By Eileen FitzGerald
June 7, 2010
Here’s just one statistic that Danbury school psychologist Charles Manos worries about: 42 percent of all kids in foster care are taking three or more mood-altering drugs.
“All kids in foster care have some story of trauma, like abuse or neglect, so we need to ask the question `How are we dealing with trauma?'” Manos asked.
Overall, children are receiving more prescriptions than ever before to treat medical, emotional and psychological problems, according to a May report from Medco Health Solutions.
More than one in four children with health insurance in the U.S., and nearly 30 percent of all children from 10 to 19, take at least one prescription to treat a chronic condition. The most substantial increases over the past nine years have been in antipsychotic, diabetes and asthma drugs, according to the Medco report.
In some cases, students take medications at home. In many cases, school nurses dispense it.
For instance, Danbury schools health coordinator Sue Levasseur said 80 middle school students receive asthma medication each day at school and another 14 to 15 children receive a psychotropic drug at school.
Part of the school system’s job is to educate parents, said Manos, who has worked in local schools for more than 30 years and also has a private practice.
“I think we have become a society that says it’s OK to medicate the symptoms of kids. Medication is easier. I think as a society we are quick to change behavior rather than understand it,” Manos said.
Behavior medications can be destructive if used improperly, he said.
“Say there is abuse or trauma, and we don’t do an adequate analysis. Then we silence the symptoms through the medications,” Manos said.
“The fact is that medication does not treat a disorder, it treats the symptoms of the manifestation, and people don’t understand that. I think there is a myth that medication treats the disorder.”