Pills are not for preschoolers: Marilyn Wedge on over-diagnosed kids and family therapy
With about 1 in 10 school-aged children now diagnosed with ADHD and with diagnoses and prescriptions for children rising across the board, Dr. Marilyn Wedge is an outlier. In her family therapy practice, she avoids giving children any diagnoses and instead focuses on addressing influences in their social environment. Dr. Wedge makes the case for her approach in Pills are Not for Preschoolers: A Drug-Free Approach for Troubled Kids. Often she helps wean children off a battery of medications. As Dr. Wedge explains, amphetamine-like stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are addictive, and many other drugs prescribed to children have dangerous side effects or have only been tested in adults.
The core of Dr. Wedge’s book and of our conversation is her approach, called “strategic child-focused family therapy”. She aims to solve a child’s problem in just one or a few sessions, and she is willing to craft creative interventions. Often she works closely with parents and involves other influences such as siblings, extended family, pediatricians, clergy, school counselors and teachers. We discuss some of her most drastic interventions and touch on some basic advice for parents. For example, parents need to coordinate to provide consistent discipline and make enforceable threats. Dr. Wedge also shares many stories from her practice of young clients on the brink of being misdiagnosed with ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, and so on. Join us!