Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why is My Child So Distressed?

By Jane Hersey
Author of "Why My Child Can't Behave"

Many things can lead to the development of behavior problems in children, and there are many ways to address them.

If the reasons for a child's problems stem from a family situation, interaction with peers, events at school, etc., then the place to look for resolution is clearly there. But if the child has always been hard to parent, the answers might be as close as your kitchen pantry. Here are some children whose families have found answers in their kitchen.

Joshua had a history of social and behavior problems and was expelled from several day care centers and private schools. He did not cope well in special classrooms with a ratio of six children and three teachers. His diagnoses included: severe ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Tourette syndrome and mood disorder syndrome. He was angry, aggressive, compulsive, threatening to kill others and himself, and nothing helped. The counseling, drugs, and even the psychiatric facility did not impact on his downward spiral.

Betsy was only 7 years old, but was haunted by thoughts of death; one of the pieces of art work she brought home from school was a black paper with three tombstones, bearing the initials of her parents and herself. She quietly planned on ways that she could end her life, which held no joy for her despite a loving family that desperately tried to help her.

Sean was expelled from preschool for his violent aggression and uncontrollable behavior. His family tried a therapeutic preschool, and he was at risk of being kicked out of a hospital treatment center because even they could not deal with this little boy's behavior. No amount of medicine controlled his “bi-polar behavior” and psychotic episodes, and his parents were told that Sean was “seriously mentally ill” and would require life-long support.

Frank had a history of violent behaviors and at age 17 it was only a matter of time before he would be incarcerated. But he heard about a special diet and decided he wanted to try it. His meeting with the doctor who was using this diet to help children like Frank, Sean, Betsy and Joshua meant flying from Tennessee to California. Because his mother was afraid of him, Frank's older brother accompanied him to visit with the doctor, Ben Feingold, who was chief of allergy at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in California.

Dr. Feingold discovered that some of the many chemicals routinely added to foods have the ability to affect any system of the body, including the brain. When a child is predisposed to be sensitive to these chemicals, they can wreak havoc. In order for a brain to function well, there are many chemical and electrical processes that must work appropriately; in other words, a lot things have to “go right.” When you add in a potent chemical such as an illicit drug (or even a legal one) our brain chemistry can be dramatically affected. Our bodies handle food additives and drugs in a similar manner.

All of these children described above have stories with happy endings once the offending chemicals were identified and removed. Joshua is an outstanding young man who has won numerous honors in school, in sports, and is a leader in an Air Force program for future officers.

Betsy is a normal, happy girl, Frank is a successful adult and Sean has no remnants of any “permanent mental disorder.” In fact, his mom reports he has recently joined the church choir.

Our bodies are composed of the food we eat; this is where we obtain nutrients of all types, including essential fatty acids, trace minerals and the many vitamins a healthy human body requires. But more and more children are no longer consuming food. Instead they are existing on a diet of synthetic substances that do not deliver the needed components to keep bodies working well and keep our brains operating rationally. These so-called foods might look like real food, fooling our eyes. They might even taste like food, fooling out taste buds. But our bodies are not fooled and when they do not receive the nutrients they need in order to function, things begin to go wrong. In addition to the nutrients they do not receive children today are ingesting a chemical stew of foodless ingredients, many of which are derived from crude oil (petroleum).

Dr. Feingold's experience with troubled children showed that there are a few food additives that appear to be the worst offenders, and removing them brought about significant – often dramatic – changes in behavior, mood, and the ability to focus and learn. These additives include synthetic food dyes (such as Yellow 5 and Red 40); they are created from crude oil, and most of the dyes added to our food start out in petroleum refineries in China. Common preservatives, artificial flavors and even fragrances typically are created from petroleum; rose petals no longer are the source of those pretty scents!

The Feingold diet has been helping families for decades, and the non-profit Feingold Association continues to offer information and support to those who want to learn more. Parent volunteers show others how they can find the foods they enjoy, but minus the unwanted additives; most of them are available at neighborhood supermarkets. See .

In addition to removing the offensive additives, researchers have found the many benefits of adding supplements to nutrient-starved bodies.

Researchers at Oxford University have shown that the behavior of young male prisoners calmed down when their diet was supplemented with a combination of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Other British research has shown the dramatic benefits of the EFAs, including help for children with ADHD and autism. In the US EFA research has been ongoing at Purdue University for many years.

When nourishing food was given to teens in juvenile detention facilites the improved behavior was documented. And when the Appleton Alternative High School in Wisconsin switched from the usual school food to fresh, healthy food, the behavior problems evaporated and learning improved.

Another risk factor for children with behavior and learning problems.

The drugs that are generally given to children with these problems offer additional concerns. While they may bring about improvements, they are not risk-free. The Food and Drug Administration now requires ADHD drugs to carry warning labels that some children might have reactions that include:

psychotic behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, violence, as well as a host of health effects including cancer, liver damage, strokes and heart attacks.

Risk factors with antidepressants and related drugs

Psychotropic drugs are routinely given to children who are diagnosed as depressed, bi-polar, etc., and these also carry warnings that side effects can include depression and violent behaviors. It can be difficult to sort out whether a behavior is originating within the child or is a side effect of some of the medications he is taking. The fact that all of these drugs are now being given to children who are still infants raises many red flags. Who knows what long-term effects they will have?

While it's comforting to think that only a minority of children experience the most dangerous reactions, the number of children now being medicated means that a minority can be a very large number of children. (It has been estimated that 10% of all 10-year-old boys in the United States are now on drugs for ADHD.)

A new awareness in Europe

The scientific evidence for the harm caused by petroleum-based food dyes is now so compelling that the British government is seeking to ban them and the European Parliament has voted to require warning labels on foods that contain them. While dyes are not the only additives that can cause adverse reactions, they are the most notorious, the easiest to replace, and offer no value to the consumer.

So, for the child whose behavior has gone over the edge, or if you worry that your youngster is on this path, one simple change that you can implement with no risk, very little cost, and relatively small effort, is to replace those mixes, cookies, candies, sodas, and fast food with nearly-identical versions that are free of the worst of the additives. And while you're at it, try eating the good food yourself; every parent needs to have their brain cells working at optimum levels as they deal with that temporary insanity called “adolescence.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Inhalant Abuse

Inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream
and quickly distributed to the brain and other organs. Within minutes, the user
experiences intoxication, with symptoms similar to those produced by drinking
alcohol. With Inhalants, however, intoxication lasts only a few minutes, so some
users prolong the “high” by continuing to inhale repeatedly.

Short-term effects include:

headaches, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, severe
mood swings and violent behavior, belligerence, slurred speech, numbness and
tingling of the hands and feet, nausea, hearing loss, visual disturbances, limb
spasms, fatigue, lack of coordination, apathy, impaired judgment, dizziness,
lethargy, depressed reflexes, stupor, and loss of consciousness.
The Inhalant user will initially feel slightly stimulated and, after successive
inhalations, will feel less inhibited and less in control. Hallucinations may
occur and the user can lose consciousness. Worse, he or she, may even die.
Please see Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome below.

Long-term Inhalant users generally suffer from:

weight loss, muscle weakness,
disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability and depression.
Different Inhalants produce different harmful effects, and regular abuse of these
substances can result in serious harm to vital organs. Serious, but potentially
reversible, effects include liver and kidney damage. Harmful irreversible effects
include: hearing loss, limb spasms, bone marrow and central nervous system
(including brain) damage.

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome:

Children can die the first time, or any time, they try an Inhalant. This is
known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. While it can occur with many
types of Inhalants, it is particularly associated with the abuse of air conditioning
coolant, butane, propane, and the chemicals in some aerosol products. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is usually associated with cardiac arrest. The Inhalant causes the heart to beat rapidly and erratically, resulting in cardiac arrest.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sue Scheff - SAFE EYES - Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Safe Eyes 5.0 Parental Control Software Receives Parents’ Choice Award

Safe Eyes™ 5.0, the latest edition of Internet parental control software from, has earned a 2008 Parents’ Choice Approved award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. The award is the latest in a series of honors for the parental monitoring software, including two consecutive Editors’ Choice awards from PC Magazine.

“If you think your family’s safety requires Internet filtering and monitoring, whatever level, this program provides an array of options to get it done,” said the Parents’ Choice Foundation in its recognition of the Safe Eyes product. The 30-year-old foundation is the nation’s oldest non-profit program created to recognize quality children’s media, including books, toys, music and storytelling, software, videogames, television and websites.

“This commendation from the Parents’ Choice Foundation reflects the growing concern that parents have over their children’s Internet use as well as the wide range of control choices that Safe Eyes offers,” said Forrest Collier, CEO of “Every child and every family is different, so flexibility is essential. The product lets parents decide how their children use the Internet.”

Safe Eyes is a comprehensive program that enables parents to easily block objectionable websites, control Internet use by length of time as well as time of day and day of the week, block or record instant messenger chats, and block peer-to-peer file sharing programs that may expose children to dangerous material. It also allows parents to limit email use to certain addresses, and receive alerts when children post inappropriate or personal information on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

The software provides broader controls than any other filtering product, including the ability to define which websites will be blocked by category, URL and keyword; receive instant alerts about inappropriate online behavior by email, text message or phone call; and remotely change program settings or view reports from any Internet-enabled computer.

Safe Eyes is also the only program of its kind that can be used in mixed Mac/PC households. A single $49.95 annual subscription covers up to three Mac and/or PC computers with the ability to customize settings for each child and enforce them on any machine. The product’s website blacklist is updated automatically every day, eliminating the need for manual updates. Safe Eyes can be downloaded at

All Parents’ Choice Awards winners are posted to the Parents’ Choice Foundation website (

Established in 1999, specializes in providing Internet safety solutions. Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication. The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Tough Talks with your Teen

By Shoulder to Shoulder

It’s not easy talking about sex, drugs, gangs and violence with our teens. But it’s a “must do.” Here are a few pointers and tips for talking with teens about the very real issues they face.

Timing is Everything

Know that teens will catch us off guard when they decide to ask questions about sex or other “tough” topics. Resist the urge to flee. Try saying, “I’m glad you came to me with that question.” This gives us time to think of a response, and will let teens know they can come to parents for advice. It’s important to answer the question right away, rather than put off a teen by saying something like - “you’re too young to know that!” Chances are, the subject has already come up at school and they’re already getting “advice” from their friends. When teens ask questions, look at it as an opportunity to help them learn by sharing our thoughts.

Practice Makes Perfect

As parents, anticipation is our best friend. Anticipate what teens’ questions may be about sex, drugs or alcohol, then think about your responses ahead of time. What to say? It’s different for each family, but become familiar with typical questions and behaviors that occur during the teen years. Do a little digging around popular teen Web sites to find out what’s hot in a teen’s world.

Is It Hot In Here?

If you’re feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable about a question your teen asks, say so. Acknowledging your own discomfort allows your kids to acknowledge theirs - and may make everyone feel a little less awkward all around. It’s also okay for parents to set limits. For example, you do not have to give specific answers about your own teen behaviors.

Read entire article here:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse - Warning Signs for Parents

Inhalant Abuse is a lesser-known form of substance abuse, but is no less dangerous than other forms.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service has reported that more than 2.1 million children in America experiment with some form of an inhalant each year and the Centers for Disease Control lists inhalants as second only to marijuana for illicit drug use among youth.

However, parents aren't talking to their children about this deadly issue. According to the Alliance for Consumer Education's research study, Inhalant Abuse falls behind alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use by nearly 50% in terms of parental knowledge and concern. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that 18 percent of all eighth graders have used inhalants, but nine out of 10 parents are unaware or deny that their children have abused inhalants. Many parents are not aware that inhalant users can die the first time they try Inhalants.

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is caused in one of two ways. First, Inhalants force the heart to beat rapidly and erratically until the user goes into cardiac arrest. Second, the fumes from an Inhalant enter a user's lungs and central nervous system. By lowering oxygen levels enough, the user is unable to breathe and suffocates. Regular abuse of these substances can result in serious harm to vital organs including the brain, heart, kidneys and liver.

Even if the user doesn't die, Inhalants can still affect the body. Most Inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication with initial excitement, then drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness and agitation. Short-term effects include headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, severe mood swings and violent behavior, slurred speech, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, nausea, hearing loss, limb spasms, fatigue, and lack of coordination. Long- term effects include central nervous system or brain damage. Serious effects include damage to the liver, heart, kidneys, blood oxygen level depletion, unconsciousness and death.

Studies show that strong parental involvement in a child's life makes the child less likely to use Inhalants. Know the warning signs or behavior patterns to watch for and take the time to educate yourself about the issue so that you can talk to your children about inhalants.

Click here for entire article and warning signs

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sue Scheff - Difficult Teens

Are you struggling with your teen?

Visit P.U.R.E. - Parents Universal Resource Experts - Parents helping parents.

P.U.R.E. is based on reality - especially with today's teen society of technology including MySpace and other Internet concerns for children. Today we are educating children at much younger ages about substance abuse, sex, and more.
The latest wave of music and lyrics, television, and movies help to contribute to generate a new spin on this age group.

This leads to new areas of concern for parents. We recognize that each family is different with a variety of needs. P.U.R.E. believes in creating Parent Awareness to help you become an educated parent in the teen help industry.

We will give you a feeling of comfort in a situation that can be confusing, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes desperate.Desperate? Confused? Stressed? Anxious? Helplessness? Frustrated? Scared? Exhausted? Fearful? Alone? Drained? Hopelessness? Out of Control? At Wit's End?...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sue Scheff: Using Chores to Teach Better Behavior to ADHD Children

Household chores work wonders in teaching good discipline to ADHD children.

Chores are a necessary part of family living. Everyone — son, daughter, mom, and dad — should be assigned daily and weekly chores.

I know it’s easier to complete the tasks yourself, but you’ll be doing your child a disservice if he isn’t assigned jobs around the house. Chores teach responsibility and self-discipline, develop skills for independent living, and make the child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) a contributing member of the family.

Household tasks help the ADHD child feel like an important member of the family. Because he may experience more disappointments, failures, and frustrations than the average child, it is imperative that he knows he is needed at home. Choose chores that you know he can complete successfully. This will build self-esteem.

The Right Chores
When assigning chores, consider the age of the child, his interests, and his ability to perform a task. Then teach your child the task in small steps. Let’s say you want your seven-year-old to take responsibility for setting the dinner table. Together, count out the number of plates needed and show him their proper locations. Now count out the number of forks, knives, and spoons needed. Put the utensils in the correct places, followed by the napkins and glassware. Before you know it, your child can set a table.

Clarify the task to be completed, step by step. Pictures showing the steps can be posted on a refrigerator or wall as a visual reference until the chore becomes routine. (Older kids may need only verbal instructions.)

Knowing the basics doesn’t mean he is ready to take full responsibility for the job. Your child will probably need reminders and some supervision before he is able to complete the task on his own. Offer encouragement and praise for his efforts, even if they don’t measure up to your expectations.

Set a Deadline
Establishing a time frame — “Bill, I want the table set by 5:30” — will motivate him to finish the task. With children who can’t tell time, set a timer and let them know that, when the buzzer goes off, they should pick up their toys or feed the dog.

“Chores actually are a great help to David,” says Kate, David’s mom. “It’s a way for him to help us. Even though he complains at times, he likes vacuuming, preparing snacks, and helping sort laundry. Taking the time to teach him the job has paid off big for us. His vacuuming is passable and his laundry sense is great.”

“We try to show Ryan that a family works together,” explains his mother, Terri. “For example, if Ryan does his chores, we will have extra time to play or be with him. If not, we’ll spend that time doing his chores.”

Another mom says, “In our home, chores are done on a paid-for basis. Each chore is worth so much. My husband and I felt our son should learn that you have to work for what you want.”

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sue Scheff: Discipline Without Regret: Tips for Parents of ADHD Children

How parents can set boundaries for ADHD children without yelling, screaming, or losing your cool. The smart way to discipline.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Inhalants A Deadly Drug of Choice

Article published Apr 22, 2008
Local angle
The death of a 19-year-old South Bend man earlier this year shows that inhalant abuse can and does occur in our area.
In that case, the victim died of asphyxia caused by inhaling compressed air used to clean computer keyboards.
Police say the practice is not uncommon.

— Ed Semmler, Tribune staff writer

Inhalants a deadly drug of choice

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jason Emanuel was a troubled 20-year-old whose drug of choice was keyboard cleaner.

He sucked can after can of products such as Dust-Off until his lips turned blue and the euphoria set in. He came to a Delray Beach, Fla., sober house to get clean.

Instead, he was arrested for "huffing" three times over four weeks and died after his final high set off a seizure.

Jason Emanuel's case reflects the danger of household products in the hands of young people looking for an easy hit. Indeed, Emanuel chose inhalants because there is no middle man, other than a checkout clerk. Compared with other drugs, the number of people who die from inhalants is small, but there is growing concern over the No. 1 drug of middle-schoolers, who studies show see huffing as a low-risk hit.

"Jason was not a criminal," his adoptive father, Chris Emanuel, said. "He wasn't a guy that would stick up the 7-Eleven. He had a problem and eventually it defeated him."

The coroner's report, which determines cause of death, is not complete yet.

Chris Emanuel last saw his son in mid-December, about the same time the North Carolina native was first arrested in Boynton Beach, Fla. Twice police found him in his car huffing outside Wal-Mart. A third time, he was outside SuperTarget. Each time, he appeared unsteady on his feet and was incoherent, according to police reports.

Using Jason Emanuel as an example, police in January called a news conference to warn parents about huffing. They called him the "poster child" for inhalant abuse. More than 2 million kids ages 12-17 chose an inhalant to get high, according to the Alliance for Consumer Education, which operates the Web site

What they huff is found at home, with more than 1,400 household products as potential hits.

"This is a tragic situation that highlights the dangers of inhalant abuse and should force every parent to have a conversation with their children about the deadly consequences," police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said in a statement.

Inhalants affect the body like alcohol does: slurred speech, lack of coordination and dizziness. Some users experience hallucinations and delusions. More severe are the long-term effects, such as liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, limb spasms and brain damage.

Because the high lasts only a few minutes, users prolong the feeling by huffing for hours. Chemical-induced cardiac arrest can happen any time, said Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Control covering South Florida.

Even without an autopsy, Jason Emanuel's final encounter with police on Feb. 26 reveals the role inhalants played in his death. Days before, he was kicked out of the Delray Beach halfway house where he came to get sober. For three days he lived in his car, and on the last, sheriff's deputies were called to Wal-Mart west of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Jason Emanuel told the deputies he had been huffing that afternoon, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera. Paramedics took him to the hospital and, on the way, he suffered a seizure and stopped breathing.

On average, 100 to 125 people across the United States die from inhalants annually, said Harvey Weiss, spokesman for the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition. But the numbers may be higher, he said. There is no national clearinghouse on inhalant-related deaths.

An interim report from Florida's medical examiners attributes three deaths to inhalants in 2007. In contrast, cocaine killed 398 people in the state last year. The prescription drug Oxycodone claimed 323 lives. Anti-drug advocates say inhalants are just as dangerous.

"You see kids on YouTube joking around, laughing and having fun, and the risk really isn't conveyed," said Colleen Creighton, the consumer alliance's executive director. "The frightening thing for us is how young the kids are who are using."

A government study released last month showed inhalants are the drug of choice for 12- and 13-year-olds. As they get older, many teens switch to marijuana.

Jason Emanuel was the opposite. His father said he smoked marijuana in high school but took up huffing about a year ago.

"He got off marijuana because he didn't like finding dealers," he said. "You can go to any place and find an inhalant."

Jason Emanuel grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Charlotte, N.C. The product of private schools, he was a bright kid who had big ambitions. Ultimately, he dropped out after his first semester at Appalachian State University to go into rehab.

His parents sent him to rehabilitation centers around the United States, but he veiled his troubles to his friends.

"He just didn't act like someone who was a drug addict," Elliot Engstrom, 19, a childhood friend, said.

"With my generation, people get so concerned with drugs you hear about in pop culture. That's really not the problem. It's the prescription drugs and the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart."