Childhood Disorders

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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesADHD NationAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child 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Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved Too MuchThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe 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Related Topics
Please Don't Label My ChildReview - Please Don't Label My Child
Break the Doctor-Diagnosis-Drug Cycle and Discover Safe, Effective Choices for Your Child's Emotional Health
by Scott M. Shannon
Rodale, 2007
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H.,
May 5th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 19)

Please Don't Label My Child harshly decries a perceived rampant "labeling" of children with various psychiatric diagnoses.  The author, Scott M. Shannon, is a pediatric psychiatrist in private practice (in Colorado).  The mantra of Shannon is that the real causes of a child's emotional and mental distress should be identified and treated, rather than simply prescribing drugs for the treatment of observed symptoms.  But according to Shannon, emotionally suffering children all too often are tagged by doctors with psychiatric diagnostic "labels", and then drugged for symptom relief.  An important, adverse consequence of this doctor-diagnosis-drug cycle, in the view of Shannon, is that the true, underlying causes of a child's emotional and mental disturbance may remain unidentified and untreated.  The cardinal aspiration of Shannon, in this very lay reader friendly styled book, is to empower parents to sever the fetters of the doctor-diagnosis-drug cycle shackling the emotional and mental health of their children.

Without any interest in being churlish, some notable properties of this book warrant critical mention.  Particularly, Shannon does not provide citations to his textual research sources.  The omission of citations to research studies, which may underpin Shannon's views with supporting scientific data, importantly diminishes the book's value from an academic perspective.  From that perspective, the book may be evaluated critically as being relatively long on views, albeit short on science.

In a related critical vein, the level of scientific sophistication of the textual contents may fall considerably short of the elevated scientific height which may be sought by academics.  In substance, as in style, the book as written most closely fits lay readers.

In his very determined efforts to break the doctor-diagnosis-drug cycle, Shannon is dependent partly on anecdotal data.  These data, pertaining to patients of Shannon, are often woven artfully into the text in a manner interestingly germane to a particular chapter's substantive focus.  The fleshing out of recounted anecdotal details with informative commentary is an important means used by Shannon throughout the book to strengthen its instructive value.  But critical readers may caution that anecdotal data are a weak surrogate for scientific data, and that the injecting of these data into the textual corpus acts to dilute the academic potency of the text.

The specific views of Shannon with respect to the emotional and mental health of children flow powerfully and copiously throughout the text.  And the book abounds, as well, with multitudinous practical suggestions to parents concerning the betterment of the emotional and mental health of their children.  But to the extent that the views and suggestions of Shannon are shaped by his specific private practice experiences, cautious readers may admonish that in significant ways the sub cohort of children who are patients of Shannon may be unrepresentative of the full cohort of children.

It is the trenchantly held belief of Shannon that multifarious "brain stressors" may impinge adversely on the emotional and mental well being of children.  As conceptualized by Shannon, these stressors collectively have a sixfold nature:  relational, nutritional, environmental, familial, educational, and traumatic.  Each of the six component parts garners the insightful, informative and chapter long attention of Shannon.

In Chapter 3, Shannon strives assiduously to disentangle the knottily tied strands binding a child, the child's relationship with the primary caregiver, and the effects of that relationship on the child's brain development.  Topics broached pithily, in this context, envelop the concepts of  "attunement" and "attachment".

The stressor category of nutrition comes under the microscope of Shannon's illumining scrutiny in Chapter 4.  The focus, sharply, is on proper nutrition for a child's emotional and mental health.

The brain stressor raptly engaging the expert attention of Shannon, in Chapter 5, is the environment (of the home).  The crux of the chapter is collecting some understanding of the possible effects of the home environment on a child's emotional and mental health.

In intellectually enlightening fashion, Shannon, in Chapter 6, shines a spotlight of scrutiny on the question of how family relationships may affect a child's brain development.  In this regard, a web of interconnected topics are examined briefly, encompassing; stress, divorce, and resilience.

The brain stressor of education consumes the energy of Shannon, in Chapter 7.  The overarching focus of the chapter is on the possible effects of school on a child's social and mental development.

The remaining brain stressor category of trauma is the cynosure of Chapter 8.  In this chapter, Shannon discourses engagingly on possible effects of trauma on a child's brain.

In concluding Chapter 9, Shannon expounds on the subject of parenting children for emotional and mental health.  Towards this end, Shannon offers abundant advice intended to guide parents regarding helping their children develop:  a strong sense of self identity; the ability to self regulate; and, also, resilience.

The numerous appendices joined to the text's far end are a distinctive feature of the book's structural anatomy.  The various appendices envelop glossaries, questionnaires as well as other materials helpful potentially to parents.

A steely strength of this book is that, as the discerning reader carefully traverses its length and breadth, a great many unresolved issues associated with the sundry brain stressors discussed by Shannon can be identified, which are quite worthy of scientific investigation.

The impassioned efforts of Shannon should be of vast interest to all parents.  The views advanced forthrightly by Shannon  should, as well, arouse the intellectual appetites of widely ranging professional groups, extending to:  pediatricians, child psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatric neurologists, behavioral therapists, practitioners of holistic medicine, herbal medicine specialists, pharmacists, pharmacologists, pharmaceutical industry professionals, neuroscientists, neurobiologists, neurophysiologists, nutritionists, child advocates, social workers, and family medicine doctors.

© 2009 Leo Uzych

Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.


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