As school starts we have noticed a pattern of increased violence or irritability among some of our clients. Some of the possible culprits have been identified through our experience and many of our children now actually handle the start of school better each year.
Many of our foods today contain highly reactive and addictive additives and chemicals. Many children When the kids are back in school, all parents breathe a collective sigh of relief, however, it opens the door for dietary issues galore – not always with our knowledge or consent as parents, and definitely without knowledge on the part of the school – unless you educate them.
One of our office staff members recently mentioned that one of her children, usually very well behaved, had meltdowns whenever they went to a particular chicken-oriented restaurant. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is mentioned TWICE in their ingredient list online. This particular restaurant chain’s offerings are part of the “healthy menu” choices one day per week by the school cafeteria. Yet the school officials seem oblivious to the fact that on the days when this is served, there are more fights and disciplinary meausres necessary. To us it comes as no surprise.
Most schools don’t publish their school lunch nutritional content by ingredients. Yet, most use government surplus foods, full of additives, aluminum, plastics, etc., and plenty of aluminum foil and utenstils are used for baking, cooking, etc. Even the most nutrition savvy moms, the ones who send the kiddos off with a nourishing, organic, high-veggie, GMO-free, excitotoxin-free (excitotoxins are dyes, MSG, preservatives, nitrates, nitrites, etc.), cannot control what really goes into their kids’ mouths at school. It could be as simple as the dyes in the fingerpaints, or kids trading or borrowing a bite or two from another child’s lunch. Whether it’s a school lunch or a snack from a teacher who isn’t “in the know” (ABA programs are notorious for using soft drinks, sweetened with GMO corn syrup and highly addictive to everyone, but more to our kids, or gold fish, suckers, etc. as rewards, too), the school doesn’t understand – unless you educate them.
Another Back to School issue is that of chemical and mold exposures. Many of us, as well as our children, are highly sensitive to pesticides, formaldehyde, etc. When schools start up, many have recarpeted, had air conditioning limited or turned off during the school, repainted, etc. over the summer. The chemical issues are obvious for our kids. If they are acting out, go to the school and sniff (in a short exposure!!!! You don’t need to be made ill, either!). If you smell paint, mold, new carpet smells, etc., it’s likely to be affecting your child’s behavior and focus – and the other kids’ as well!
What do most parents do just before their children return to school? They buy new things – backpacks, clothing, shoes, notebooks, crayons, etc. All of these items can out-gas for weeks to months. Anything that is washable should always be washed 2-3 times before allowing your chemically sensitive child to wear it. Obviously not all items are machine washable, so think green as you purchase the kids’ back to school materials – and again, realize that the school may not be all that green. New curtains in the auditorium will outgas for months. New fabrics and glues on office and classroom furnishings and toys outgas.
So how do we change this? It takes time and an overwhelming shift as more and more parents become aware. Do a presentation on the role of excitotoxins in child behavior to the PTO. Talk to other parents with Special Ed, learning disabled, as well as typical kids (who May just seem a little “irritable at times”)to make them aware of when that happens.
As homeopaths, certainly we frequently clear our clients for such problems, and if we know of an ongoing exposure, we can provide daily remedies to help the kids deal with the exposure to specific neurotoxins in their environment. Even that may not be adequate to eliminate the behaviors if the exposure is ongoing. Do your best to work with the school, and at home, to minimize the chemicals, and maximize the outdoor time. But in the long term – fight for your child’s right to breathe clean, fresh air. If the school’s answer to poor behavior is removal of outdoor time, they are shooting themselves, and your child, in the foot.
Educate them on chemicals and the need for care. If you have tested your child for chemical or food sensitivities, provide the school with a list of your child’s sensitivities IN WRITING, to foods, chemicals, etc., and make sure it is a documented part of his/her IEP (if your child has one). To be sure, given the level of toxicity we are all exposed to on a daily basis, many kids today are developing many chemical sensitivities – but their parents and the schools don’t always realize it. Some Excellent resource books are Excitotoxins – the Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, The Crazy Makers by Carol Simontacchi, and a number of books by Doris Rapp, MD.
Sequential Homeopathy is amazingly helpful over time at reducing some of the behavioral issues from these sensitivities, but as with computers, garbage in equals garbage out. The reality is, MSG, food additives, solvents and paints, pesticides, mold, etc. are all found in many places and are difficult to avoid. Schools can be some of the sickest buildings there are at the start of school. But the more steps you take to maximize awareness and minimize the exposure, including documenting it with the school, the more quickly they will become aware and improve the situation for all of the kids.
Thanks for being such responsible parents – we’re here to help you!