Thursday, January 16, 2014
Do you hear what I hear?

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

People always seem to hear what they want to hear. I was in the office last week. When I arrived, several people asked me if I had seen the local morning show the day before. They told me that there was a doctor on who was saying that ADHD did not exist. I was skeptical that any physician could make such a statement. So I looked up what actually occurred on the show. What the doctor really said is that he did not feel that it was right to label a child with a disorder. He agreed that there were children that had issues with attention and hyperactivity. He agreed that they needed to be treated for that. He did not agree that it should be labeled a disorder. I can see his point. We know that for every human characteristic there is a bell shaped curve. About 68% of the population is average for that characteristic. It does not matter if we are talking about height. It does not matter if we are talking about intelligence. It does not matter if we are talking about attention. Another 16% is above average. The remaining 16% is below average. Thus while most people have average attention, there is a proportion of the population that has below average intelligence. However, being below average does not mean that there is actually a problem. It just means that your attention is not at the same level as the rest of the population. We know that the 5% of the population with the worst attention are those who wind up needing treatment. They really do not have a disorder of attention. They just have poor attention compared to the rest of the population. In psychiatric terms, you have a disorder when it interferes with how you normally function in the world. If you have attention issues and they cause problems in the classroom situation, the label Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is given. However, all it means is that your attention is poorer than the other 95% of the population. Just as recently as 100 years ago, not everyone finished school. Those individuals with issues like attention would leave school early and enter the work force. Therefore, it was not much of an issue. It was not until the 1960s that a premium was put on completing high school. That is when we started treating things like ADHD and learning disorders. I frequently have parents come to me and ask for help getting disability payments for their child with ADHD. ADHD is not a disability. It is a weakness in paying attention. We are not going to give disability payments to 5% of the population because they cannot pay attention. It is this kind of situation that the physician was upset about. We can give children the impression that they have something wrong with them. Everyone is in the lower 5% of the population for some skill. It might be height. It might be athletic ability. It might be singing ability. We do not consider them disabled. Nor should we consider children with ADHD disabled. It might very well be that calling it a disorder is doing these children a disservice.

Nanticoke Health Services plans health fair Nanticoke Health Services will host its second annual health event for all ages from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Heart of Good Health: A Healthy Community Event will be held at Laurel Senior High School. The mission of this event is to provide education and information on many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle. Health education and health professionals will be on hand and several health screenings will be available. There will be healthy living demonstrations, and many activities for the whole family will be available throughout the day. There will be free health screenings for cholesterol, glucose, vision and more. Cholesterol screenings are from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and require a 12-hour fasting. A donation of $10 is appreciated but not required. Pre-registration is not required. Health information and interactive displays on heart risk factors, body mass index (BMI), stroke awareness, healthy eating, diabetes, cancer, and much more will be available. Vendors will also include many other non-profit organizations and private businesses that provide services related to healthy living. For sports fans, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins will sign autographs from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Community members are invited to bring a sports item for Cousins to sign. Merchandise will not be sold at the event. In order to give everyone a chance to meet Cousins, autographs will be limited to one person. For the kids, Delmarva Discovery Center will be on hand to educate on the environment and some of the animals native to the Eastern Shore. There will be information about state parks to promote outdoor activity around the region. The health fair is free and open to everyone. For more information, visit or call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Diabetes support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a free diabetes support group from 5 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, at the hospital. As a person with diabetes, are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would just like to share with others coping with diabetes? The support group will feature a webinar offered by the American Association of Diabetes Educators on the topic of Diabetes and the Mouth: A Two-Way Street. There will also be a question and answer period. Registration is required. To register and for more information about the support group, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals Diabetes Education Dept. at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Funding for MS research projects The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has committed another $19.4 million to support up to 38 new MS research projects. A portion of funds raised at events throughout the state of Delaware are sent to national to fund these projects which now include a clinical trial to test whether ibudilast, a re-purposed therapy, can protect the nervous system and slow or stop progressive MS; a study to determine if dance as a form of exercise improves physical activity, walking, balance and fatigue in people with MS; and a project examining whether potential benefits of vitamin D therapy depend on an individuals gene. MS affects more than 1,550 people in Delaware and 2.3 million worldwide. Learn more by contacting the National MS Society at

Affordable Care Act erollment Citizens without health insurance are invited to attend the Affordable Care Act Information and Enrollment Assistance Event at the Sussex County Democratic Party Headquarters at 10 West Pine St., Georgetown, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. Certified marketplace guides will be available to answer questions, walk individuals through the enrollment process and enroll them in an affordable plan that meets their needs. This is an important opportunity for individuals and families to learn about the various plans and find out if they are eligible for federal tax subsidies that will help lower monthly costs. Individuals who currently have health insurance are also invited to attend to find out if they can access more affordable insurance. Remember that the Affordable Care Act requires every American to have health insurance. March 31 is the deadline for open enrollment in 2014. Contact Joanne Cabry at or 302-226-5019 for directions to the event in Georgetown. For those who cannot make it on Jan. 18, contact Chris Casazza, lead Delaware marketplace guide for Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care, at 302-853-5524 or

Health centers receive grants The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded grants to Delawares federally qualified health centers to help enroll Delawareans in health insurance coverage. La Red Health Center, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center and Westside Family Healthcare received $177,872 to help with their enrollment efforts in the communities they serve in Delawares three counties. With these awards, health centers will be able to meet immediate needs, including expanding the hours of existing outreach and enrollment assistance workers, and hiring new or temporary outreach and enrollment assistance workers. Delawares three health centers served 39,401 patients last year, with more than 37 percent of them uninsured.