I wrote this article several years ago and was published in the Church’s website http://wcg.org/lit/booklets/families/singles.htm

By age 30, probably most of his boyhood friends had already married. Maybe they had little children who scurried around him when he went for visits. Maybe he was also asked repeatedly if he was ever going to settle down. He had many friends, but he had no wife or children to come home to. He had no home of his own, though he was able to enjoy visiting homes of other friends. Maybe other people figured that because he was taking care of an older parent, there was no time for romance and love to blossom for him.

He had a strong sense of who he was and where he was going, but he was keenly aware of how it felt to be so different that he was considered a threat by many. His company was sought out by other people, he engaged in heated debates, he knew how to laugh until it ached, he knew how to play with little children, but there were times when he cried and sometimes felt extremely lonely and alone. He is usually not thought of in this way, but Jesus was a single adult. He was a single man in a time when men weren’t supposed to be single.

The number of single adults is rising rapidly. A number of factors are fueling this phenomenon: trend toward later marriage, collapse of marriages and even our changing values. Many people do not marry until age 30, and quite a few marry even later – a big departure from what the previous generation deemed normative in their time.

How can we address the needs of the single men and women in our churches? Here are some suggestions:

Work on changing our attitudes toward singles

Have you considered your attitudes toward single adults in your congregation? Do they feel left out because we lack programs to meet their needs? Such a lack is a reflection that we do not understand them, or worse, we do not have the desire to understand their struggles (particularly those who were made single again due to marital difficulties).

The attitudes of some toward the singles in our churches can be challenged from our pulpits. While some would encourage singles by telling them that we are complete in Christ, yet in the same breath, they make singles feel incomplete by asking if they are ever going to marry. Single men are often viewed as lacking in “macho-ness” if they have reached a certain age and are still unattached.

Maybe we can encourage more married couples to welcome our singles into the church and into their homes. Maybe it is helpful to remind everyone from time to time that Jesus and Paul were single. And their being single did not have any diminishing effects on their ministries – indeed, it helped them. I remember some years back when I was a ministerial trainee (single person at that time) and after giving a sermon, one man approached me to thank me for the message, only to say that “Your message could have been more powerful if you were married.” And yet my sermon was on a point of doctrine, and even after years of marriage, I still do not know how my marital status could have made the message any better. But this illustrates the bias that some people have against singleness.

Maybe we can organize more activities that would cater to all adults whether married or un-married. I remember in 1995 and 1996 when our church organized a 130 km relay marathon. Weeks of training, practice and discussions over how the event would be carried out bonded people from all ages. When the group reached the end of the relay, it was a celebration for the whole church family. Being single at that time, I thoroughly enjoyed the natural integration of church members in our collective effort to finish the race.

Work on building stable marriages and families

The reason that some young people are single is because we married people have failed to set a good example. Our young people need a clear demonstration of stable marriages and families. Due to societal influence, most of the young adults have started subscribing to distorted and nonbiblical views of marriage. This is where their experience in previous relationships becomes more the rule in guiding their relationships, and they do not look to the Word of God for guidance.

Teaching them about healthy marriage and families and modeling these to them is a big responsibility we have for our young people and singles to have a balanced perspective on married and family relationships. Additionally, we can encourage the fathers in our church to be more active in parenting and for couples to be more involved in marriage building. Nothing could be more discouraging for a single person who may be struggling with intimacy issues that to see married couples who are unhappy together or are living as “married singles.”

Encourage our singles to be active in their faith

We can help our singles by modeling our faith and trust in God for our present and future needs, by helping them deal with their personal problems and struggles, and encouraging them to reach out to others in a spirit of giving and friendship. We can coach them into evaluating their life goals periodically. We can remind them to work on developing a balanced life that combines all aspects including worship, work, play, rest and periods of being in community and solitude. Being active and involved in meaningful activities would greatly help a single person find a significant niche in our church life.

Inspire ministries to singles

While integration into church life is an important concern, there are programs we can have to meet the unique needs of singles. Our activities must be determined by a balanced view of singleness. Activities that do not emphasize matchmaking or dating, and those that are sensitive to the personal and spiritual needs of the singles, would be more effective. Our programs may be crafted to appeal to their varying interests and individual differences. For example, the needs of an older widow are different from those of an unmarried college student. Our ministries to them may focus on teaching, discipling, worship, social activities and opportunities for service.

Singleness is not an affliction, and neither is it impairment for many singles that are living fulfilling and productive lives. While some of the struggles they face are not isolated from what married people encounter, there are however unique challenges in being single. To be a single person is not to be second class or second best. Our singles have every potential for developing full, meaningful, Christ-centered lifestyles. The church and our individual families can affirm our singles and help foster this reality.

 

I was sitting in a meeting when the inspiration for this struck me… I blogged this while in a meeting today.

Merriam – Webster online dictionary gives this definition:

scaffolds

One entry found.

Main Entry:

scaf·fold Listen to the pronunciation of scaffold
Pronunciation:
\ˈska-fəld alsoˌfōld\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French scaffald, alteration of Old French eschaafauz, escafaut, alteration of chaafaut, from Vulgar Latin *catafalicum — more at catafalque
Date:
14th century
1 a: a temporary or movable platform for workers (as bricklayers, painters, or miners) to stand or sit on when working at a height above the floor or ground b: a platform on which a criminal is executed (as by hanging or beheading) c: a platform at a height above ground or floor level2: a supporting framework
The above definition highlighted to me the similarities we share with the scaffolds. For one, the scaffolds are constructed with an end-view in mind. No builder would just build scaffoldings and say “it is done!” When you see a scaffold, you know that something is going to be built and you can see if it is really happening or not.
Similary, our lives are meant to be scaffolds as well. We have been born and placed here with an end-view in mind. Discovering the purpose of our lives and what we can significantly contribute is of utmost importance. This is a fitting response to the many cries for significance in their lives.
There is that nature of “temporariness” as well. Once the building is finished, the scaffolds are taken down. Can you imagine a scaffold demanding to remain even if the building is already finished. Scaffolds are meant to be taken down. In the same way, our lives are meant to be”taken down” to give way to others. Our lives are meant to be building blocks so that the lives of others are built – up. There is also a great sense of temporariness in life as we enter different seasons of our lives.
And as scaffolds, we do not stand alone… we need other scaffolds to become effective and to be able to reach more people.
Would you be willing to be a scaffold for others?
Would you be willing to be set-up temporarily so that people may use you to stand on? Or would you choose to be a scaffold where the lives of other people are torn down or like criminals of old, beheaded? I pray not.
This week, someone asked me if I could be his mentor. I was humbled by such request. I pray that I would be one of the effective scaffolds God would use in order for him to realize and achieve the apex of his potential. I know that there is a sense of temporariness in this mentoring relationship, but I pray that the significance of this relationship would extend beyond the borders of this lifetime.

On Spiritual Direction

March 31, 2008

red-boulders.jpg

Photograph by Norman Aquino

“Spiritual direction… spares us the hassle of quick-fix, over-programmed, simplistic solutions. It meets the genuine felt need among Christians who earnestly desire to be guided by the Word of God from immaturity to maturity, from confusion to understanding, from complexity to simplicity. True spiritual direction does not complicate life, it clarifies it.”  – Douglas Webter

Thank you Lord for the mentors you have sent to help me find my way. Thank you for the simple ways by which they made clear things that were very obscure for me then. Thank you for their guidance. I do not see many of them anymore but I celebrate in my heart the imprints of their lives in mine….

On Meditation

March 30, 2008

“Why do I meditate?

Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me. I can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Excerpts from a recent email a friend send to our small band of brothers spanning more than 24 years. We have struggled through our careers, relationships, families and yet despite all that, have forged a friendship that is a source of affirmation and encouragement. We made a covenant to come together at least once a year, particularly during the month of August. What an empowering email. How about you? Have you discovered your passion?

Those were really trying times for me both professionally and personally. I went through dark and uncertain times yet as they always do, I emerged out of it more enlightened and strengthened personally, recharged and more motivated professionally.

The down side started last October. Grabe ang pressure kasi wala kming forecast and management, as usual, pinipiga kami. I was real real close to resigning and was deeply contemplating on transferring to another company. Yet I moved on, day by day, night by night, though a litte depressed and discouraged. I was aching for a change somewhere partly maybe because I was burned out (Remember when we got together last August that we just closed another JPY 340M project for the Ayala’s electonics firm). Partly maybe because I wanted to make more money so there was an urge to search for greener pastures. I was ready at that time to consider a lower salary job but with commissions. Overall, I was unstable at that point. Low morale, distracted and out of focus most of the time. Even during the Japan trip in December, I was not my usual self.

I took a few days leave around the end of December to search myself an meditate internally. Come January, I came back to work refreshed and charged up. While still there was no good outlook for sales, I started to work with the enthusiasm of a neophyte. I visited again customers here and there. I went back to basics. In my mobile time, I found great strength in the music I play in my car. I reverted to some old high school 80’s music and day by day, it strengthened me and took me out of the doldrums. I also revisited the old Karate Kid movies (1 & 2), thanks to Limewire and saw the movies in a different perspective and in a new light.

Somewhere along the way, come February, I managed to clinch the most important deal of my professional sales career, get a new account. Not just a local one but a big Taiwanese conglomerate which has plants in Thailand, China (3 sites) and Taiwan. It was a career defining deal and it was the moment that finally snapped me out of my slump. Yes, the deal itself wasn’t that big – US$ 586K (roughly PHP 24M) and the margin was very small, yet, it brought a different person out of me. The real salesman surfaced, defied the odds (I beat two major players in this entry level equipment market), persevered and did not quit, but most of all, created a strong relationship with a new client.

The aftermath of this landmark deal earned me instant recognition amongst all of our sites and even up to our HQ. Now, every body wants to know how I did it. Yes, the big deals with the Ayala group were good, but the account was already there when I arrived and joined the company 8 years ago. This was different. This was pure marketing development and when asked about it, I told them that this was 4 years in the making.


But the real big and profound end result of the deal was that of self discovery and enlighthenment for me. Like when the Apostle Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) was suddenly struck by very strong ray of light in his journey and was blinded and afterwards emerged out as a totally different person, it was a similar experience. Suddenly, I knew who I am and what I will be for the rest of my career. I decided I am not resigning and search for greener pastures. I decided to stay put and finish my career here and build on my name and reputation here.

Well, the reason I’m all sharing this with you is that I know all of us go through these types of situations and stages in life. The concept of being a square peg in around hole is the fitting description. Many people just have this job because they have to but they did not necessarily want. For my case, I believe I was for the past 7 and a half years in this company (until that moment). It was just a job for me because I need it for personal reasons. But it was not what I liked. The passion was not there.

Now, things are different. This is the real Rommel. I am proud to say I am a salesman. I am passionate in what I do. I now welcome any challenge and feel that the sky is the limit to anything I want to do. I do not fear failure. I press forward, unrelenting in doing whatever i needed. I do not need to be motivated. I just go out and sell, develop and establish new accounts and business relationships. And most of all, I am now happy and contented in what I do. I’m not interested in making more money than what I need. I don’t care anymore if I get promoted out of this deal or not though my boss has already recommended me for promotion as early as 3 weeks ago. I’m more interested in maximizing my time and resources so that I can spend more important time with my family.

My brothers, I hope that all of you have identified yourselves also. I hope my experience can help you also in your personal journey in life. I’ll share with you more when we get to meet again. I’m scheduled to go to Tokyo by the last week of April to accompany one prospective client (big car electronics company) to one of our principal’s sites.

My regards to all,

Rommel

(the following article was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduate class in psychopathology and counseling class)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE

WHAT IS ADHD?

ETIOLOGY OF ADHD

THE NATURE OF THE DISORDER

ADHD SOCIETAL ISSUES

WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR ADHD?

ADHD IN THE PHILIPPINES – WHAT CAN WE DO?

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PARENTS OF AN ADHD CHILD IN THE

COUNTRY

REFERRENCES

Preface

I have two unforgettable encounters with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I wish I knew then what I know now about this disorder. My past experiences with ADHD provided the faces and the voices as I researched the material, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for my Psychopathology and Counseling Class. I went through the materials while hearing Mike G. at the back of my mind, and the concerned questions of the parents of ADHD children I got to meet earlier this year.

Writing this paper made me want to go back to four years ago and tell Mike G. that now, I understand what he felt and the shame he tried to hide. Writing this paper made me want to retrace several months so I can encourage a worried father that his ADHD son has a good future ahead of him – but this will entail more understanding and sacrifice on his part. If I knew then what I know now, I would have offered lavish praises to a mother who sacrificed her growing career in Singapore to be with her son who has ADHD.

What I encountered here are the issues they continually face. How their child is going to be properly diagnosed? What can they do as parents? What does the future hold for their child who cannot control his impulses? While I cannot tell all their stories – I would like to write about Mike. The very first person that showed me what it is like to live in an ADHD world.

I met Mike G. when I was working as a Counselor at the 1994 Summer Educational Program of the Worldwide Church of God in Orr, Minnesota. Mike, who was from Pennsylvania, came into Dorm 5B along with 23 other teens to form part of the population of 288 teens for that session. With his thick eyeglasses and his gangly frame and his preponderance for reading sci-fi fictions, he did not leave such an impression – just a 16 –year old with the need for regular medications. Part of the instructions I received from the camp nurse was a duty to remind Mike to consistently take his medications everyday right after our breakfast.

I did not stumble into this ADHD secret until after the first week, when I had to check again all their medical forms and see how they would be divided for their 4-day canoe trip to the boundary waters of Canada and US. Based on what I have seen and what they can do, I still would have to assess their medical fitness from the forms duly accomplished before they came. Mike’s medical form caught my attention because of the large four capital letters written on it at the bottom: “ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.”

Due to my medical ignorance on the topic – I was amazed how someone could be sick because he is not getting enough attention. And so during the rest of the camp – I paid Mike a lot of attention and gave him tons of encouragement and praises – thinking that I was helping this teen get over whatever it was that was making him sick.

Little did I know that the medication he was took everyday right after breakfast, was necessary for him to take an active part at camp – otherwise, he was just going to be totally hyperactive and would not be able to focus at all.

Later on, I would realize that it was something would call for more than a thorough encouragement from a youth worker like me no matter how well intentioned one can be.

The second encounter with ADHD occurred early this year – on January 10,1999. I was asked by a physical therapist friend to give a pep talk to parents of children with ADHD. At that time, I still knew very little of what it was like for them

as parents of ADHD children – so I focused my little talk on how God sends encouragement to us even in very specific ways. Since I did not have much experience to draw upon, I told them about my encounter with Mike and the lessons I learned from not knowing what ADHD was all about.

That is why this paper is not for medical professionals though the sources have been medical books and medical centers’ websites and the like. Same reason why this paper is not for psychiatrists who may have already some deeply ingrained concepts and procedures for treating ADHD.

Rather…

This paper is for those wanting to understand what parents go through and the stigma they initially feel when their child is diagnosed with ADHD.

This paper is for youth workers who may have to deal with teenagers struggling to find wholeness in their quest for meaning and significance in their lives.

This paper is for fathers and mothers everywhere who are seeking some answers without the condemnation of those who are in ignorance.

This paper is for someone whose life may have been unalterably changed by that ADHD diagnosis.

Hear his voice.

“For many of us, that So many of us are recovering addicts of one kind or another. Addictions seem to go with ADD, although not all ADDers get caught up in it. Some are lucky. Some of us carry scars – physical, emotional, and maybe even viral-, which last longer than the addiction.

And some never recover at all.

Overcoming that is as much of a resurrection as can be had in this life.

In many ways, ADD management is a lot like addiction recovery. Even if there are no “chemicals” involved, it still comes down to managing behavior. The meds help, but they cannot work without a commitment to management.

Commitment to management has to also include a commitment to a “higher source” of power.

For me, it includes a commitment to God.

I wish that the people who run churches could know how much we need them. We are the ones who made the Sunday School teachers flinch. As adults, we are the ones who ask the questions that “believers just aren’t supposed to ask”. We have

trouble with authority, structure and rules… all of which pretty much define the state of Christianity today. Yet we need what the church has to offer.

We need the acceptance, even when we are not real acceptable.

We need the accountability.

We need the hope.

We need the resurrection”

Together, let us seek some answers.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is one of the more researched and studied of all psychological disorders of childhood today. Yet, despite the advances achieved in medical researches worldwide and the voluminous materials, there still exist gaps between diagnosis, treatment or management, and support for ADHD sufferers and their caregivers. Various medical tests are still being done to connect all the gaps and integrate all the ramifications involved in recent findings.

ADHD has been defined as one of the externalizing behaviors used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)(American Psychiatric Association, 1994) to connote negativistic behaviors that co-occur during childhood. These behaviors are collectively called the Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Disorders or DSM-IV gave the definition of ADHD as follows:

A: Either (1) or (2)

1. six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level.

2. six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsitivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

B. Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.

C. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school or at home).

D. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

E. The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

Etiology of ADHD

Over the years, a lot of factors have been thought of as the contributing factors that caused ADHD. Some of these factors were diet, toxins, allergies, prenatal and birthing injuries and even parenting practices. The past decade of research has led to the inescapable conclusion that ADHD (Barkley 1994) is not primarily a disturbance in attention as its name suggests. It is however a delay in the development of response inhibition. Recent medical evidences cited from further ADHD studies (Duff, 1999) are beginning to scientifically consider ADHD, a genetically caused neurological disorder manifested in abnormal brain morphology. This abnormal morphology is associated with disregulation and underarousal of the frontal lobes of the brain. Such disregulation and underarousal may lead to inefficiency in the abilities necessary for self-regulation and organization of behavior. Disturbances of which, present profound challenges for ADHD sufferers with regards to future-oriented behavior across time. In a series of medical studies conducted in 1996, (Crawford and Barabasz, 1996) the hypothesis that the frontal lobe dysfunction is present in the ADHD cases was proven, when an experiment was done on a select group of 10 children that met the criteria for age, medication and non-participation in neurotherapy and clear diagnosis of ADHD. In this experiment, each child was hooked up to an EEG monitor and performed four specific tasks:

1. The child looked at a picture of flowers in the field

2. The child listened to a tape-recorded story about dolphins with closed eyes

3. The child had to solve simple addition and subtraction problems

4. The children read silently to themselves.

All four tasks entailed concentration and the EEG measurement would indicate the attentiveness of the children toward each task.

The result of the study showed that the ADHD children “had greater right than left hemisphere low alpha activity at frontal sites while listening to a story, and at temporal 1, and central sites while doing arithmetic” (Crawford and Barabasz, 1996). However children without ADHD did not show any differences at all.

The difference in the EEG magnitudes reveal that the “right fronto-centro-temporal region is not as cognitively activated when compared with the left hemisphere of children without ADHD.

In a recent study of 570 twins (Duff, 1999) using objectives measures of attentiveness and hyperactivity, genetics was found to have accounted 50% of the observed variance and the hereditability for ADHD at 64%. Various medical researchers have rejected the idea of a multi-factorial polygenic factors (a model of

inheritance in which more than one gene participates in the process of determining a given characteristic), non-familial environment and cultural factors as causal agents of ADHD.

Thus in a developmental –neurological approach to ADHD (Barkley, 1995 p. 64), a larger framework is needed to understand all the implications involved in ADHD. It being a disorder of self-control, willpower and the organizing and directing of behavior toward the future, calls for a multi-model assessment and treatment and management and a strong partnership of medical doctors, parents, teachers and their caregivers.

The Nature of this Disorder

ADHD is such a perplexing disorder that coping in itself presents a unique challenge for parents. One of the more frustrating things about ADHD for parents is that it evolves as the child grows up. What to expect from a growing up child with ADHD will vary from one individual to the other. To make life even more challenging for parents of ADHD children, all of the primary symptoms of ADHD change not only with the child’s growth but also with the situation. Additional problems in the following areas may be likely to happen: intelligence, school performance, physical development, congenital problems, hearing and speech, vision, motor skills, physical appearance and health and medical problems.

Epidemiological studies (Barkley, 1990) indicate that approximately 3-5% of all children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD. And in recent years, millions more of children have been diagnosed with this disorder.

ADHD Societal Issues

According to the July 18,1994 issue of Time Magazine in an article “Life in Overdrive: Doctors Say Huge Kids and Adults Have Attention Deficit Disorder. Is it for Real?” ADHD affects as many as 3 ½ million American children and it is two to three times more likely to be diagnosed in boys rather than girls. The article goes on to say that there was a 390% increase in the prescription of MPH (known more commonly as Ritalin) from 1990 to 1994.

The rise in the prescription of methylphenidate and other psychotropic medication therapies for ADHD children in recent years stirred up a lot of public and professional concern about the increasing frequency of the diagnosis, and has prompted examination of this complex issue.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that “there is little evidence of widespread overdiagnosis of ADHD or of widespread overprescription of methylphenidate (Goldman, 1998). Yet on the other hand, the International Narcotics Board and the Drug Enforcement Administration warn (Breggin, 1999) that 90% of the world’s methylphenidate is consumed in the United States, and that, 10% to 20% of boys aged 6 – 14 years are being diagnosed and given methylphenidate. The INB and DEA also warned that more high school seniors are abusing the drug than receiving it through physicians, – methylphenidate being one of the nation’s most commonly stolen and diverted substances.

The use of stimulant medication for symptom management of ADHD has become very popular (Duff, Braithwaite, 1999). The use of psychostimulants is definitely without any doubt; the most commonly used medical treatment for children with ADHD. The most common among psychostimulants is the drug called methylphenidate. While dosage of this varies from individual to individual, it is begun at the lowest recommended dose. It is usually administered two or three times daily. Dosage is then increased gradually according to the achieved maximum symptom relief with hopefully, minimal side effects. The effects of the aforementioned medication can be seen in only after 30 minutes of ingestion and lasts up to 4 –6 hours. (Flick, 1996). Aside from methylphenidate which was said to have reduced up to 70% of hyperactivity (Barkley, 1990), other medications such as anti-depressants are being used such as Norpramin or Pertofrane, Tofranil, Elavil, and Prozac being the more commonly prescribed from the aforementioned list (Barkley, 1995). Like the stimulants, the anti-depressants are taken orally once or twice a day. Unlike the stimulants, they do not wash out of the body very quickly and must build up in the bloodstream over longer periods of time. Some of the side effects noted through anti-depressant medications are slower heart rate and may increase the potential for seizures especially for children with seizure history. Normally, an electrocardiogram (EKG) should first be done to test the heartbeat before putting a child on a regular anti-depressant therapy. Other observed effects are the following: dryness of the mouth, some blurring of vision, constipation and near sightedness which can be remedied by lowering the dosage.

Another issue raised was that the diagnosis of ADHD while valid for children 4 – 6 years old, have not necessarily been validated to children below 4 years old, (Rappley, Mullan, Alvarez, Gardiner, 1999). One neurologist (Baughman, 1999) laments that “the definition of ADHD has changed over time, samples of children with ADHD who were diagnosed according to DSM-III-R criteria include children who do not meet DSM IV criteria.” What is really sad to note here is that while many people know about ADHD, there is little consistency in the way it is diagnosed or treated. Various medical organizations are pressed for medical guidelines to be used in diagnosing ADHD. The National Attention Deficit Disorder Association based in Ann Harbor, Michigan has published a diagnostic guidelines for mental health practitioners despite their admission of the paradox that exists with regards to ADHD being both over diagnosed and under diagnosed (See Appendix). The NDDA would also concur that “ one of the most critical steps in properly addressing the significant impact that ADHD has on contemporary society is to establish a standard of care for its diagnosis and treatment. While gaps exist in our knowledge about the precise cause of ADHD and controversy abounds about aspects of its diagnoses and treatment, research and clinical experience over the past decades have been sufficient to begin to identify certain principles regarding the evaluation and treatment of ADHD.” (NADDA,1998). Other medical organizations like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are all beginning to develop their guidelines. Even the makers of Ritalin, Ciba Pharmaceuticals in Summit, New Jersey plans to issue guidelines in the diagnostic assessment and methylphenidate therapy of ADHD children.

These are but some of the growing medical issues surrounding ADHD. In one of the studies conducted (Rappley, Mullan, Alvarez, Eneli, Wang, Gardiner,1999), the reason for he preponderance of ADHD and medication diagnosis was because physicians were responding to the urgent needs of the children and their families for comfort and relief from the turmoil caused by ADHD, particularly issues of safety and development for a hyperactive child. By conferring a diagnosis of ADHD and its medications – they were merely ensuring the safety of these children who are high risk to injuries.

What Lies Ahead for ADHD?

With the established fact that ADHD is associated with underlying neurological dysfunction involving brainwaves(Duff, Braithwaite,1999) researchers have been developing techniques to enable children and adults retrain their brainwaves. This technique which was started in the mid 70’s is called EEG biofeedback, and it is now called neurotherapy. There is a growing medical literature attesting to the effectiveness of neurotherapy for ADHD. Pioneers among the researches done are Richard Silberstein of the Brain Sciences Institute, Barry Sterman of UCLA and Joel Lubar of Tennessee University who have researched neurotherapy for more than 25 years.

While an explanation of the scientific basis for neurotherapy is way beyond the scope of this paper, a simple description of neurotherapy is still in order.

Electronic instruments are used by a person ( sensor is placed on the scalp) to learn to exert control over bodily processes (Cranton,1999) normally controlled automatically and unconsciously. Some examples of EEG are being able to decrease the tension of specific muscles, decrease skin temperature, lower blood pressure and influence brainwave patterns. An electronic device senses the activity and provides the person with the necessary information in signal form. A person thus learns to control by increasing or decreasing the firing of the signal – and hence also learns to increase or decrease the bodily function that specific signal represents. This learning is associated with neuromodulatory control(Duff, Braithwaite,1999).

Neurotherapy seems to be the most promising treatment for ADHD sufferers today. Despite its record of proven effectiveness in a variety of conditions like PMS, alcoholism, head injuries and sleep problems, neurotherapy remains relatively unknown ( Cranton, 1999). Sessions lasts for 30 minuts and a regular patient might require 30 – 40 sessions to complete the treatment. The major difference between neurotherapy and medication is that the former promotes self-regulation (Duff,1999) and self-empowerment while the latter promotes dependency. Neurotherapy is more expensive in the long run, but it has no recorded adverse side effects. Patients demonstrating quantitative EEG and behavioral characteristics (Lubar,1999) have more promising results with neurotherapy. For more helpful information on neurotherapy – see appendix 2.

What About ADHD in the Philippines – what can we do?

Sadly, ADHD is not addressed as much as it has been in other countries particularly, the United States. Here in the Philippines, the stigma attached to having a child labeled as “different” is more than enough sometimes, for parents and the rest of the family to just keep quiet about the ADHD in the family than to seek professional help. Those who can afford to seek medical and professional help find themselves being given the runaround in most hospitals. One mother confessed that it took more than 2 years before her son was finally diagnosed with ADHD, after spending almost a fortune in hospital visits and consultations. The country has very few child developmentalists who can properly do child-assessments, which are very necessary for the management and treatment of ADHD among young children. Those who can afford “treatment” may have to content themselves with whatever medication the doctors can prescribe. Another thing that plague parents of ADHD children is guilt. Parents who can afford children-group therapy would send their children to more therapies than the child could handle (Yap,1999) thinking that more therapy is better for the child. Those who cannot afford to do anything are also riddled with guilt because the unfortunate condition of the offspring is seen as “punishment” for the wrong deeds done in the past.

What is clearly needed here in the Philippines is a focused attention on ADHD and the diagnosis measurement needed. A campaign for information dissemination of the ADHD attributes would help parents come out of their miseries and admit their helplessness in dealing with this situation. Several attempts to find any WebPages or websites about ADHD in the Philippines yielded zero hits. What was truly astounding is that there is no center, clinics, hospitals, whether private or government owned that care to address ADHD here in this country. Hospitals and clinics specializing in pediatrics can form a professional network of medical practitioners that can help perform a multi-modal assessment of ADHD here in the Philippines. Finally, a network of parents of ADHD should be established like a support group where various parental concerns and issues could be freely discussed.

My Recommendations to the Parents of an ADHD Child in the Philippines

Learning about ADHD was a very eye opening experience. It was sobering when one realizes all the implications that take place when a precious child has been diagnosed with this neurological disorder. One can only imagine the turmoil inside the hearts and minds of the parents – and even the young person with ADHD, not knowing why things were happening the way they are happening around him. One ADHD wrote how it felt to suffer from this disorder by saying “ In my case, I wasn’t purposefully obnoxious or unruly, I was just full of energy and had a hard time restraining myself when a thought popped into my head. When I thought
something, I did it (or said it). As a parent of an ADHD child, please get as much information as you can. This may not as easy as your American counterparts where there is easy access to the information. You may search the Internet and use key words related to your search such as “ADHD, treatment, diagnosis” and the like. What you will be able to read from the information highway will be current and would reflect the present researches done that otherwise might not be available just yet from a local library or bookstore. There are sites that will give you other links where you can read about the struggles of other parents and their success stories. There are even Christian websites for ADHD and they offer encouraging information and even Bible Studies for parents in special situations like ADHD.

After the personal information gathering comes the disclosure. Please seek the help and emotional support of others around you. There may be Christian counselors and church workers who may be able to help you personally deal with issues you face as a parent of an ADHD child. It is time that we address ADHD in our midst. It is a neurological disorder that is in no way, connected to your past and you’re parenting style. It is a neurological disorder, which can be modulated through environmental factors. Keep up your hope. You do not have to be alone in your struggle with ADHD – because there are millions of parents worldwide that have been given this special task by God to take care of His ADHD children. And you are one of them.

References:

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Duff,Jacques.(1999). The Etiology of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence of a neurological basis and treatment implications. Behavioural Neurotherapy Clinic

http://www.adhd.com.au/ADHDaeti.html

Crawford,H.J., & Barabasz, M.(1996 ) Quantitative EEG Magnitudes In Children With and Without Attention Deficit Disorder During Neurological Screening and Cognitive Tasks” . Child Study Journal, 26(1),71-86.

Barkley, R.A. (1994). Foreword: ADHD In the Schools Assessment and Intervention Strategies. The Guilford Press, New York

Barkley, R.A. (1995). Taking Charge of ADHD : The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. The Guilford Press, New York

Barkley, R.A.(1990). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford Press

Rappley M, Mullan P, Alvarez F, Eneli I, Wang J, Gardiner J.(1999). Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and the Use of Psychotropic Medication in Very Young Children. Archive of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 153: 1039-1045.

Baughman, F.(1999).Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder . Letters to the Editor. JAMA, April, Vol. 281,No.16 p.1490.

http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues

Goldman LS, Genel M, Bezman RJ, Slanetz PJ,(1996). For the Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association. Diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. JAMA.279: 1100-1107.

Breggin ,P.(1999). Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder . Letters to the Editor. JAMA, Vol. 281,No.16 p.1490.

http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues

http://www.add.org Guiding Principles for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The National Attention Deficit Disorder Attention, 1998.

Duff J, Braithwaite,K, Neurotherapy for ADHD. Copyright Behavioral Neurotherapy Clinic. http://www.adhd.com.au/neuro.html

Flick, G.(1996). Power Parenting for Children with ADD/ADHD. A Practical Parent’s Guide for Managing Difficult Behaviors. The Center for Applied Research In Education, New York.

Cranton, E.(1999) EEG Neurotherapy. Mount Rogers Clinic

http://www.drcranton.com/eegbio.htm

Lubar,J. (1999). Position Statement for the treatment of ADD/ADHD with Neurofeedback. http://www.biof.com/position-html

Yap, A. (1999). Interview conducted by the author. Organization of Philippine Therapist and Rehabilitation Center, Manila.

ADDed Thoughts http://add.miningco.com/health/diseases/add/library/weekly/aa033197.htm

laying-on-of-hands.pngIt was about 3 in the afternoon and the young man in front of me was shaking as he fought back the tears. I looked into his eyes and waited for any confirmation if I should continue. In between the muffled sobs, he nodded his head as he formed a fist with his right hand and lightly pounded it on his left chest. He was trying to be brave. So was I. I continued, “Joseph, in front of all these witnesses, have you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord?” “Yes…” he quietly said as tears ran down his cheeks. “Because of your repentance and acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, I now baptize you into the Body of Christ….” In a matter of seconds, we immersed him into the water and he rose from the watery grave to become one of the many who returned to the Father that day.

I have done many baptisms since I entered the ministry ten years ago, but I can honestly say that the baptisms of the young people in the summer camps have always been far more special to me. Counseling them and presenting the gospel to them, seeing how they respond in tears as the Scripture is read, are things I always cherish as part of the camp experience. In my local church in Sta. Rosa, there were five of them who accepted Christ and were baptized. My heart swelled with so much love and pride for all of them as they were immersed into the water.

There are many times when the preparation for the camp saps all our energies. Sometimes the financial aspect of the camp preparation can make one feel a little more desperate. Sometimes the behavior of the campers and some of the staff members could make the camp experience a little more challenging than usual. But whenever I am approached by a camper for baptismal counseling, I am always gently reminded that this is what we all work hard for. The stress of the camp preparation is made all worth it whenever I look into the eyes of the young people searching for answers that can only be found in the saving grace of the Lord. Some of the campers would approach me and ask for private counseling while most would prefer the comfort of being part of a group. It is not uncommon to be counseling 15 – 20 young people at the same time, answering their questions, praying for them as they realize their need for the saving grace of our Lord. It is always a humbling experience. Sharing the Gospel is a privilege that the Lord, in His compassionate mercy, has given us to do. And in the sharing of His life, death and resurrection, something inside of us is always changed by the experience. The privilege of performing their water baptism is something I regard as special. I will not forget this young man who drove all the way to Laguna with his school friends to be baptized where I reside. There was another young man, who is now part of the Clayground Ministry who really requested that he be baptized as the sun was setting in the afternoon. It had been raining that day, but we joined him in that request – and soon enough the sky cleared up and at 5:45 PM, we rushed to the water as God gave him one of the most beautiful sunsets for his water baptism in the beaches of Calatagan, Batangas.

But there are times when it seems that the hearts of the young people have been hardened too much by the circumstances they are in . I remember a summer camp in Palawan where majority of the boys in one of the dorms I handled for a dorm chat, admitted using shabu even before getting there. There were many nights when I wrestled in prayer with God asking for Him to convict them in their hearts. I remember waking up at 5 in the morning asking God to present Himself to the campers; otherwise our labor would have been in vain. I did not see anyone of them get baptized, but before I left that camp to set up the one in Luzon, I was handed a note surreptitiously written on a small piece of paper saying, “ Kuya Rex, ipagdasal mo ako, gusto ko na talagang magbago at labanan ang droga… maraming salamat na may kagaya mo na nagpapakilala sa amin kay Hesus kahit pakiramdam ko hindi nya ako tatanggapin…” I was deep in my prayers for that anonymous young man as we rode the van for our 2-hour drive back to Puerto Princesa on our way to Manila.

This year, a total of 128 youth baptisms took place in our summer camps. It was quite a harvest. Many of them are back in their local congregations diligently attending discipleship classes, being mentored by significant adults who deeply care for the spiritual growth of the young people. I know that some of them are back in their challenging situations and god-less environments where their young faith may be overwhelmed. But I trust that the Lord will lift them up, protect and care for them, defend and nurture them whenever they feel isolated and conquered by their circumstances.

Someone asked me recently why it is easier for the young people to commit their lives to Christ than those who are a lot older. I struggled for an answer to that question but the reality of the Scripture explains this to us in a more profound way. “Unless we become like little children, we will never enter the Kingdom in Heaven …” (Matthew 18: 1 – 5).

Two things would help characterize the attitudes of the young people: their dependence and their trust. When they finally realize that our Father is the only one they can solely depend on and trust, these young people, who are oftentimes in need of someone they can totally rely on, can easily put their trust in our loving Father whose love for them is both unconditional and eternal. This is a big contrast to some of us older people who may have the resources, creativity and network of friends to rely on.

Joseph’s baptism was God’s gift to me. When I first saw him after my college years, he was only 2 years old. I loved him at first sight and I anxiously counted the years when I could take him to summer camp so he could also experience the love from new friends and mentors. I was ecstatic when he attended camp with three cousins and they all experienced what SEP was all about.

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The night before his baptism, I asked Joseph again why he is committing his life to the Lord. A part of me wanted to be sure. I still feel the lump on my throat whenever I picture him as he responded to my question. With a sincere, boyish and squeamish look, he put his one arm around my shoulder and said “Uncle… I need Jesus, too…”

– written May 2004. Now Joseph will be entering his senior year in highschool. Lord , always draw him close to you. You are his father. Despite all the challenges he encounters as a young man, I pray that he will find his joy and peace in his communion with You.