Ritalin is Not the Solution to Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
Parents should stop making hasty decisions and consider alternatives when deciding whether or not to use Ritalin, a drug prescribed for children with Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (AD[H]D. It is important for parents to realize a hasty decision, on their part or on their doctor's part, may lead to a misdiagnosis of their child's true condition which may just be an overactive child. If parents are treating just an overactive child with Ritalin, they may just be "Drugging Up" their child for no good reason.
In his book, The Misunderstood Child, Larry B. Silver, M.D. Describes ADHD as behaviors in children that may be described as "Developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity." Then after describing each one of these three behaviors, he writes "There are many reasons why children and adolescents might be hyperactive, distractible and/or impulsive. It is important to understand that not all who show these behaviors have ADHD."(51) It is a common misconception for parents, teachers and sometimes even doctors to confuse an ADHD child with just an overactive child.
Some parents may argue that their children have ADHD because they have a short attention span. Other parents may argue that their children have ADHD because they fidget or squirm in their seat and blurt out answers before questions are completed. Other behaviors such as talking excessively, not listening when spoken to directly, and running about or climbing excessively at inappropriate times are also used to declare ADHD. These six behaviors are actual items on the ADHD Checklist produced by the American Psychiatric Association.
While it is true that all the above behaviors relate directly to ADHD, it is not true that if a child possesses one or two of these behaviors that he or she has the disorder. Lynell Hancock, author of the article in Newsweek, "Mother's Little Helper," mentions that six or more of these items must exist in a child for that child to be considered for ADHD (n.pag.). The question professionals have to ask is "Do they exist in a way that significantly impairs the child?" According to Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D., authors of Driven to Distraction, the diagnosis of an attention deficit disorder ". . .depends not just upon the presence of symptoms but upon the intensity and duration of those symptoms. Most children are distractible, impulsive, and restless some of the time" (43).
Shirley E. Perlman also focuses on the diagnosis of ADHD in her article, "The Ritalin RX: Controversy, Abuse." She refers to Peter Jensen, chief of the child disorders research branch of the National Institute of Mental Health who remarks ". . .it requires a comprehensive assessment of the child's environment, biological factors, school, home, and review of...