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For anyone who knows a child,
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This review is from: No Child Left Different (Childhood in America) (Hardcover)This is one of those books I bought for the title. The title is a play on the notorious No Child Left Behind act and its role in federal education policy, notorious not only for its lack of funding, but also for its excessive reliance on standardized testing. My only regret with No Child Left Different is that it did not take on that particular set of villains.
Nonetheless, the title does reflect an important philosophy, one that called to me from its title, with which I was not at all disappointed. Its multiple authors critique the prevailing attitudes in mental health and social policy which have led to the sharp increases in psychiatric diagnoses for children, as well as the growing reliance on "medication" to treat the identified "disorders". Their concerns are grounded in the need to accept children (and ultimately adults as well) as they are, with all their quirks intact, if not actively encouraged. They also provide scathing and well documented accounts of the lack of testing of the drugs that are prescribed to children, as well as the dysfunctional responses in the face of predictable side effects--notably the truly frightening trend towards "polypharmacy". Unlike many critical works, this book does not fail to provide alternatives, but does in fact discuss other, safer and more humane approaches to helping children whose behavioral and social difficulties they do not deny. The strength of a multi-authored work is the variety of perspectives and alternatives available. Certainly, some chapters are more compelling than others: Chapter 3, "The Dance of Nature and Nurture" provides answers for those who might otherwise worry about appearing "unscientific"; Chapter 9, "The Rise of Ritalin" highlights specific medication concerns; and, Chapter 6, "Child Psychiatry, Drugs, and the Corporation" attests to the needs of scientists to know more about politics.
The target audience for this book appears at first glance to be professionals, but it is highly accessible, and I think urgent reading for anyone whose life includes children. It needs to reach a larger market.