A Search for a Solution
Edyl Reznik, a Tzfat mother of seven, had grown concerned after hearing friends repeatedly express their worries about their children's' difficulties in school, and in life. "It was everywhere you looked" Mrs. Reznik exclaimed "and the only solution that most parents were finding was to medicate their children."
As Mrs. Reznik researched the issue of options for dealing with children who had been diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, she became convinced that there were other, and better choices than the over-prescribed Ritalin. It was often the first choice of the doctors, the educators, and finally, the parents who had reached the end of their ropes, she realized, when too often other methods and techniques hadn't even been tried.
Developing a Holistic Program
So Mrs. Reznik began a comprehensive program of behavior modification, B'Derech HaMelech. The modification, however, isn't as much to modify the children's behavior as it is to work on that of the parents'. The goal of the program is to provide parents', whose children exhibit various behavior problems, with the proper medical and diagnostic information, to avoid the abuse of Ritalin ("we're not anti-Ritalin", Mrs. Reznik emphasizes, "but we try to find strategies so that it doesn't become the only tool available to deal with difficult children) and train the parents in a variety of techniques that will allow them to successfully deal with their child, both at home and in school. The program concentrates on children who are believed to be ADD, ADHD, gifted, or dyslexic.
Diagnosing the Problem
Each new case begins with a phone call - to help insure families' privacy and confidentiality, most of the consultations and assistance takes place over the phone. The B'Derech HaMelech staff, which consists of educational and psychological professionals, complete an intake questionnaire, which is designed to look at the child's present situation regarding education, nutrition, eye-hand coordination, and social skills, among other issues. As the counseling progresses, the staff works with the parents on an individual basis to strengthen their parenting skills while insuring that all other possible causes of the child's difficult behavior are checked. "We find that many children are suffering from any of 35 undiagnosed medical issues" Mrs. Reznick explains, "including vision problems, sleep disorders, blood sugar issues and auditory problems, and often, they manifest as behavioral problems".
The staff of B'Derech HaMelech works out of the Reznik home in the Old City of Tzfat. In addition to the individual counseling, they create materials and run seminars for parents who want some general assistance in raising their families. They work in conjunction with a board that consists of medical doctors and Rabbis, and because of the emphasis on Jewish Law, the vast majority of their clientele are religious Jews. "We have people calling us from all over the world" Mrs. Reznik says "because there really is nothing else like this program that combines up-to-date medical and psychological data with a sensitivity to these peoples' religious needs.
"Doctors are sometimes obsessed with 'disease'" Mrs. Reznik sighs "but when you work with a model that integrates knowledge from a variety of disciplines, you can make a much stronger impact". One suspects that this is true on a much wider scale than that which B'Derech HaMelech works with, and can only hope that professionals throughout the world will take note.
B'Derech HaMelech may be contacted at [email protected] or by phone, 972-4-6925251.