More U.S. Children Being Diagnosed

Link 2012/04/14 16:01:57


More U.S. Children Being Diagnosed With Youthful Tendency Disorder

September 27, 2000 |

ISSUE 36•34

REDLANDS, CA–Nicholas and Beverly Serna's daughter Caitlin was only four years old, but they already knew there was a problem.

More U.S. Children Being Diagnosed With Youthful Tendency Disorder

after day, upon arriving home from preschool, Caitlin would retreat
into a bizarre fantasy world. Sometimes, she would pretend to be people
and things she was not. Other times, without warning, she would burst
into nonsensical song. Some days she would run directionless through the
backyard of the Sernas' comfortable Redlands home, laughing and
shrieking as she chased imaginary objects.

When months of sessions with a local psychologist failed to yield an
answer, Nicholas and Beverly took Caitlin to a prominent Los Angeles
pediatric neurologist for more exhaustive testing. Finally, on Sept. 11,
the Sernas received the heartbreaking news: Caitlin was among a growing
legion of U.S. children suffering from Youthful Tendency Disorder.

"As horrible as the diagnosis was, it was a relief to finally know,"
said Beverly. "At least we knew we weren't bad parents. We simply had a
child who was born with a medical disorder."

Onion Med Watch

Tendency Disorder (YTD), a poorly understood neurological condition
that afflicts an estimated 20 million U.S. children, is characterized by
a variety of senseless, unproductive physical and mental exercises,
often lasting hours at a time. In the thrall of YTD, sufferers run,
jump, climb, twirl, shout, dance, do cartwheels, and enter unreal,
unexplainable states of "make-believe."

"The Youthful child has a kind of love/hate relationship with
reality," said Johns Hopkins University YTD expert Dr. Avi Gwertzman.
"Unfit to join the adult world, they struggle to learn its mores and
rules in a process that can take the entirety of their childhood. In the
meantime, their emotional and perceptive problems cause them to act out
in unpredictable and extremely juvenile ways. It's as though they can
only take so much reality; they have to 'check out,' to go Youthful for a

On a beautiful autumn day in Asheville, NC, six-year-old Cameron
Boudreaux is swinging on a park swingset–a monotonous, back-and-forth
action that apparently gives him solace. Spotting his mother on a nearby
bench, Cameron rushes eagerly to her and asks, "Guess what?" His mother
responds with a friendly, "What?"

Common YTD Warning Signs

unbridled glee, Cameron shouts, "Chicken butt!"--cryptic words
understood only by him--before laughing and dashing off again, leaving
his mother distraught over yet another baffling non-conversation.

"I must admit, it's been a struggle," Mary Boudreaux said. "What can I
say to him when he says something like that, something that makes no
sense? Or when he runs through the house yelling while I'm trying to
balance the checkbook? You can't just say, 'Please, Cameron, don't have a
disorder for just a few minutes so I can concentrate.'"

Cameron's psychological problems run even deeper. He can name every one of his beloved, imaginary Pokemon
characters, but the plain realities of the actual world he inhabits are
an enigma: Ask Cameron the name of the real-life city councilman
sponsoring the referendum to renovate the park just across the street
from his house–a park he plays in daily–and he draws a blank.

According to Dr. Dinesh Agarwal, director of child psychiatry at NYU
Medical Center, such disconnectedness from reality is a coping mechanism
for YTD sufferers. "The Youthful child is born into a world he or she
does not fully understand," Agarwal said. "Their brain pathways are
still forming, and they need to repetitively relearn how to assimilate
into society. These disassociative play-fantasies apparently help them
accomplish that."

Debra Cottle of Malden, MA, discusses her daughter's recently diagnosed YTD with pediatric neurologist Dr. Amy Yuan.

such fantasies come at a price, producing in Youthful children a
disinterest in the everyday responsibilities of life bordering on

"Jesse knows when it's his turn to take out the trash. We've gone
over the house rules a dozen times," said Richard Torres, a Davenport,
IA, father of three whose nine-year-old son Jesse was recently diagnosed
with YTD. "And still he neglects the job time and again."

Slowly, methodically, through an elaborate system of rewards and
punishments, Jesse has shown improvement. But the road ahead is long.

"We get a lot of platitudes from the so-called experts," Torres said.
"We hear a lot of, 'Oh, he'll grow out of it, just give it time.'
That's easy for them to say–their kid's not running around the
neighborhood claiming to be Superman."

Help for families struggling with YTD may soon be on the way. At last
month's annual AMA Convention, Smithkline-Beecham unveiled Juvenol, a
promising YTD drug which, pending FDA approval, could reach the U.S.
market as early as next spring. Already available in France and Sweden,
Juvenol, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported, resulted in a 60 percent decrease in running and jumping among users.

But until such help arrives, the parents of YTD sufferers can do little more than try to get through each day.

"I love my child with all my heart," said Alexandra Torres, Jesse's
mother. "But when he's in the throes of one of his skipping fits, it's
hard not to feel a little envious of parents with normal, healthy

mother throes skipping fits feel envious parents normal healthy children

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  • Pat 2012/04/15 00:02:58
    If we only let children be children, I think a lot of other problems would go away. Funny article, sad but true.
  • Link Pat 2012/04/15 01:15:03
  • ♫♪‼Chloey Arddun‼♫♪ 2012/04/14 22:49:19 (edited)
    ♫♪‼Chloey Arddun‼♫♪
    Oh you mean that thing where children act like Children? sad isn't it.....
  • Link ♫♪‼Chlo... 2012/04/15 01:15:21
    Yeah, that would be it... LOL...
  • ♫♪‼Chlo... Link 2012/04/15 01:28:08
    ♫♪‼Chloey Arddun‼♫♪
    lol that's funny, but so sad at the same time that tyou can't even be a kid or they will classify it as a disorder
  • Xerxes 2012/04/14 20:13:46
  • Scott ヶBrony Of PHAETヶ 2012/04/14 18:14:47
    Scott ヶBrony Of PHAETヶ
    The Onion News Network is the best news station on the planet.
  • Link Scott ヶ... 2012/04/14 18:17:40 (edited)
    I agree... many of my posts are from the Onion...
  • seattleman 2012/04/14 17:59:32
    Sounds like Caitlin needs some medication. Maybe some pills would fix her. I mean, there's nothing like the pharmacy to bring ya back to reality, right? pharmacy drugs
  • Mz Understood 2012/04/14 17:35:31
    Mz Understood
    I think ALL children should "suffer" through YTD. It's the only time in their lives where they can be so open and free. Hope they never come up with a vaccine for this.
  • Link Mz Unde... 2012/04/14 18:11:51
    And adults should try to tap into the same from time to time.. we tend to forget how to be a child as we age... and then there are those "adults" who never grow out of it at all...
  • Mz Unde... Link 2012/04/14 18:29:28
    Mz Understood
    Amen! I would love to have a case of YTD. It's been a long time since I was stricken with it.
  • Link Mz Unde... 2012/04/14 18:34:03
    Yep, we tend to lose our inner child...
  • Nam Era Vet #1 DNA TLC 2012/04/14 16:17:15
    Nam Era Vet #1 DNA TLC

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