My Roles As a Mother and Brain Health Advocate Are Intertwined
By Erin Cordry, Beck’s mom
I’m in a unique position to talk about brain health discoveries because they have been essential for each of my sons. A pioneering brain cancer research trial saved Max’s life when he was 8, and new understanding around treating mental health issues has been essential for Beck.
When Beck was 4, he grew overly anxious and worried excessively; at 6, he refused to eat anything with even a trace of sugar in it. As time went on, he became fixated on germs. He washed his hands so vigorously that they literally bled. We grew more and more concerned.
After years of searching, Beck was diagnosed at age 9 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Dr. Geoffrey Wiegand, the former head of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Clinic at Seattle Children’s, basically saved our lives when he prescribed a combination of exposure therapy and medication that began to make a difference.
But Beck’s experience brought home stark realities around barriers to access for mental health care. As an example, we saw Dr. Wiegand in private practice because his hospital clinic caseload was full ‒ clearly not an option for many families due to financial and other constraints. The staff at Seattle Children’s is outstanding, and we need to find ways to provide this high-quality mental health care for all kids.
Beck is now 17 and still has to manage obstacles, but they don’t define him. In the summers he enjoys all types of water sports and spends his winters ski racing down mountains all over the Pacific Northwest.
Speaking up for Brain Health
Any family who has a child facing mental health challenges knows that it’s a hard road marked with misunderstandings and sometimes even critical judgment. The social stigma around these conditions can be overwhelming. For many people, if they can’t see the problem, they can’t understand it. You’d never ask a child with a broken leg to stop being lazy and get up and play football, yet this is how many kids with ADHD, OCD and other mental health issues are treated every day. Did you know that by age 12, a child with ADHD will hear 20,000 negative comments about themselves?
When your child is diagnosed with a neurological condition, generally the current approach is to treat the symptoms and behaviors. The doctors at Seattle Children’s are focused on detecting and treating the root causes of illness for each individual child — a personalized medicine approach. This is groundbreaking!
Our Community Can Help
Seattle Children’s focus on brain and mental health offers hope to kids around the world, and we can lead this revolution. We are on the brink of a new era of understanding around how brain disorders are connected to each other and to brain development. We can only move this forward with the support of philanthropy.
We have an amazing team of doctors ready to take this to the next level, and I know that, thanks to our generous community, we can make it happen!