Friday, August 31, 2012

Pills are not for Preschoolers Book Review

When I first read the title of the book I'd be reading, Pills are not for Preschoolers - A Drug Free Approach for Troubled Kids, by Marilyn Wedge, I assumed that it would be focused on the preschool age group.  But the title is slightly misleading, because the book actually approaches all the age groups, from toddlers to kids just leaving the home. 

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I like to be conservative with medications in general, particularly in children.  Having worked with juvenile delinquents for a number of years (and visited many a residential treatment facility), I was curious to read more about Wedge's treatment approach. 

Wedge is a family systems therapist, and as such views the symptoms a child has not as a psychiatric disorder, but rather as a sign that something is wrong in the family.  She feels that the family can be fixed through therapeutic intervention, after which the child will stop displaying so many symptoms.  Now this isn't to say that she blames the family or the parents - not at all!  Just that there are areas which may be causing concerns that need to be healed.  In addition, family therapists may meet with siblings and even extended family, teachers, and other involved people. 

A few shocking stats from the book that will give you pause:
  • More than 4.5 million kids are diagnosed with ADHD
  • More than 1 million are diagnosed as bipolar
  • Child psychiatrists prescribe psychotropic drugs in children as young as two years old
  • For every 100 children that are prescribed ADHD drugs for a year, 1-2 will have a drug related psychotic event
  • 2-4 million kids are on medication for mental diagnoses
  • Parents are often unaware of the dangerous side effects in medications
The thing I loved most about this book was reading all of the case studies.  Many of them reminded me of teens that I worked with myself.  It gave me pause to wonder if they might have responded in a different way had the family seen a family systems therapist, who would have aimed at changing the system that the child was a part of (i.e. the family) and subsequently producing a positive change in the child's feelings and behavior.  According to Wedge's book, often a behavior is a way of protecting a parent in some way, so when issues in the parent's life are addressed, the child's behavior will improve.

Of course, the key to this sort of therapy is that the parents must be actively involved or it just won't work.  In addition, if the underlying family issues are not addressed, another family member may later develop symptoms.  I often saw children who didn't respond well to intervention, whose parents seemed to sabotage my efforts.  And later, we'd see younger siblings come through the court system too.  It can be a vicious cycle. 

The other consideration is that the therapist needs to have a really strong relationship with the patient.  It can be tricky to find the right therapist, but Wedge does offer some guidelines at the end of her book.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this.  So much, that I devoured it in two days.  All of the case studies of the children Wedge has worked with really make this an interesting book.  I also think the tips inside would be helpful to many parents.  And if you have a child that has some behavior problems, it would be a must-read prior to considering medication.  Having the background that I do, I feel that there are some (limited) times when medication is warranted in children, but I also think that kids are significantly overmedicated, and that parents should empower themselves by doing research prior to filling a prescription for their child. 

If you'd like to know more, you can visit Marilyn Wedge's website.  She has a PhD from the University of Chicago and has more than twenty years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families.  She is a family therapist in private practice in Westlake Village, California. 



Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own. I participated in this review through TLC Book Tours.

27 comments:

JDaniel4's Mom said...

This sounds like such an interesting book.

My Journey With Candida said...

It sounds like a great idea to start them young in learning about drugs.

Melodie said...

It sounds like a good book. I have to say I do not understand parents rush to medicate their children these days.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I will pass this on to my wife, she works with some of the special needs kids in school and sees all kinds of stuff.
I would feel better about the whole drug thing if there was a test to show the actual levels of chemicals that are supposed to be out of balance. That way they could say oh we need to raise this level. Now I get the feeling it is theory and guessing and drug companies making a quarterly profit.

SweetMarie said...

We are so blessed to not have any health issues that require medication. I do know parents that have had to place their children on medication for ADHD and I really feel for them. I don't like prescription drugs, but if I must take something I do get all the info on it first. This is a really interesting post. When I was getting a divorce my son was four, divorce took two years, he had to speak to a child psychologist. He had to talk to the doctor and draw
pictures for him. That's when we learned my son has a high IQ. This doctor built a good relationship with my son and he was very helpful during such a difficult time. A lot of children don't get the extra help they may need, so many don't even get what they need from their own parents...very sad.

Marilyn Wedge said...

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to read and review my book. I am happy you enjoyed it and found it helpful.
To respond to the above comment, there are no laboratory tests for mental disorders. Medical scientists have no idea what so-called chemicals are involved or how they are "out of balance." Unfortunately, the chemical imbalance theory is a myth created by drug companies and doctors on their payroll in order to sell more psychotropic drugs to children.

andy said...

Wow thats interesting ! Have a great weekend!

Michaele said...

I so agree! There is just no way so many kids can have ADHD.

Maple Lane said...

Stopping by to wish you and your family a nice weekend, Lisa. Thx for the book review. I know my sis would enjoy this one for her grands.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Well-written and thoughtful review, Lisa. I liked how you added some of your own experiences in the work you've done.

Betsy Adams said...

OH how I hope and pray that more parents of children will read this book... I cannot believe the number of children on medications these days. Parents are NOT discipling their children these days --so they get meds instead... GADS---what has happened to some good ole common discipline???????? Great review, Lisa.

Have a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

Leanne said...

Can you lend this one out? It might be useful information as I will someday get back into the classroom!

Buttons said...

Lisa great review and a very interesting subject.
I have seen a lot of troubled children in my life for various reasons and I thin the quick fix drug is not the way to go. I was a child that would have been put on something for ADHD now a days. I was a bright child who when bored would not listen nor do what was expected. I think there are a lot of children who are creatively different and have family issues that need to be addressed not medicated first.
Great review. B

Chatty Crone said...

Well I couldn't agree with you more. sandie

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Wow
That is some very good information in that book!
love
tweedles

Marissa @Life On Our Mountain said...

Those statistics are quite scary.

Samantha said...

This sounds like an excellent read for our over medicated society!

heathertlc said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and review this one for the tour!

Grandma Bonnie said...

I think this is a must have book for all parents. Sounds like a book I need to share with my children and their growing families.

Tiggeriffic said...

Sounds like a great book.
This evening while I was at Ben's house he got me his favorite book to read. Do you remember the Halloween book that you sent me in one of your give aways? Ben just loves this book and we read it year around..
Have a great week=end.. ta ta for now from Iowa~!

Terri Buster said...

This sounds like an interesting subject- I think society is to quick to put kids on medication instead of addressing the issues at hand.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

Sounds really wonderful. I'm glad you got the chance to read it!

alissa apel said...

I try to not medicate my kids. They get a daily vitamin. They have allergies like I do. We try and treat that with the neti pot. Luckily they will do that. It helps so much!

trish said...

I'm speechless that kids as young as 2 years old would be prescribed psychotropic drugs. Yikes!

I think as a country we turn far too quickly to the quick fix, so I think books like this are very important in spreading the word about other options.

Thanks for being on the tour!

Kim said...

I am so with you on the cautious approach to any drug treatments. I am definitely putting this book on my to read list!

Jeremi said...

this is a book i need to read -- i have SO many students that have severe issues and unstable family lives -- it's so hard and frustrating without family support (or limited/inconsistent family support). thanks for sharing.

Buried In Print said...

I like the way you pulled out the statistics. Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter (another of my favourite parenting books, this one has just joined that short list) has a snappy little appendix with a list of shocking facts...that would have made a handy addition to this work too.