Letter to Connecticut’s Attorney General’s Office.

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March 12, 2004

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
State of Connecticut
Attention:  Tom Ryan: (Mental Health Vendor Investigation: Wards of State)
(Fax) 860-808-5391

Dear Mr. Ryan:

Thank you for following up with Ablechild.org request for a meeting with the Attorney General for inclusion in the on-going State investigation into the mental health services provided to children mandated into State care.  Our organization is delighted to hear the State has launched such an investigation into the behavioral health vendors that supply mental health services to children in State care.  We are eager to have input on current procedures, and safeguards afforded to children within the Department of Family Services.

However, as discussed in our telephone conversation of March 12, 2004, several things have alarmed our organization about the investigation that is underway.  With review of the Attorney General’s Press Release and his recent article in the New York Times, our organization feels that the Attorney General has already reached a conclusion prior to the start of the investigation.  His press release reflected a conclusion that more mental health services are needed and insurance companies need to pay for these mental health services.  This concerns our national parent organization since the question is not the quantity of mental health services but the quality and nature of such services, particularly when children are misdiagnosed or over-diagnosed with a mental illness they do not have and are prescribed controversial drugs that they do not need.

There are several issues that we wish to raise regarding psychiatric drugs that are being prescribed to children in state custody.  The first issue is accountability and informed consent.  Children mandated into state care are being prescribed drugs without proper informed consent, with no accountability.  The State, itself, has yet to determine the ethical implications of using behavioral drugs on children mandated into State care[1].  There are no safeguards in place to prevent the trafficking of children into behavioral drug use and or clinical drug trials.  The State bears the responsibility and liability of this.  The second issue we wish to raise is the drug risks, and the fact that children in state care are being placed on certain drugs that are not approved for use in children.  Many of these drugs being prescribed were last year banned in the U.K. for use in children due to their propensity to cause children to commit suicide or violent acts.  On February 2nd of this year in response to the U.K.’s ban of the drugs the FDA launched its own investigation into the same drugs regarding the same safety concerns.  Our concern is that the children in state care are placed into an additional risk category, as they do not have the luxury of having a parent or caregiver to fight for their rights to informed consent and basic health and safety.  Children that are placed into state care are many times being mandated by the courts to take dangerous drugs against their will (The New England Law Review AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL ISSUES SURROUNDING THE FORCED USE OF RITALIN).  Mandating mental health services does not provide the child with their basic right to refuse “treatment”.  This raises serious constitutional issues.

A third concern our organization raises is that many of the diagnoses placed in a child’s files are derived from subjective and inaccurate testing measures.  We need to clearly point out several key points to you and will use just one diagnosis as an example-ADHD/ADD.

  • Our organization has found from documenting parents stories, that ADHD/ADD is usually the first subjective diagnosis slapped onto a child because it encompasses a vast list of behaviors that many children would fall under.
  • In 1998 the National Institute of Health issued a Consensus Statement on ADHD stating, “…We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.”
  • The Department of Defense commissioned report invalidating the tests that are being used to diagnose children.  See http://ablechild.org/right to refuse/continuous_performance_tests.htm
  • The state of Connecticut does not have a policy on ADHD nor does it endorse a test for ADHD/ADD
  • The Federal government itself does not have a policy or endorse a test for ADHD
  • Under State Statutes there must be regulations in place governing the requirements of doctors to validate a diagnosis before he/she can prescribe a controlled substance.  Without a state or federal policy in place or a valid test to substantiate a diagnosis, a red flag is raised whether doctors are in violation of the uniformed controlled substance act.
  • Forcing/mandating drugs on children without informed consent when there is no policy governing such said actions.
  • Our organization has requested that the state of Connecticut dismantle its ADHD Task Force within the Department of Special Education http://ablechild.org/Letters/letter%20to%20comissioner%20sergi%20ct%202-23-04.htm.

 

As per our conversation, the State has placed our organization into an awkward position by requesting that we provide the State with confidential case histories of children that do not have legal representation to pursue their complaints against the State.  These parents have already tried to reach every responsible person in the State of Connecticut for help and have come to AbleChild.org to request advocacy.  At this point, we can verify that the parents have legitimate concerns based on their DCF case files. We are in contact with these parents; and we are updating them on the State’s investigation. Ablechild.org does not want to jeopardize their ability to pursue legal action; and we do not represent their legal interests.   Therefore, we have encouraged them to seek legal guidance and feel it is inappropriate to supply the State with requested documents.  These parents have expressed great interest in the State’s investigation and have indicated a willingness to participate.  We will supply them with a copy of the response to this correspondence.

We feel strongly that it is of utmost importance we keep all of our parents across the country informed as to each step our organization takes in bringing forth their concerns.  We want to ensure that all aspects of the issue surrounding forced drugging of children by schools and states alike are an open and transparent process.

As discussed, AbleChild.org has been in touch with over 750 parents across the country coerced into drugging their children for behavioral/attentional issues. Our organization has been actively participating in the FDA Hearings and is currently pursuing a new federal bill “The Child Medication Safety Act” –S.1390.  Your office indicated interest in the current federal SSRIs and ADHD litigation.  See below reference attorney’s name and firm link.

We look forward to meeting with the Attorney General to help the State with its on-going investigation to ensure our parent’s voices are included.  The State of Connecticut bears a great burden and responsibility during this investigation, which has national implications.  We feel there is no better place then the Constitution State of Connecticut to scrutinize policies that affect the health and safety of children.  We look forward to your response.

Respectfully,

Sheila Matthews,
National Vice President

www.ablechild.org

fax (203) 966-2840

ph (203) 966-8419

 

cc: James Comey, Deputy Attorney General United States
Governor Rowland, State of Connecticut
Senator Sullivan, President of the Connecticut Senate
Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights:  Connecticut Chapter

Referenced: Federal Litigation: Alan Milstein, www.sskrplaw.com

Bishop Lori, President’s Commission on Mental Retardation

Three Connecticut Coercion Complainants –During Ward of CT State Status

The Hartford Courant

[1] Document reference Hearings on the federal level: The Right to Privacy Inquiry as it relates to the Use of Behavioral Modification Drugs on Children.