Saturday, December 30, 2006

Youthful Tendency Disorder on the Rise

According to a report in a reliable news source (in fact, the most reliable source)...
“Youthful 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 while."
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?"

With 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.


"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 children."
OK, OK. So this was really from the Onion. But I bet some of you thought it was a real story and you at least have to admit that it was a darn fine bit of satire! In the real world, of course, we have Risperdal and Zyprexa, among others to tame our kids (and make them plump), but I think Juvenol could have been a contender!

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