Dr. Joel Sussman
by Joel P. Sussman, MD, FAAP
I have been working in the field of Behavioral Pediatrics for 32 years. I have always known that ADHD-Simplex is very rare. In my experience it only comprises about 5% of children with ADHD. For many years, I did not know why the children who tested positive for ADHD did not respond as expected to the medications that normally are effective for ADHD children.
Then, I learned first about Central Auditory Processing Deficiencies. At that time, early 1990's, I started to have my patients get CAPD evaluations if warranted. This pertained to approximtely 1/3 of my patients. A bit later, I understood that language deficiencies produced anger problems and rage reactions. I then started to get language evaluations on all children with anger or rage reactions.
About the same time, I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, so I started to investigate the children (and by this time the adults that I started to see) who had histories suggestive of sleep disorders. They may have had Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, Periodic Leg Movement Disorder of Sleep etc. etc. Part of the latter problem, along with ADHD, appeared to be iron deficiency. I then started screening all of my patients with serum Ferritin levels which are associated with Leg Movement Disorder of Sleep, ADHD and poor math scores in ADHD Adolescent Girls. About 30% of my patients have ferritin levels (iron stores) which are well below the level needed for adequate sleep and normal activity.
Then I started leaning more and more about Asperger's Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder and this explained more of the patients who just didn't fit the patterns of typical ADHD patients. I now have a large number of these patients in my practice. They take a special interest, a lot of time, and increasing awareness of the unique challenges these patients present both from a medication standpoint and an ancillary therapeutic standpoint.
In the past year, I have become more and more aware of Sensory Processing Disabilities. Though this is the latest in the ever expanding list of things that act like other things, I am sure it will not be the last. Though this disorder is not an official disorder at present time, I am sure that my fellow doctors (who are generally very slow
to understand the frustrations that patients have when there problems don't have a ready made label) will embrace this diagnosis. I see up to 200 new patients a year with all of the above problems plus a few more as well. One has to have at least this much contact with patients to get appreciation for that which is not already identified in the literature.
I have arranged for a young man to do Sensory Processing Therapy in my office starting in January. I am so excited. At first, I wasn't sure how busy he was going to be. We have only started referring patients to him as a prelude to his officially moving to my town. My concern now is will he be able to have enough time to see all of the patients that I will be sending him?
Joel P. Sussman, MD, FAAP
245 Business Park Boulevard
Columbia, SC, 29203
Dr. Sussman, thank goodness for doctors like you!! Wow, what a major difference you are/have been/and will continue to make in your patients' lives. I, personally, am so very grateful!! Thank you.
I am also so thankful that you took the time to share this information with me and my visitors... it means so much to me, and them. I am honored, and wish you the best success in this new endeavor. You are a gift.
So, is the young man who will be treating these children in your office an OT, or someone who has specialized training in sensory processing disorders/sensory integration theories? Will you have a "clinic" set up with specialized equipment and programs? I am curious and excited about how you will be treating these kids. Can you tell me/us more? We would love to hear about it! To learn more about the BEST therapists to use and how to get the most out of treatment for SPD, you can read my newsletter regarding this... Are You Ready For Sensory Integrative OT?
Thank you so much for being so open minded and for studying all that you have, and for taking the TIME it requires to do this! You are a rare gift, and one I hope you have inspired to make more common among other doctors! Thank you.
Take good care.