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Ritalin Essay

3110 words - 12 pages

*Missing Works Cited*

When Jason was five, his mother, Cathy, had to take him out of preschool because of his temper tantrums. She tried behavior management and parenting courses, to no avail. Eventually, Jason was diagnosed with ADHD and given the stimulant Ritalin, which controlled his outbursts. "It was like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde," Cathy said.
Jason flourished for the next six years, even winning his fifth-grade citizenship award. In sixth grade, however, his medication stopped working, and he became aggressive again. But Jason's teachers did not believe he had a disability and refused to allow any special "accommodations," like extra time to take tests. At Christmas, Jason was so depressed that he threatened to kill himself. After three weeks' treatment at a psychiatric hospital, he was put on Adderall, another stimulant, which helped him recover. Now he is back at school, this time with a full time teacher's aide and other accommodations for his disability. "He just had a midterm evaluation," Cathy said, "and his teachers all said that he was a delight to have in class."
Like Jason, more and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD or its less hyperactive cousin, attention deficit disorder (ADD). And, correspondingly, during the past decade the production of stimulants used to treat ADD has risen dramatically, (see Graph 1.). However, an increasing number of parents, doctors, and public health officials are becoming alarmed about the jump in the use of Ritalin and amphetamines to treat ADD. In the last year, at least three prestigious medical journals published articles examining whether the condition is being overdiagnosed and American children are being drugged unnecessarily, (NEA Today, 25).
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are generally characterized by abnormal levels of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity that generally show up before a child is seven years old. Although most cases are assumed to be inherited, a small percentage are thought to be caused by central nervous system damage in early childhood, which could be associated with general birth problems, such as an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck, or malnutrition during pregnancy.
Experts say that ADD can easily be confused with learning disabilities, especially dyslexia, since 25-40 percent of ADD kids- some say as many as 90 percent- also have a learning disorder, mostly related to reading. In fact, some public health experts say that ADD is not a real medical condition. Others say that it is often confused with normal behavior and misdiagosed. For instance, elevated lead levels in the blood can also cause ADD symptoms, (McCormick, 3).
Most ADD cases are treated with one of four stimulants- Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall and Cylert. By far the most widely used is Ritalin, which is manufactured by a Swiss company,...

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