost immediately, that the numbers did not surprise me at all. What I see in the Autism world, the fragmenting effect of the technology that surrounds the kids, holds true for the rest of the kids in our society. When kids have to add their ideas to play, when they have time to process despite the processing differences we all have, kids are able to enter the world of increasingly complex social interactions. Interactions with technology are not social interactions, and they do not lead to safety, serenity and peace for kids. Our kids are fragmented, detached, lonely and anxious. When you are lonely, and you do not know how to interact with others, or do not experience others as calming or even useful, you become anxious, depressed, aggressive, fragmented, or any of the other things that the CDC is describing. So no, I am not surprised at what the CDC reports. I am just sad for the kids.
Here is the complete text of the Newsday Article, if you are not a Newsday subscriber.
“About 20 percent of children nationwide have mental health disorders, a problem that has been escalating for more than a decade, federal health officials reported Thursday.
In an investigation described as a first of its kind, a panel of experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked the prevalence of serious mental health conditions in kids between the ages 3 and 17 — and opened a new window on childhood psychological struggles.
Kids from all regions and ethnic backgrounds are afflicted with conditions that range from anxiety and depression to serious conduct disorders. The most prevalent — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD — affects nearly 7 percent of children nationwide.
It is estimated that more 4 million children have ADHD, but millions of others have equally serious concerns, according to the investigation’s authors.
For example, an estimated 3.5 percent of children have behavioral problems and another 3 percent have anxiety issues. About 1 percent have autism, according to the report.
“No parent, grandparent, teacher or friend wants to see a child struggle with these issues,” CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a statement.
“We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders and scale up programs and strategies to prevent mental illness,” he said.
The cost of treating affected children is astronomical — about $247 billion annually, CDC panelists found.
“I think the estimate of 1 in 5 children affected by a mental health disorder would probably surprise a lot of people, but sitting in this seat, it doesn’t,” said Dr. Michael Genovese, a Garden City psychiatrist who treats children and adults. He was not involved in the CDC investigation.
Speaking from the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco, Genovese said he treats a substantial number of children with ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders and a condition known as oppositional defiant disorder. All are listed in the CDC report.
“Oppositional defiant disorder is a very difficult one,” Genovese said. “It’s generally something you can’t treat with medication.
“People with ODD have no respect for authority; they get in trouble a lot; they can’t follow rules and they have a total disregard for the feelings of others,” Genovese said.
He added that intensive psychotherapy is usually the best treatment because ODD can be a precursor to serious anti-social and violent behavior patterns seen in adults.
Dr. Gil Tippy, an Oyster Bay child psychologist, also said he is not surprised by the panelists’ findings.”Unfortunately, it’s a very sad growth industry,” he said of his role as a child mental health professional “and I would very much like to be out of business. But kids are so anxious and depressed — they feel so alone.”
Tippy attributed some of the mental health issues to fragmented families, a growing disappearance of unstructured outdoor playtime and an education system that doesn’t meet individual needs.”