A.D.H.D. Center Elad

From 2010 to 2013, Achiya operated a very successful ADHD program in Elad, with the support of the Israeli Foundation for Children at Risk at the NII.

Under the direction of Rabbi Peretz Wertheimer, the ADHD program:

  • 1000 children in five schools were screened for signs of ADHD,
  • 80 children received neurological and didactic evaluations
  • 80 children were treated for ADHD
  • 25 parents participated in:

Counseling Workshops
Shabbos retreats
Individual counseling sessions with Rabbi Peretz Wertheimer, Educational Counselor & Director

  • Over 70 teachers attended evening lectures and received individual counseling in how to help the children in their classrooms
  • Principals attended a one day seminar on ADHD at the Nir Etzyion Hotel

 

 

 

Interview with Peretz Wertheimer published in the Mishpacha Journal in July 2011:

  Does he sit restlessly on his chair?  Disturb the lesson?  A high percentage of children suffer from attention deficiency disorder.  How does one tackle the problem, and how can these children be helped? Rabbi Peretz Wertheimer, administrator of Achiya’s multidisciplinary Center for ADD, gives us an insight to the answers in this special interview at the beginning of the new school year.

Paying attention…..to attention!

 In the last few years, there has been a growing momentum in awareness of the problem of attention deficit disorder in children.  In the past, a child who was unable to sit still would be labeled as lazy, or perhaps even “disturbed”; today, it is recognized that the child has a problem which necessitates professional attention – the sooner, the better!

This is all very well; however, Rabbi Wertheimer, head of Achiya’s Center for treatment of “ADD” in Elad, says that this awareness is not enough: fragmented comments, heard “in passing”, are the only information many parents have on the subject.  Many prefer to deny that any problem exists and do not consider testing.  This, of course, can cause irreversible damage for the child.  Here lies the importance of presenting a perfectly clear and true picture.

  • So – how many children are really suffering from attention disturbance?

“The percentages are very high; the latest research claims that from 5% to 10% of the general population suffer from attention – concentration difficulty.  In boys, the problem is more pronounced.  It’s interesting to note that many times, when parents come to us with a child who has been diagnosed as being hyperactive, when we explain some of the symptoms of hyperactivity, one of the parents jumps up and says – “Hey – I had similar behavior when I was a child, and I never imagined that this was the problem!”

GIVING THE SIGNS

  • What are the symptoms of attention deficiency disorders?

“Here, we must understand that difficulty in attention and concentration can be divided into three sub categories:

The first category suffers from an attention deficiency.  These children do not disturb in class, but seem to be very introverted.  It is difficult to diagnose these children, as they seem to be saying to the teacher – ‘don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you’.  These children can reach the higher grades without having been detected, and then it becomes extremely difficult to treat them, because, in addition to their original problem, there has been added poor social standing, a feeling of failure, and a self image at ground level.

The second sub group are children with hyperactivity: excessive body movement.  These are the children who seem to be powered by an invisible motor, and they can’t sit still for a minute.

The third group: here, we have a combination of the two – both attention deficiency and hyperactivity.  Of course, within the framework of each disturbance there are different levels.   Obviously, not all the children are the same.”

Rabbi Wertheimer notes that in the majority of cases, it is possible to identify children with such problems at an early age.  The older the child is, the more serious the problem becomes, as the level of learning requires increased mental and cognitive effort.

  • What are the warning signs that indicate the presence of a problem?

 “Problems of attention deficiency disorder have definite, obvious symptoms.  These children have difficulty paying attention for an extended time; they tend to forget things, to lose things, and find it hard to complete assignments, such as homework.  Children suffering from hyperactivity, in addition to their attention challenge, will often be unable to sit for any appreciable period of time; they will busy themselves with anything that is to be found on their desks, and can also leave their seats to wander aimlessly around the classroom in the middle of a lesson.

There are also impulsive children, who interrupt others when they are speaking.  These children have abrupt changes of mood, have outbursts of anger, and can shout out an answer to a question that the teacher is in the middle of asking.  All these signs are based on guidelines for diagnosis that were prepared by the American Association of Psychiatrists (DSM4).  According to the Association, the symptoms must appear for at least six months and have a negative influence in at least two situations: for example, at school and at home.  In other words, if the teacher is the only one to complain, or the parents, alone, report such instances, it is not sufficient to determine the presence of a problem.  In addition, these behaviors must be apparent before the age of seven.”

TREATING THE DIFFICULTY

 The good news is that in our times, attention deficiency problems have a solution, and with “siyatta deshemaya”, it is possible to find the right treatment for a child and to put him on the path to success.  “Of course, before it is possible to begin treatment for a child, he must have professional assessment,” stresses Rabbi Wertheimer.  “It is important to note that the diagnosis cannot be made by parents, melamdim, or – certainly not – all kinds of charlatans.  Diagnosis must be made by professionals, such as a neurologist, a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.  Only after a problem has been properly diagnosed can one find the suitable and effective solution.”

  • Can you describe to us the methods of treatment?

“Usually, it is recommended that a child take a medicine, such as Ritalin, or, in the case of his requiring a longer-term influence, Azritalin LA/SR or Konserta.  These medicines are effective for the majority of children; however, about 15% of the children do need a different type of medicine, which is matched to their needs by the person treating them.

“Treatment with medicine is not sufficient.  In addition, there must be behavioral therapy, which will provide the child with the appropriate tools he needs in order to function both in class and in society – tools which will also improve his overall performance.  This is usually done in the framework of group therapy or, on an individual level, through coaching.  In addition, it is of great importance that the parents and melamdim be given guidance, so that they will not experience clashes and misunderstandings with the child.”

  • Is it absolutely necessary to administer medicine, or can one relly on behavioral therapy alone?

“Of course, if there is a borderline case, it is possible to try and get along without using medicine.  As a principal of a Talmud Torah, I can only say, with certainty, that in the vast majority of cases in which children were diagnosed and received suitable medicinal treatment, an immediate and dramatic change could be noticed; shortly after the beginning of the treatment, they began to blossom.”

In closing, Rabbi Wertheimer turns to the melamdim – “If it seems to you that you have spotted such a problem in one of your pupils, notify the parents right away – bring the question to their attention.  Recommend to them that they have their child diagnosed.  At the same time, be careful not to make any assumptions and not to label him with a stigma; do not turn an accusing finger toward the child.  He is not lazy, nor is he looking for trouble.  Point out to the parents the difficulty the child is experiencing, and don’t give up if you don’t succeed the first time.”

Rabbi Wertheimer has a message for the parents: “If you suspect that your child is experiencing a difficulty, take him to diagnosis – the sooner, the better.  This is the most precious gift you can give your child.  It will help him to have a good future, and he will be forever grateful to you for it.”

***Rabbi Peretz Wertheimer directed the multidisciplinary Center for Attention and Concentration Deficiency Treatment in Elad, in a joint project with “Achiya”, the National Insurance Institute, and a certified educational counselor.