Uh-oh, Ritalin Is Not The Answer?

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I’ve been married to two women who had been diagnosed with A.D.D. One of them dealt with the symptoms by taking a small (prescribed) dosage of Ritalin. A couple of other members of my extended family have also relied on either Ritalin or Adderall over the years to better manage their focusing difficulties.

This from WebMD:

The symptoms of ADHD include inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. These are traits that most children display at some point or another. But to establish a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes referred to as ADD, the symptoms should be inappropriate for the child’s age.

and also this:

Toddlers and preschoolers with ADHD tend to be constantly in motion, jumping on furniture, and having difficulty participating in sedentary group activities. For instance, they may have trouble listening to a story.

School-age children display similar behavior but with less frequency. They are unable to remain seated, squirm a lot, fidget, or talk excessively.

In today’s New York Times, L. Alan Sroufe professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, cautions about the practice of prescribing Ritalin and Adderall as a long-term solution to deal with A.D.D. in children and young adults in a sobering reassessment:

THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning.

But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?

In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.

As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.

My son has shown some of the same symptoms associated with A.D.D. He is too young to be formally diagnosed, since some of these are common to most young children. Until now, I feared that medication was the inevitable solution. Now, I’m not so sure. There may not be a magic cure. That may not be that bad.

The rest of the Times opinion piece is here.

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