Teen alphabet soup

2015-05-12 06:00

Are you ODD? No really! Are you Oppositional Defiance Disordered? Do you suffer from PTSD? Are you ADD or ADHD? How about OCD or PCD? Is my list becoming more or less familiar to you?

The alphabet soup of possible teenage conditions is giddying. Frustrated parents anxiously bounce from pill to practitioner to find an explanation for or relief from the unexplainable.

Don’t get me wrong. The advances in research are staggering. More has been learnt about the brain in the past two decades than in the previous 100 years. Medical progress has made yesterday’s death sentence today’s “manageable condition.” Psychological research and studies over 30 years have vastly improved our understanding of the teen psyche.

So do we disregard, or interrogate at enormous expense and time? What we shouldn’t do is clutch our anxious brow with a “this too shall pass” attitude. Where to start? Well, for example, ADHD is real. The only scoffers are those who have never lived with or taught a teen with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And so we could progress the debate through the full alphabet soup. That is not the point, however.

May I caution against the need to label and medicate any and every perceived “abnormality.” There is an entire industry that will gleefully accommodate your every twitch. Read voraciously, research your concern, talk to others, spend time with. That is, spend time with your teen, not the perceived condition. A loving parents’ instincts are seldom far off the mark.

May I caution against boxing and labelling a “condition” whose real and clear origin is relational and sadly, often seated firmly in the family. It is sometimes easier to label a condition than to acknowledge a more uncomfortable truth.

Psychosomatic factors underline much ill health. I believe that mental and relational health would put paid to our having to treat a range of physical conditions. That is no reason not to treat for ODD, but rather to have a broad-based approach which quite possibly includes counselling. Sixteen-year-olds who wet their beds persistently are very seldom suffering from a bladder infection

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