One problem, many conditions

Medicine is an approach that is based on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions. When you consult a medical doctor, he or she will ask you about the various symptoms your child is suffering from. Based on these symptoms, your child will be given a diagnosis. For example, if your child is suffering from impulsivity and hyperactivity, he or she may be diagnosed with ADHD. If he has behavioural problems, he or she may be diagnosed with ODD or oppositional-defiant disorder. If he has problem reading, he may be diagnosed with dyslexia. It is not uncommon for children with ADHD to have received several diagnoses. In fact 50% of children with ADHD have another diagnosis, 32% have two other diagnosis and 11% have three other diagnosis!!

But no one ever asked whether all these symptoms could be attributed to the same, unique underlying problem. In fact, my last statement is inaccurate, because some people have been asking that question and finding an answer. But these people do not practice medicine, they do neuroscience research. They have found that ADHD and associated conditions all stem from one underlying problem.

This problem is called a Functional Disconnection Syndrome.

Functional Disconnection Syndrome (FDS)

In the last two decades, thanks to great progress made in brain imaging technologies, neuroscientist have found that the great majority of so-called “mental disorders” result from a breakdown in the proper communication between parts of the brain, and especially between the right and the left hemisphere.

In order for the brain to function optimally, its different part must function in harmony. They must be connected and be able to communicate together. Put simply, they have to be on the same wavelength. If one part is out-of-synch, it can throw other parts of the brain off-key. The harmony is lost and symptoms appear. Medicine then names those symptoms mental disorders.

This disconnection is generally due to a part of the brain being delayed in its development or being weaker than other parts.  A child with a left brain weakness will present symptoms that are different from a child with a right brain weakness. The symptoms are different, but the underlying problem is the same.

This breakdown in communication is called a "functional disconnection syndrome".

We say "Disconnection" because parts of the brain cannot communicate properly together or are out-of-synch. The good news is that the key word is “Functional”. This means it has to do with the function, and not the structure, of the brain. This means that it can be treated and rehabilitated. And this is what the Unritalin Solution is all about.

The many symptoms of Functional Disconnection Syndrome

As I have said, a Functional Disconnection Syndrome can lead to many symptoms. This is why children receive multiple diagnoses. Doctors who do not know about Functional Disconnection Syndrome label symptoms as distinct entities because they do not understand that they are just the symptoms of an underlying, unique problem.

The most common symptoms of Functional Disconnection Syndrome include:

Poor body awareness
Children are lost in space and have poor spatial orientation. They have poor balance and bump into things. They do not feel their body very well. They are not grounded. This also has a profound negative effect on their emotional and social development.

Poor motor skills
Children have problem controlling their movements and muscles. It can be gross movement problems. They have poor muscle tone, bad posture, poor coordination and a poor sense of timing and rhythm. The problem can be with fine motor skills. In that case, they will have difficulty writing (poor handwriting) or tying their shoes. This problem also affects eye coordination. They may or may not have a lazy eye. Since their eye movements are poorly coordinated, they tire easily or have difficulty reading.

Poor social skills
The proper development of social skills is based on non-verbal communication or the ability to read body language and understand people’s emotions and intentions. Since children with FDS have a poor sense of their own body, they have great difficulty with nonverbal communication.  This often also leads to abnormal emotional reactions.

Sensory processing problem
Children with FDS have problem processing information. They may be hyper- or hyposensitive with vision, hearing, touch or smell and taste. They may be picky eaters, cannot stand noises, or may not like to be hugged.

Academic and cognitive symptoms
Although the majority of children with FDS are intelligent, many struggle in school. They may have problem with reading, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, math, concentration, disorganization, remembering and a poor sense of time.

Other problems
Since the brain controls all functions of the body, children with FDS often have other health problems. Depending on which part of their brain is weaker, they may have symptoms of compromised immune system. Their immune system is either weak like in a child who catches every infection or too active like in the case of children with allergies, food sensitivities or asthma. They may have rapid heartbeat or immature digestive systems and poor digestion

Problems helped by the Unritalin Solution

By helping to correct a Functional Disconnection Syndrome – and the factors that are causing it – the Unritalin Solution can help children who have been diagnosed with the consequences of FDS. This includes:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is defined as inappropriate behaviour due to hyperactivity and impulsivity and/or inability to pay attention.

Learning disabilities and dyslexia
Learning disorder are problems that impair the ability to understand or use written or oral language, writing and mathematics.

Pervasive Developmental Delay
This is an overall category that includes developmental delays such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorders.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
ODD is defined by a hostile and defiant behaviour toward authority figures (parents or teachers)

Tourette syndrome
Tourette is characterized by uncontrollable, sudden, repetitive tics (muscular or verbal)

Further resource

If you would like to know more about Functional Disconnection Syndrome, I recommend two resources:

  1. Our Unritalin Solution
  2. The book “Disconnected Kids” by Dr. Robert Melillo