Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Parents Must Consider Before Giving In To School Pressure To Have Their Children Evaluated For A Mental Disorder

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

When a school pressures a family to have their child evaluated for a mental illness, usually for special education, it can be a very confusing time.  But before parents "give in," they owe it to their child to conduct a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of all possible causes and solutions to the situation.  Labeling a child with a mental illness, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), ED (Emotional Disturbance), ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), or some other mental disorder, is a life-changing decision which not only alters the child's life forever, but also opens the door to potential mind-altering drugs to "control" the child's classroom issues.

Since 1995 I have been helping parents and students in all types of school matters, and I have represented parents both in and out of the special education system.  I have also assisted a handful of parents who fought against school pressure to label their children with mental health disabilities due to problems in the classroom.  The public schools and their staff often push parents to have their child evaluated by a medical professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Many parents follow through, as their child is not learning, is a problem in the classroom, or acts bad at school, and they don't know what else to do.  But is a disease really the cause?  Maybe, maybe not.

Consider these other potential causes:

1)  An undiagnosed physical disability.
2)  Nutrition/food issues.

3)  Sleep deprivation.

4)  Energy and interest in life.
5)  Poor teaching.
6)  Poor control of the classroom.
7)  Need to move around rather than sit still for 6 hours a day.
8)  Failure to understand the work in the time given.  Public schools don't stop for any student- they just move on whether the child understands or not.  When a child does not understand, they can get bored, distracted, and disinterested.
9)  Need for additional assistance with the work at school (not because of a disability, but because they just did not GET something).
10)  Teacher conflict with the student and/or a bad fit.
11)  Need for more stimulation in the classroom, such as visuals, music, movement, change.  Not all students learn best by sitting, listening, and reading.  
12)  School is not taught in an interesting way.
13)  Poor parenting- parents not working with them at home, not disciplining enough, not there.
14)  A multitude of other reasons.... other than a mental illness.

Sadly, if a student is pushed into the mental health system for the above reasons, it is not because they have a "DISABILITY," but because of something else. However, they may still be labelled as disabled and carry that crutch the rest of their lives.

Labeling a child with a psychological disorder is a BIG deal, and opens the door for drugs- drugs for behavior, drugs for attention, drugs for...control.  If Johnny sits there and no longer blurts out, the teacher will be happier, but will Johnny actually be better off?  Parents need to first consider what would help their CHILD to survive, learn, and flourish.  The school's needs are secondary.

When considering such avenues, parents should check the following sites (among others) for alternatives and information on labelling and drugging of children for alleged mental disorders:

-  Alternative Mental Health.com
-  The Block Center- alternative ADHD treatment
-  Public Service Announcements and the website of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights
-  The Psychiatric Drug Search Engine


Do it for your child.

Best,
Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Website: http://www.edlaw4students.com/

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page [http://edlaw4students.blogspot.com/]. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

1 comment:

  1. That's a very comprehensive look at the situation, Ms. Ball. It will help any parent that reads it.

    ReplyDelete