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Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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.... are caused by genes, environment, or a combination of the two. Well-known disorders include ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. In some cases, medication can be used to treat the disorder. In all cases, people with disabilities and their families can be helped by an understanding of the disorder and through families/communities working together to support the person.

Causes of behavior and emotional disorders
Biology can be a factor. Behavior disorders may be inherited through one's genes, due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or occur as a result of brain injury. The person’s surroundings can also come into play. If the youth has been exposed to abuse, extreme stress, a death or loss in the family, and/or violence, he/she is more likely to develop these disorders.

Common types of behavior and emotional disorders
Some of the more common disorders are described below. If you go to the Specific Disabilities page, you can find more information about any of these disorders as well as many less common ones.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) - The child has trouble paying attention to anything, is impulsive in decisions, and is constantly active in a way that is not normal for the child’s age. The child cannot be still and is easily distracted by anything that crosses his/her path. Make sure you visit a doctor before self-diagnosing this disorder. It can also be treated with medicine.

Severe Depression - symptoms are a loss of interest in usual activities, extreme sadness, changes in appetite and/or sleeping patterns, and a feeling of hopelessness. A person with severe depression does not have much value towards life and can be at-risk of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors. Friends and family members should take suicide threats seriously, as most people who commit suicide have given at least some warning signs.

Eating Disorders - The two eating disorders that are most common, especially in young people, are anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a condition of excessive weight loss that occurs when the person starves him/herself. Bulimia is described by a cycle of “binge and purge”, which is when a person eats a large amount and then vomits it up, so as not to gain the weight. These disorders, however, are less about the weight that is gained and more about the person’s struggle to gain control over themselves.

Bipolar Disorder - There is a lot of evidence that suggests this condition is due more to biology than to experiences in a person's family life. The person suffers from “highs and lows”, feeling happy one second, then depressed the other. They can jump from one mood to the next, spending a lot of money and having little sleep in their “happy” phase, then crying and sleeping all the time in their “sad” phase. This can be worked through with therapy and medicine.

There are also disorders which cannot be put into any certain category. The child suffers from emotions and behaviors where he/she feels the constant need to be in control, is always angry or depressed, practices a great deal of violence and/or disrespect towards others, and may practice substance abuse (underage drinking/drugs). The way to get through these disorders, as well as the named disorders above, is with a lot of patience. The family/friends of the person should build up self-esteem and confidence, knowing that no mental/emotional disorder is easy to get through.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. It has been noted several times on this page that biology may be a cause of these disorders. It makes no more sense to tell a person with depression to "Snap out of it! Stop being so sad all the time!" as it does to tell a person with diabetes to just get better.

Next : Physical Disabilities

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
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