Dealing with Crisis
The mass shootings at Virginia Tech again focus us on crises (and nightmares). CHADD expresses its deepest sympathies to the classmates, families, friends, university employees, and the greater community. Each of us turns to different natural supports—family, community, faith community—in locating places and people to help us mourn and cope. Our prayers are with the Blacksburg community.
Mental Health America, our sister association, issued thoughtful statements on the shootings: Virginia Tech Tragedy: Tips for Educators, Students and Parents. I refer you to these helpful documents, or you can call MHA at 800-969-6642 for more information.
I appreciated the comments Virginia Governor Tim Kaine made on CNN at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 17, in response to the already numerous policy and practice declarations by self-appointed experts. He said, "Take the crusade elsewhere and let us help Virginia Tech grieve." Why is it that as soon as a crisis hits, some have to declare their immediate understanding of why and what to do about it?
Shortly after hearing Gov. Kaine's observations I went to the Web site of the leading anti-psychiatry group. They had already posted a press release stating that the shooter “May Be 9th School Shooter Under the Influence of Psychiatric Drugs." It is so sad that in this time of mourning, we have the anti-psychiatry crusade declaring their monopoly on truth. In my church, mourning and bereavement take precedence over immediate press releases and posturing.
Prevention and Health Promotion
Last Friday, Tim MacGeorge, the director of the National Resource Center on AD/HD at CHADD and I attended the second annual open house at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD). CHADD's NRC is recognized and financed by CDC's NCBDDD. The mission of NCBDDD is to promote the health of babies, children, and adults and to enhance the potential for full productive living by all persons with challenges associated with disabilities. It is a pleasure to see a professionally trained work force attempting to increase the science and to translate the science into everyday practice.
The partnership between CHADD and the CDC promotes CHADD's mission to assist persons with AD/HD and related disorders. One of the current NCBDDD priorities is a campaign with the slogan, "Learn the Signs, Act Early." To date, CDC has done a good job of identifying the signs that possibly warrant responses, but they are still working on how to take meaningful action. We all have in common the effort to improve individual functioning and long-term outcomes for people with challenges in their lives.
"Science is the foundation that CDC is built on," one of the CDC officials stated. Their purpose is to take the science and promote healthy people and healthy places. CHADD is also science based. Our professional advisory board reaches consensus on what the published science states. This has led to some criticism of CHADD, as people of strong views and personal experience promote practices that are not grounded in the published science and accuse CHADD of being too inflexible. There is some truth to this description. But it quickly gets to be a slippery slope when practices not grounded in the published science are promoted.
We are trying to be more open, more understanding, and more flexible, while staying grounded in the published science. But sometimes we may not get the balance exactly correct. We use consensus decision-making, based on the published science expanded by the lived experience of consumers and their family members. We strive daily to be helpful and to get this balance right.
Ty and Yvonne Pennington at Conference
Looking ahead to CHADD's Annual International Conference, which will take place November 7-10, I am pleased to announce that Yvonne Pennington, mother of that lovable hunk-of-a-carpenter Ty Pennington, star of Extreme Makeover Home Edition and winner of two Emmys for outstanding reality programs, will talk about raising Ty and his brother in her presentation, Raising Amazing Kids. She will also accept the Ty Pennington Humanitarian Award at the 20th Anniversary Gala.