Addressing the Underlying Cause

This week I had a meeting with my eight-year-old’s teacher. My child is doing well, understanding all the work which is reflected in the results of her tests. However, her teacher said that she’s lethargic and her pace is slow. She asked for a neurological assessment. What’s she’s really saying is that she wants me to drug my child.

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To be honest, I’m appalled. I’m horrified that she didn’t ask if there’s something emotional happening that might be distracting her. I’m amazed that she didn’t ask about her overall health, how much sleep she’s getting or her diet. Her first call for action is to seek mind altering drugs. Is there anyone else who feels that’s unacceptable?

Two years ago, another teacher said the same thing. I asked for my child to see the school counselor because I suspected something emotional. Our family was in distress from my burnout and the resultant illness. It turns out that my daughter thought she had caused my illness by her noisy playing. She was carrying an enormous amount of guilt that was leading her to be distracted. She spent a few hours with the counselor and it was resolved. Her concentration was back and she could continue learning.

I knew my child well enough to know that something was not right. I know my child well enough to know that there’s nothing wrong with her or her brain. I remember how she was doing 100 piece puzzles at four years old. We marveled at how she sat through a ninety minute movie at age two. This is not a child with a brain injury or any dysfunction that would require mind altering chemicals. Last year’s teacher could not stop complementing us on our parenting and this wonderful child of ours.

I prefer to find the underlying cause of a problem so that I can address that instead of putting a band-aid on something I don’t understand. It feels to me that schools have become drug pushers. Some parents take the teacher’s opinion as gospel and follow instruction as if from an authority figure. I am my child’s primary advocate and I know what she needs better than anyone else. My daughter needs me on her side to make sure her best interests are met. She’s counting on me to make decisions that affect her career, health and well-being for decades into the future. The best way I can do that is by getting to the underlying cause of what’s troubling her.

I know this is a heated debate and there are many parents who have seen great improvement in their child’s behavior since medicating them. I understand that everyone must make the right decisions for their families. I just hope that every parent takes the time and effort to understand the underlying cause before making such a radical decision. We live in busy times where we want instant gratification but instant solutions are rarely the right ones.

It’s so clear to me from my experience of illness that conventional medicine only knows how to medicate. Doctors are merely trained to match the illness with the drugs. In the same way, if you visit a surgeon, they recommend surgery. If you visit a psychiatrist, they recommend drugs and if you visit a psychologist, they recommend therapy.

I see it as a great blessing that I found a specialist who advocates lifestyle change as the main treatment for my auto immune disease. I also feel blessed that I have experienced this major health collapse and through it found the gift of functional medicine. It focuses on finding the underlying cause of illness and addressing that. In so doing, the body can return to its natural, healthy state. I’m so lucky that I found it before the teachers convinced me to drug my child.

My daughter has a range of minor issues in her body that are easy to fix with natural medicines. It will take approximately four to six weeks until her body is restored to full health. That will allow her to function properly and to concentrate. Even in the past 24 hours, her energy levels are up and she is so much more buoyant. If I had not found functional medicine, I might have been convinced to put my child on medication that would affect her brain function, her personality and that she might never be able to stop without serious consequences.

I’ve also taken her for an independent assessment with a psychometrist who can advise whether she requires occupational therapy or any other remedies in the emotional sphere in order to support her. I really feel that the schools are far too quick to push drugs on parents as a suitable solution before investigating further.

I know parents are only able to do the best for their child as per their knowledge at the time. Five years ago I might also have taken the teacher’s advice as the right thing to do. It’s my experiences that have enabled me to fight for my child better. It was a combination of my own health collapsing, conventional medicine failing me and finding functional medicine that helped me be a better parent. I am her biggest champion and I’m doing the best I can, as we all are, to help her to thrive.

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Until she is a parent, my daughter won’t know how difficult it is to make these decisions or how much we worry about her. I hope in ten or twenty years time that she understands that everything I’ve done for her is to support her health and to give her the chance to be the best person possible.

It’s okay that other parents think I’m flaky or weird for my approach that is non-conventional. My child will thank me in future when her peers aren’t thriving. My child will have her personality, her health and her passions in tact. And that is worth all the resistance from school, teachers and parents. My daughters have put their lives and well-being in my hands and I won’t let them down.

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Kathy

I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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