How To Treat Behavioural Disorders In Children?

Behavioural disorders in children are becoming commonplace. This article tells you how such children can be handled with sensitivity

By Shashwathi Sandeep

How To Treat Behavioural Disorders In Children?

A combined treatment programme can be of greater benefit to children with behavioural problems than any one particular line of treatment. Dr Ennapadam Krishnamoorthy, a renowned neuro-psychiatrist from Chennai, has embraced this approach with his paediatric patients in his Trimed chain of clinics and answers some questions.

What does a holistic treatment involve?

It combines modern medicine with ancient wisdom. There is a growing interest in the solutions that traditional medical systems can offer. I am an allopath, and I know that allopathy has limited solutions for most chronic diseases and behavioural problems. But by combining it with the best of ayurveda, yoga therapy, naturopathy, physiotherapy, psychiatry and counselling, acupressure/acupuncture and other therapies, we find that children are faring much better.

How does a holistic programme work?

Usually, when a child is referred to us by a medical practitioner, we do our own tests to reconfirm the diagnosis, before we start a programme. In behavioural disorders, diagnosis can become slightly confusing, but it is all-important! Then a team of doctors and therapists sit together with the medical director who is an allopath and devise a programme that will work best for the child. We do not try out everything on everybody. Many of our therapists are also doctors, (with a BAMS degree) in the system they are specializing in, as in ayurveda. They also know anatomy.

How do you combine the various treatments? How do you ensure that these treatments work well together?

Fortunately we have treated at least 3000 patients, many of them are children. That experience is valuable. While we cannot say we have an absolute formula for combining specific amounts of a specific treatment for a specific duration to treat a specific behavioural problem, we are working towards it by collecting the data from our own experiences.

Whenever we introduce a new treatment, we first try it out on a select few children to understand the effects. If we record benefits, we incorporate it as part of our treatment programme. For instance, yoga is known to bring about a calming effect on the body. In hyperactive children we tried out play-yoga, which involved doing exercises pertaining to animal poses. They related to these poses in a fun way, and because they benefited, it became a part of our programme.

I can understand your adopting ayurveda, which is a well-known Indian science. But naturopathy ..?

Naturopathy is a tried and tested system overseas, in the US and European countries, and is even a part of their regular medical systems (eg; Harvard, Arizona ). They have proved that, for instance, mud therapy works very well for people with stomach disorders. I have found good results with naturopathy among our epileptic children and those with behavioural disorders – as all of them have digestive problems. River mud in India (like the Ganges mud) is known for its therapeutic value.

So, if children undergo this holistic treatment, will they be able to stop taking allopathy medication in the long run?

No, we do not tell patients to stop allopathy. We just work around the allopathic treatment they are receiving and reduce their medical dependency on this system.

How does this integrated approach help parents?

There are special schools for the autistic and other clear disabilities where children do well. But there are a large number of children with ‘below the spectrum’ disorders, which include behavioural disorders. For instance, these children have poor motor abilities, or are hyperactive, or their language-ability does not develop – so they cannot study or read well, or they are impulsive and always fighting. These children are asked to leave mainstream schools. Parents, despite their aspirations, end up admitting children in a new school year after year, progressively lower in the hierarchy. With a holistic approach, parents can try to keep these children in mainstream schools.

Today, anxious parents are travelling from an ayurveda centre to a physiotherapy centre some distance away, and then to an acupuncture centre in another part of the city - and are getting stressed out juggling schedules. When an integrated approach is offered in a centre like ours, they save time and their travel costs are reduced!

Can you discuss a couple of case studies with us so that we know how this has helped children?

We had a child come in when he was just two years old; he is eight years old now. He was a hyperactive child; if you left him in a room for a few minutes, he would trash the room completely. There were doubts if he would ever survive in a mainstream school. We started the therapy and over the past six years, he has not only survived mainstream school but is also one of the toppers in his class. His parents, grandparents and the school were totally involved in the therapy.

A four-year-old girl who came in with a weird problem - she had episodes of uncontrollable laughter and dancing. No one knew the reason why this was happening. We did a complete evaluation and discovered that she had epileptic seizures, coupled with some family-related behavioural issues; she was also dyslexic. We cured her of her seizures and behavioural issues, but her dyslexia has been increasing. Therefore, she had to be shifted from a mainstream school this year. I have also shared this case with Harvard Medical School. 

Often, if you notice your child always in an aggressive mood or often fighting, he may have behavioural problems. Learn how to deal with this by flipping through the pages of this ClipBook.