February 28, 2007
We begin our two part series tonight looking at learning disorder diagnoses. A government issued report shows that 4-point-6 million children have been told that they have a learning disability. The numbers are staggering. These kids, between the ages of 3 and 17, are hastily being prescribed heavy stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
But, as you're about to see, the assumption of disease and the subsequent quick diagnoses by doctors, proved to be detrimental for two families who were on the brink of giving up hope.
"everything was dealing with drugs... He was on three different types of drugs." (Carolyn Moorefield)
"once he came off of it, it was a nightmare" (Scottie Scott)
"the doctors they're supposed to know what they're doing, supposedly" (Harold Moorefield)
"i did not know what i was being told was nothing but garbage, really" (Carolyn Moorefield)
"it just really broke my heart to find out what was in adderall." (Janet Scott)
"one of the pharmacists had told me, she pulled me to the side and told me this drug could kill him." (Carolyn Moorefield)
"it's so trendy, and it's the worst trend ever." (Janet Scott)
At just three-years-old... Matthew Moorefield was diagnosed as having serious behavioral concerns such as aggression, extreme impulsivity, lack of awareness of danger, and even a mood disorder, which is commonly known as bi-polar.
"I started asking questions, and everybody was telling me, I guess you could say, social problems... Didn't get along with kids as well as he needed to," Matthew’s mother Carolyn Moorefield said.
So, the county school system sent Carolyn to a child psychologist who prescribed Risperdal, a drug that's recently been linked to brain damage in children and teens...in as little as one to two years.
"When I went to get it filled at the pharmacy, five of them wouldn't fill it," Carolyn said.
The prescribing doctor finally convinced a pharmacist to fill that prescription, but, by this point, Carolyn and her husband, Harold, realized the danger of the drug.
"I would get up at all times of the night and go over there to make sure he was still breathing. I hurt, my heart hurt. I cried just about every night before I'd go to bed," Carolyn said.
And, despite the dangers, Risperdal didn't seem to be working. In fact, it was enhancing Matthew's aggression.
"He took an empty 2-liter bottle and was beating his brother on top of the head, he had him down on the ground. I stopped it right then and there. I did not give him the next dose,” Carolyn told us.
The Moorefield's took Matthew to a different doctor who prescribed, Ritalin for his bad behavior. But this drug made him nauseous. So, Carolyn stopped giving Matthew the medicine and sent him off to school.
But the phone calls started up again. Teachers and administrators were complaining that Matthew just wasn't behaving.
A trip to a third doctor rendered a new diagnosis... Depression.
"I thought it was a bunch of bull... There ain't no three-year-old that's gonna have no depression," Matthew’s father Harold said.
"I kept asking her what could he be depressed about... And she just said that...she never did pinpoint nothing,” Carolyn said.
It was after this diagnosis that Harold told his wife to find someone else…someone who could help their son without medication.
Like the Moorefields, the Scott family was desperate for non-medical help. Their seven-year-old son, Jarrel started exhibiting problems in kindergarten.
"When Jarrell was in my office, he was talking out of his head, he was talking gibberish, which is commonly known as loose associations. He was rocking back in forth in his seat, getting up, not paying attention,” Dr. David Stein told us after he met with Jarrell for the first time.
The Scott’s first tried medication. Jarrell was prescribed adderall.
"He started having spasms in his sleep. This was pretty much a narcotic. And I was thinking at the time, this is a six-year-old... Everybody thinks it's OK to give a six-year-old this kind of drug? It's crazy," Jarrell’s mother Janet said.
And Carolyn Moorefield felt the same way. Matthew was waking up in the middle of the night screaming, but they weren't nightmares, the medication, Clonidine, was making Carolyn's three-year-old son hallucinate.
"He was having crazy, I mean, off the wall dreams of not wanting to be killed," Carolyn said.
As a stay-at-home mom, Carolyn blamed herself.
"I thought it was how I raised him. Where did I go wrong? What did I do to him? Did I not spend enough time with him when he was little? Did he feel like he wasn't loved?"
And, Jarrel's dad said that he felt helpless...
"I guess I just felt unsure in the beginning. I felt kind of on an island, cause you don't know. This is my son, I want to help him, I want him to be right, I want everything to be OK for him."
So, after having bad experiences with medication, both families made appointments with Doctor David Stein. And, after just 10 sessions, without medication, both Jarrell and Matthew are showing *significant improvement. Now, if you're curious as to how doctor stein made their diagnosed learning problems just disappear, without a prescription, you'll have to tune in Thursday night (2/28/07) at eleven. I sat down with Dr. Stein who explained his methods and why he says learning disorders like ADD and ADHD are not medical problems. He says these issues can be addressed at home, with results in just a matter of weeks.