The founders of Ablechild, Patricia Weathers and Sheila Matthews, have earned the title of "Unsung Heroes," as both pioneers and warriors for over a decade, in the battle to protect children from the Psychopharmaceutical Industry.
Ablechild (Parents for A Label and Drug-Free Education), is a national non-profit founded in 2001, by these two mothers who each had personal experiences with being coerced by the public school system to label and drug their children for ADHD. Patty and Sheila went from being victims to become national advocates for the fundamental rights of all parents and children in the US.
Now with thousands of members, Ablechild acts as an independent advocate on behalf of parents whose children have been subjected to mental health screening and psychiatric labeling and drugging, and as a proponent for children in foster care who are improperly treated with psychotropic drugs, many times off-label, without informed consent.
Long Battle Against Coerced Drugging
Roughly eight years ago, on September 26, 2002, then Chairman the US House Government Reform Committee, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), held a hearing on the "Overmedication of Hyperactive Children," prompted by a series in the New York Post.
"It's estimated that 4 to 6 million children in the United States take Ritalin every single day," Burton said in his opening statement. He pointed out that Ritalin was a Schedule II stimulant under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, that research showed it was a more potent transport inhibitor than cocaine, and use in the US had increased over a 500% since 1990. The Schedule II category also includes drugs such as cocaine, morphine, and Oxycontin.
On one side of the issue, Burton
said, they would hear from the associations of psychiatrists and an
organization known as Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (CHADD), and they believed 13% of the US population suffered from an
attention disorder and it should be treated with medication.
At the other end of the discussion, he said, was the Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR), and concerned parents, who challenged the legitimacy of calling ADHD a neurobiological disorder and raised questions about giving psychiatric drugs to children. Two of these "concerned parents" were Patty Weathers and Neil Bush, the brother of then President Bush, who was pressured by a private school in Houston to drug his son with Ritalin after he was misdiagnosed with ADHD by the school.
Unsung Hero - Patty Weathers
At the hearing, Patty testified about the ordeal she and her son, Michael, went through in a public school in New York State that began in 1997. When Michael entered first grade, the teacher told Patty his learning development was not normal and he would not be able to learn without medication.
"Near the end of first grade, the school principal took me into her office and said that unless I agreed to put Michael on medication, she would find a way to transfer him to a special education center," Patty told the committee.
At this point, his teacher filled out an actor's profile for boys, an ADHD checklist, and sent it to his pediatrician, she said. "This checklist, along with a 15-minute evaluation by the pediatrician, led to my son being diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin."
Michael was not given a physical exam prior to the prescribing of Ritalin and no exams were conducted during appointments when refills for prescriptions were written.
"I would never have subjected my son to being labeled with a mental disorder if I had known that it was a subjective diagnosis," Patty told the panel. "I would not have allowed my son to be administered drugs if I had been given full information about the documented side effects and the risks."
"At no time was I offered any alternatives to my son's needs, such as tutoring or standard medical testing." she said. "The school's one and only solution was to have my child drugged."
Early on, Michael experienced the common side effects of Ritalin, such as sleep problems and loss of appetite, and by the third grade, Michael became withdrawn, stopped socializing with other children, and began chewing on pencils and other objects. He was then put on Dextrostat, an amphetamine, which only worsened the problems.