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The Special Ed Epidemic: What Is Happening To Our Children? Part 1 of 4

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WMP Note: In this 4-part series, World Mercury Project partner, Focus For Health,  examines the special needs epidemic and its effects on schools, the US economy, life after age 21 and the many theories that point to potential causes of the explosion of chronic disease and disability in our children.

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Pick up a paper anywhere in the world and you are more than likely to see a story about the special needs epidemic affecting public schools.

Recent headlines read “Wolf Creek Public Schools hires additional staff to work with severely disabled students” and “York school system nearly $1M over budget in special education spending,” and “7 EV teen suicides in 6 weeks alarm schools,” and, “How Vermont schools manage food allergies.”

If you take the time to read some of these disturbing articles, you will see quotes from school directors making comments like “What’s different from past years is the students we’ve received really do have severe, very particular learning needs that are well beyond what we would typically see. It caught us by surprise, for sure,” admits Jayson Lovell, Superintendent for Wolf Creek Public Schools. This school district is one example of districts needing to hire additional staff in order to accommodate a sharp rise in the number of students requiring services through IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) due to their severely complex special education needs.

Every child with or without special needs is affected, just as every tax payer, with or without a child with special needs, will bear the burden.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports disabilities affect 1 in 7 children. From the increased number of children requiring special education and related services to the increased number of health care professionals needed to care for children with chronic physical and mental health issues in the schools, school budgets are depleting rapidly. Fast-forward, when these children are adults, the workforce is affected, as is the housing industry. Every child with or without special needs is affected, just as every tax payer, with or without a child with special needs, will bear the burden.

According to The National Center for Educational Statistics, the percentage of youth ages 3-21 served by IDEA, a federal mandate which provides a free and appropriate education has risen significantly since 1990. Data from school years 1990/91 through 2004/05 showed 4.7 million, or 11 percent, of the total public school enrollment required special education services. By 2014/15, children and youth served under IDEA had risen to 6.6 million, or 13 percent, of the total public school enrollment. And it isn’t only a rise in special education demands; sadly, there is great demand for nurses and even health clinics on school property to manage the dramatic increase in children with chronic health conditions and mental health disorders as well.

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Over the past 2 decades, the number of children with chronic health conditions doubled from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.

With limited resources, public schools are dealing with an epidemic of children with various special needs including behavioral, learning, physical, and mental health disorders, as well as chronic health issues like severe food allergies, asthma, diabetes, autism, ADHD, seizures, and more. We read about it in our headlines, so why aren’t we asking, “What is happening to our children?”

Mental Illness

As referenced in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC in 2013, mental health disorders among children are described as “serious deviations from expected cognitive, social, and emotional development.”

According to this report, a total of 13–20% of children (<18 yrs. of age) living in the United States experiences a mental disorder in a given year. Among children aged 3-17 years, these disorders include:

Attention-deficit disorder = 6.8%
Behavior and Conduct Disorder = 3.5%
Anxiety = 3.0%
Depression = 2.1%
Autism Spectrum Disorder = 1.1%
Tourette ’s syndrome = 0.2% (amongst children 6-17 yrs. of age)

  • As many as 1 in every 33 children may be depressed. Depression in adolescents may be as high as 1 in 8.
  • In 2010, suicide was the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 12-17 yrs. The suicide rate for this age group was 4.5 suicides per 100,000.
  • It is estimated that 4.7% of adolescents aged 12–17 years reported an illicit drug use disorder in the past year and 4.2% had an alcohol abuse disorder in the past year.
  • Of the 100,000 teenagers in juvenile detention, an estimated 60% have behavioral, cognitive, or emotional problems.
  • Less than 1/3 of the children under age 18 who have a serious mental health problemreceive any mental health services.
  • Mental health disorders are said to be the most costly disorders to treat in children because of the impact on the child, family, and community, costing the US an estimated $247 billion dollars annually for health care, special education, juvenile justice and decreased productivity.

Mental health disorders in children can result in difficulties in school, at home, and with peer relationships. Studies show 40% children with mental health disorders also have a second mental health diagnosis and are also more likely to develop chronic health disorders including asthmadiabetes and epilepsy. They also have a greater risk for mental health disorders as adults which negatively affects productivity, increases substance abuse, and ultimately becomes a financial burden to the individual and society.

Autism

  • The CDC reports autism rates of 1 in 68 American children, up 30% from the 1 in 88rate reported in 2008, and more than double the 1 in 150 rate in 2000.
  • Autism affects 4-5 times as many boys than girls.
  • Compared to the general pediatric population, children with autism have higher rates of co-occurring psychiatric and medical illnesses including GI disorders, epilepsy, dyslipidemia, vision and hearing impairments, hypertension, autoimmune conditions, asthma, allergies, and others, extending across all age groups.
  • Economic costs for 2015 were at an estimated $268 billion in the United States.
  • A study published in 2015 in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders projects economic costs rising to $461 billion in 2025 if autism’s prevalence continues at today’s rates. Projected costs could exceed $1 trillion by 2025 if prevalence continues to rise at the same rate it has this past decade.
  • Direct costs include medical care, hospitalizations, special education, special therapies (occupational, speech and physical therapy), and paid caregivers. Indirect costs include lost productivity for family caregivers due to the inability to maintain employment while caring for affected individuals as well as lost wages and benefits.

ADHD

  • The National health Interview Survey (NHIS) 2011-2013 reported 9.5% of children ages 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • This study also reported the rate of ADHD in children aged 5–17 years increased significantly from 7.0% to 10.2% between 1997–1999 to 2012–2014.
  • Boys (13.3%) continue to be more than twice as likely as girls (5.6%) to have current ADHD.
  • According to a more recent population-based study using DSM-IV criteria, 15.5% of school children enrolled in Grades 1 to 5 have ADHD.
  • The economic cost of ADHD is reported to range between $143 billion to $266 billion in the US (adjusted to 2010 U.S. dollars) every year.
  • Of the total annual cost of ADHD, 26–27% was incurred by children ($38 billion–$72 billion).
  • Direct costs are inclusive of special education, special therapies (occupational, speech and physical therapy), school counseling, and disciplinary incidents. Other costs related to health care include primary care and specialty care visits, medications, emergency room visits, behavioral and emotional health care.

Food Allergies

  • Food allergies have been skyrocketing in the United States in the last fifteen years. According to the CDC, food allergies increased 50% between 1997 and 2011.
  • Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.
  • The CDC reported a 265% increase in the rates of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions in a ten year period.
  • Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in U.S. children.
  • The New York Times reports record sales growth for EpiPens, a life-saving medical device for those with food allergies.
  • Nearly 40% of children with food allergies have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis.
  • Private insurance claims for anaphylactic food reactions rose 377% from 2007 to 2016.
  • Researchers reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association state that the costs of food allergies, from medical care to food to pharmaceuticals, is $4,184 per child per year, costing our economy $25 billion, including lost productivity.

The economic burden to care for children with developmental and medical needs affects not only families, but school districts, federal and local government budgets, social security, health insurers, and the insured, as well as every tax-payer in our nation.

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html/
  2. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp 
  3. https://www.foodallergy.org/life-food-allergies/food-allergy-101/facts-and-statistics
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6433a11.htm
  5. http://www.chadd.org/understanding-adhd/about-adhd/data-and-statistics/general-prevalence.aspx
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058092/
  7. http://childhealthdata.org/docs/default-source/cahmi/asdchartbookfinal.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  8. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6202.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25911091
  10. https://bangordailynews.com/2017/09/27/news/york-school-system-nearly-1m-over-budget-in-special-education-spending/ 
  11. http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/ev-teen-suicides-in-weeks-alarm-schools/article_5a3bf82a-9fe6-11e7-9e50-7f4f87c5e0ec.html 
  12. http://digital.vpr.net/post/how-vermont-schools-manage-food-allergies#stream/0
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26183723

This concludes Part One of “The Special Ed Epidemic: What is Happening to our Children?” Part Two, “Burying our Heads and Crippling our Economy,” will explore these financial burdens, especially the responsibility on school districts to accommodate the ever-growing and expanding nature of the special needs population.

Written by By Sheri A. Marino, MA, CCC-SLP, from WMP Partner: Focus for Health

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Awareness

Study Reveals Popular Vaccine “May Kill More Children From Other Causes Than It Saves”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple studies have shown and emphasized that the DTP vaccine may actually kill more children than it protects from DTP. This is one of the latest to show it, known as the Mogensen study.

  • Reflect On:

    Reflect on the fact that this information is never really brought up within the mainstream medical community. All it takes is one CDC study to "debunk" several studies that show opposite results. What's really going on here? Is our health a priority?

There are numerous vaccine safety issues. It can boggle your mind how health authorities and pharmaceutical companies can deem them to be completely safe, necessary, and responsible for saving millions of lives. When people hear this, they usually just believe it without ever looking into it and doing their research, and don’t realize they are only presented with one side of the story. If you have 100 studies raising an issue with a vaccine, all it takes is one study from the CDC to say it’s safe, and that’s the research medical associations dish out to doctors as well as medical schools. After all, the pharmaceutical companies are the ones paying for the whole shebang; what they say, goes.

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” – Richard Horton, current Editor-in-chief of The Lancet 

Heavy Metals

One example would be the vaccine ingredients themselves. Heavy metals, like aluminum and mercury, have been added to vaccines for approximately 100 years without any appropriate safety testing. Numerous studies point this out.  You can access some of those studies and see some examples here.

Fast forward to 2017: researchers have now identified, in animal models, that the aluminum from a vaccine does not exit the body like aluminum from, let’s say, our food; it actually stays in the body, travels to distant organs and eventually ends up in the brain. Not only that, researchers also found some of the highest brain aluminum content ever measured in autopsies of the brains of people who were autistic.

You can read more about that and access those studies in the articles linked below:

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Study Shows Where ‘Almost 100 Percent of Aluminum From Vaccines Could Go Inside A Baby’s Body’

‘Some of the Highest Values For Brain Aluminum Content Ever Measured’ Found In People With Autism

It is simply no longer possible to believe…or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. –  Dr. Marcia Angell

Questioning Vaccine Safety Is Suppressed

With all of these issues, why is there such a harsh reaction to questioning vaccine safety? Why can’t a doctor or professor keep their job if they question vaccine safety? Isn’t science about openly questioning? The day we stop questioning, when there are clearly multiple concerns and questions to be asked and addressed, is the day we abandon the possibility of doing real science.

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”  – Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor in Chief of The New England Medical Journal (source)

The issue here is, vaccines are marketed as completely safe, and anybody who questions vaccines is made out to look crazy, dumb, or unscientific. This couldn’t’ be further from the truth, and there are a number of valid reasons why parents should not be forced to vaccinate their child. 

The DTP Vaccine

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has long been a vocal critic of the lack of scientifically-based vaccine testing:

The public in both poor and rich countries has a right to scientifically-based evidence that international vaccine programs are as safe as possible and that they have been thoroughly safety-tested.  The best metrics for measuring safety are studies comparing health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated cohorts.  Yet, both the CDC and the WHO have aggressively discouraged the pursuit of such studies. – RFK Jr.

He wrote an article that goes into more detail about the DTP vaccine, it’s history, and what the current research suggests. It is becoming difficult to avoid the conclusion that the DTP vaccine is causing more harm than good.

Study Finds Higher Mortality In Infants Who Received The DTP Vaccine Compared To Those Who Didn’t

In the video below, I go into more detail about the DTP vaccine. HERE is the study I reference in the video.

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Simple Exercises To Help Reverse Damage Caused From Excessive Sitting

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In our modern lifestyle, we are sitting too much and for too long periods of time. This level of sedentary lifestyle is not natural for our bodies and could lead to very serious health issues if we do not address this issue.

  • Reflect On:

    How could you be more active throughout your regular day to reduce the impacts of sitting too much? Can you make some of these simple excises a daily habit to help limit the damages of sitting?

If you are here and reading this, chances are you have a job that involves long periods of sitting, and most likely staring at a screen. This has become the norm in our modern society and because our bodies are designed to move, to stretch and well, basically to be used, sitting for extended periods of time is causing us some serious damage. Some people are going as far as to say that sitting is the new smoking.

Have you experienced those moments when you finally get up from a sitting position and your butt is completely numb? Excessive sitting causes your legs and hips to become tight and leaves your glutes completely inactive, which does nothing to strengthen these areas. Then there is the dreaded slouch over the desk and computer that could be ruining your posture as well.

Think about how our society was before the industrial revolution, stock market and even recently with the invention of the computer. Us humans were tending our own gardens, washing and hanging our own clothes, we didn’t have cars and were, by default, much more active than we are today. We didn’t even have couches to sit on at the end of the day or more screens, in various shapes and sizes to stare at whilst sitting. It is straight up unnatural for our bodies to spend so much time being inactive and we are starting to see the consequences.

However, having awareness is the first step towards change, and there are some simple ways that you can begin to undo the damage that is caused by sitting. So without further a due, here are 7 simple exercises you can do now to reduce the damage caused by sitting.

Sit Less & Move More

Prevention is the best remedy. By simply being aware of how much you are sitting, you can begin to negate its effects. Whenever possible stand up, go for a little walk around the office, perhaps a little stretch or plank while you’re at it. To remind yourself to do this you can set a timer to go off every 30-60 minutes.

Consider using a standing desk perhaps to keep you on your feet and activating your muscles for longer, although you will still want to ensure you are incorporating some movement, as standing for hours on end is not necessarily good for you and your body either. A friend suggested a great idea to me once, which was to drink plenty of water. This will force you to get up often, not only to get more water but to also relive your bladder, this sounds silly, but it totally works. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with staying hydrated!

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Stretch Out Those Hips

If you are really tight, the following exercises may be difficult at first, don’t push it only go to your level of comfort. With time you will gain the flexibility to go deeper as it will get easier after a while.

Squats

Nothing like some good old-fashioned squats to engage your glutes and your legs. Stand up tall, have the feet about hip width apart and facing a little bit outwards, bend down so your knees are at about a 45-degree angle, come up and flex your glutes when you do. Repeat 10 times to start, increasing every time you do this.

Downward Dog

This is a classic move that you may already know if you’ve ever taken a yoga class. If you haven’t — no sweat, it’s a fairly simple exercise. Stand up straight and bend over, place your hands in front of you on the ground and slowly walk them out. If you are on your tiptoes for this, that’s totally fine, you want your body to be in a “V” shape. Hold this pose for 10 – 15 seconds at first, then increase the duration as you get comfortable. To come out of this position, walk your hands slowly back to your feet than stand up tall. You may be able to eventually have your feet flat on the ground as you do this, but it may take some time to achieve this.

Plank Position

The plank position is great for whole body strength. Simply get into a standard push up position, or rest your elbows on the floor, ensure your back is flat, like a plank and hold for 20 seconds to start. Over time, you can increase the duration of this exercise. It is an excellent way to strengthen the core and gets your legs and glutes involved as well.

Glute Bridge

Lay on your back on the ground, bring your legs up so your feet are about 1 foot away from your butt, place your hands flat on the floor and begin to raise your pelvis off the ground. Repeat 20 times, ensuring to flex those glutes every time you lift up. As this becomes easier, increase the number of repetitions.

Spinal Twist

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. To start, bring in your right knee and cross your foot across your left leg, hug your right leg into your body while sitting up straight. Hold this pose for 10 seconds then switch legs. As this becomes easier you can move on the

Leg Swings

Start this exercise by finding something to hold onto for balance. Start by swinging your right leg backward and forwards as high and as far back as feels comfortable to you. Repeat 20 times then switch legs.

Next up is side to side leg swings. Keep holding onto something for balance and swing your right leg out to the side as high as is comfortable and then in front of you towards your left as far as you can. Again, do 20 swings then switch legs. You may repeat if you are feeling especially tight.

Much Love

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Family Constellation Therapy & It’s Role In Healing Autism

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Trans-generational traumas add to our toxic burden and predispose us to illness. Misfortune or unresolved conflict in our ancestry can create disturbances which filter down into the psyche, nervous system and metabolic functioning.

  • Reflect On:

    What conflict exists in your ancestry? Could it be impacting your family's health?

Family Constellation Therapy, sometimes known as Systemic Constellations, was created by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist. This amazing method is used to uncover the source of chronic conditions, illnesses and emotional difficulties that may have roots in the inter-generational family systems, rather than the individual, and may be connected to a key stress event.

Could resolving past family trauma help unlock the symptoms known as autism? Sadly, some form of autism is now observed in 1 in 55 children and is growing at a rate of more than 1,100 percent. Western medicine focuses on medication to suppress symptoms and alternative approaches focus on treating the underlying biomedical, physical, psychological and environmental causes of autism.

However, illness not only originates in our physical body, but can also originate in our energetic and spiritual body as well. So, it becomes imperative that we treat the entire person for a fuller recovery.

“Autism spectrum disorders can only be fully healed by restoring the self-regulation of the system and making it fully functional.” – Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt

This moving and powerful work in the family’s energetic field is also referred to as “the knowing field.” And, is used to examine the emotional factors connected to conditions such as illness, allergies, alcoholism, ADHD and autism. Some parents of children on the autism spectrum have experienced profound transformations as a result of this work for themselves, as well as for their families.

These children are often the recipients of unhealed trans-generational family issues because of their extraordinary energetic sensitivities.  This perpetuates their illness.

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Family constellation therapy work, focuses deeper on the ancestral family blueprint – the family soul. Our souls carry information from one lifetime to the next and from one generation to the next.

Children often hold the energetic field of their ancestors. This appears especially true with children with autism, because they are super-sensitive and spiritual souls. Who, often become unconsciously entangled with others in their family in the name of belonging or wanting to help restore balance in their family system. The purpose of a Family Constellation therapy session is to reveal that hidden dynamic and point the way toward resolution. And, there are often magical improvements in these children when we resolve issues in the family history.

The Forgotten One

One of the participants in a group “Michelle,” has a brother with severe autism who couldn’t speak and was very self-destructive. She was afraid that he could never live a more “normal” life because he refused all biomedical treatment and other therapies offered to him. In the initial set-up, the facilitator had Michelle, her brother, and both parents of her family represented  in “the field.”

The participant representing her brother was hiding under a nearby chair and was rocking back and forth. Both parents were standing in the field, seemingly disinterested in what was going on. The sister (Michelle) kept looking down at the floor. Later in the set-up, it was revealed that the sister was looking down at a baby—a baby who had died of birth defects three generations ago. This baby hadn’t been properly acknowledged or mourned.

In essence, the brother with autism had taken the place of the “forgotten” baby. Representatives for the great-grandparents (the forgotten baby’s parents) were brought into “the field.” Then, the baby was embraced by the parents and a short dialogue was exchanged. The baby reported that he felt more at ease, relaxed and became more comfortable. A healing took place that was so profound.  A year later, “Michelle” reported that her brother was starting to take a more active role in his recovery and was beginning to accept treatment.

War and Mental Illness

“Andrew,” a man in his twenties who was diagnosed with Asperger’s, participated in my group. He claimed that mental illness and psychosis ran in his family. He cried as he explained that he was taking multiple medications for bi-polar disorder. He claimed it was difficult for him to hold down a job.  He often felt very alone. He stated that he did not have a good relationship with his parents. He said that his mom was “crazy.” The parents divorced when he was very small and he blames himself and his issues for why they split.

In the initial set-up of “his field,” Andrew was represented along with mental illness and his parents.   As it unfolded, it became more obvious that something profound had happened in the past. Mental illness began taking on characteristics of a war and hidden dynamics were revealing themselves.

Later in the set-up, Andrew’s representative started choking, like he was trying to catch his breath. He was mumbling, “I deserve death because I have killed others.”

It was uncovered that his great-great grandfather was in World War I and was killed during a mustard gas attack. Andrew was doing service to the family out of deep love. He took on the feelings of the victim and the perpetrator, which caused him deep inner conflict. Hence, he was carrying the burden of mental illness and autism. In doing this soul work, Andrew was able to find resolution for himself as well as all the members of his family.

In conclusion, trans-generational traumas add to our toxic burden and predispose us to illness. Misfortune or unresolved conflict in our ancestry can create disturbances in the family field, which filter down into the psyche, nervous system and metabolic functioning. Children with health issues are particularly sensitive to such disturbances.

Therapy and biomedical interventions may even succeed better after a healing Family Constellation session with an experienced facilitator. Fortunately, it is never too late to heal wounds from the past. Constellation work is unique in that any living family member can do this intervention for the benefit of all.


Learn more about my family’s healing journey (including everything that has worked for me and many of my clients) in my book Healing Without Hurting. And to receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety and more without medication SIGN UP HERE.

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