Ritalin: The Answer To All Our Hyperactive Children?

2318 words - 9 pages

Tommy is in his room reading his homework and trying hard to pay attention. His mom, Janet, has walked by three times in the last fifteen minutes; each time catching him not doing his work, but staring into space or playing his video games. She's been aware of his short attention span since he was in kindergarten, but she always figured it was a typical problem for kids his age. But now he's in third grade and the problem hasn't gone away. His teachers have started calling Janet and complaining about his hyperactivity during their lessons. "He refuses to raise his hand and has problems sitting still for longer than five minutes," Mrs. Hopewell told Janet one Monday night. Janet is worried that Tommy may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but she is reluctant to have him put on drugs for it. Tommy's situation isn't abnormal. In fact eight percent of children in North America have been diagnosed with ADD and are prescribed drugs. In Canada the number of children diagnosed between 1991 and 1997 increased from 205,000 to 561,000 (Donnely, 1). It is believed by scientists that ADHD occurs when receptors in the brain do not react to the brain's natural chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These receptors are engaged in focusing concentration and controlling impulsiveness (Brink, 3). ADHD started being recognized as a problem in the 1950's. In 1968 the disorder was called Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood Disorder with symptoms such as short attention span, and over activity. In 1980 the name was being called Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity). Yet again the name was changed in 1987 to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Finally, in 1994, ADHD was introduced having three subtypes: Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive and Combined Type (Dalsgaard, et al.1). There are still debates on whether or not ADD and ADHD are two separate disorders or if one is a subtype of the other. But now the problem with ADHD or ADD is not whether or not ADHD is a subtype of ADD, but rather the problem is whether or not we should be medicating our children with drugs such as Ritalin. There are many questions that we face when dealing with problems like Tommy's. Questions like the following often arise when discussing the issue: Are the side effects worth getting our children under control? Are all the children who are on Ritalin on it for just cause or are the drugs being abused? What does the future hold for these children who are using Ritalin and other stimulants? All these questions leave a lot parents wondering if they should put there young child on medications and what it will do to their future. There are some ideals that do persuade parents into giving their children stimulants. The one of the appeals, and usually a selfish one, is that the drug gets their child under control. Parents who are fed up with their child and their behavior think that...

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