- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003

Don’t let ADHD kids fall through cracks

Contrary to what Monday’s editorial “The dulling down of children?” implies, simple anecdotes in no way compare to the 40-plus years of credible scientific research on attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD).

According to the surgeon general’s report on mental health, not only is there little evidence of overdiagnosis of ADHD, but rather, fewer children are being treated for the disease than suffer from it. To make matters worse, ADHD diagnosis and treatment rates are much lower for underserved populations (e.g., minorities, rural and low-income communities). Put simply, many of our children are falling through the cracks, and the consequences of untreated ADHD can last a lifetime (e.g., substance abuse and erratic employment).

For years, we have been secure in knowing that our nation’s leading medical authorities, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, have based their recommendations for diagnosing and treating ADHD on facts and not hearsay. I can only hope your newspaper will follow their example.

KATHIE WESTPHELING

Executive director

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved

Tysons Corner

The reason for the season

Wednesday’s Commentary column “Keeping Christmas” could not have stated with more accuracy my feelings with regard to the real reason for celebrating Christmas and the sorry spectacle we see today in America.

Thank you for letting me know someone else out there is repelled by the materialistic, malignant event this has become. May you enjoy the true celebration of Jesus’ birth during this holiday. He gave the ultimate gift to man — that of salvation and reconciliation to God.

J. ALLEN BENNETT

Malvern, Ark.

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Cal Thomas is “not sure it’s worth keeping Christmas anymore” and notes that the “American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are performing their annual ritual of keeping the public square (including the public school) clean of any mention of Jesus Christ, unless that mention is intended as a curse word.”

This year, the ritual follows the forced removal of former Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments display from the Alabama State Supreme Court and the threatened removal of the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

If civil libertarians are so convinced that such symbols as a Christmas creche on public property violate the separation of church and state, I have a challenge for them. Let the liberal lawyers sue and our liberal legislators submit legislation to remove Christmas as a federal, state and local holiday. If anything constitutes an “establishment of religion,” doesn’t that?

The phrase “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote later assuring some religious leaders that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.

It did not, however, prohibit government association with religion and was not intended to be used as a club to drive all signs of religion from public life. Indeed, on the very next day after the first Congress passed the First Amendment, it set aside a national day of prayer and Thanksgiving. The founders established this country fleeing the same religious persecution exhibited by those now determined to drive every expression of faith, however innocuous, from the public square.

“God” appears nowhere in the Constitution but obviously was on the minds of those who wrote it, as evidenced by an earlier document, the Declaration of Independence, when the signers observed that we are endowed, not by government, but by the “creator,” with the “unalienable rights” they sought to protect.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

On the bench

I welcome the debate with Timothy P. Carney (“Specter’s independence,” letters, Nov. 30) in response to my letter (“Specter’s ‘independence,’ ” Nov. 24) noting that Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, has in fact supported President Bush’s nominees and would be an effective chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

What Mr. Carney omitted noting was that Mr. Specter supported — without a litmus test on the abortion question — strong pro-life Supreme Court justices such as William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Nor was there any mention of the significant role Mr. Specter played in the confirmation of Justice Thomas.

Regardless, Mr. Bush does not seem to share in Mr. Carney’s concern. He stated in Pittsburgh this week: “I’m proud of [Mr. Specters] leadership for the state of Pennsylvania. I look forward to working with him as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the United States Senate to make sure my judges get through and get appointed.”

WILLIAM H. REYNOLDS

Director of communications and legal counsel

Sen. Arlen Specter

Washington

Full service?

I read John M. Bridgeland’s Tuesday Op-Ed column, “Building a culture of service,” with a mixture of interest and cynicism. After graduating from college, I completed two years of service in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and I am convinced those years will stand out as the most fulfilling and important of my life.

Unfortunately, President Bush likes to put a lot of rhetoric behind the importance of national service without backing it up with action. Why was he silent when funding for AmeriCorps was slashed recently in Congress? If the president truly cared about AmeriCorps, as he claimed during his State of the Union address, why didn’t he use his influence to salvage the program and prevent the recent cuts? It is obvious that Mr. Bush likes to highlight AmeriCorps only when it serves him politically.

Thousands of young people seeking to make this country a better place through service in AmeriCorps were given the message that Congress and the Bush administration had better things to do than help save this significant program.

Pundits scratch their heads in wonder when young people are disgusted by politicians. Is it any surprise that young people don’t vote in high numbers? The president and Congress failed to deliver on an issue near and dear to the younger generation. If only we had thousands of lobbyists in the pockets of the president and congressional leaders like multimillion-dollar corporations do.

National service must remain a priority in this country, but this will happen only when the president supports it with action, not empty rhetoric. Maybe he should think about that when he asks young people to vote for him in 2004.

MELISSA FRAZIN

AmeriCorps NCCC alumna

Charleston, S.C., campus 2001-2003

Northbrook, Ill.

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