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A.D.H.D. Treatment for Young Children

November 9, 2012

In the New York Times article, Drugs to Treat A.D.H.D. Reach the Preschool Set, author Roni Caryn Rabin discusses the growing trend of A.D.H.D. medications being used for young children. The article discusses the hardships faced in trying to determine if a child truly needs medication or not. Is this growing trend of prescribing children under six really necessary, or can something else be done?

The article starts by telling the story of Ruth Grau, who was informed that her 3-year-old son had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D. Ruth and her husband did not want to medicate their young son, so they worked to try and change his behavior by introducing their son to more exercise, occupational therapy and a healthier diet. In Kindergarten, their son was said to still have difficulty sitting down, was fidgeting, had trouble staying on task and would constantly want to go outside and play, characteristics that I believe all kindergarteners portray. Ruth was told that her son was falling behind in school. Ruth’s son began medication at the mere age of five.

Ruth’s son, however, is not the only child being put on medications for A.D.H.D. at an incredibly young age. The article explains that Methylphenidates, such as Ritalin, are being prescribed often to children under six, even though it is not approved. I find it incredibly disturbing that children are being prescribed a medication that is not prescribed for them. Critics are saying that Americans are quickly relying on medications to help with A.D.H.D. instead of looking to discipline or life changes.

According to a study, the amount of children between the ages of six and twelve who are taking medications for A.D.H.D. is steadily increasing. As discussed in class, there has been a 700 percent increase in A.D.H.D. drug prescribing since 1990, which I believe shows that doctors are diagnosing A.D.H.D. way too frequently. Behavioral psychologists admit difficulty in telling the difference between a typical young child and one with A.D.H.D. If this is the case, I do not think doctors should not be jumping to medications so quickly. Many children on A.D.H.D. medications loose weight, stop growing, suffer insomnia and become moody and nervous. I believe that more emphasis needs to be placed on efforts to reduce A.D.H.D. rather than just medications. These medications are not good for our children and this major increase, I believe is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

Kelsey Wolfe

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2012 6:50 am

    There are just so many things that can cause things that can be seen as symptoms of ADHD. Kids today have a lot more access to technology, instant gratification (oftentimes in the form of technology), and just… a lot more than they used to. Physical activity and proper nutrition is being valued less. If children aren’t taught to focus and delay gratification and impulse control before kindergarten, what makes anybody think they’re going to magically be able to do it when they start school?

    It’s really quite sad to me that doctors are so quick to prescribe ADHD meds. I have no doubt that it can be helpful in some situations. But it’s the same thing as (I believe) with anti-depressants. While undoubtedly helpful at times, they don’t get to the root of the problem. Just push the symptoms away. Starting that in the first years of life is truly very sad.

    Ben Williams – Soc of Mental Health

  2. November 21, 2012 6:05 pm

    Just want to add that there are many competing theories out there for the supposed rise in ADHD: overwhelming presence of screens in children’s lives (as Ben mentioned), overwhelmed parents with perhaps not “enough” time with their children, changes in what is considered acceptable discipline (who would want to admit publicly that they think some children “need” an occasional spanking?), conflicting ideas of what is “normal” behavior for children, higher academic goals for younger children, less recess, poor diets, pollutants, GMO foods, etc. I also note that *most* children *do* behave in school, so the ones who do not truly DO stand out. An interesting study to do (or find, if it’s been done) is to look at how long parents and doctors hold out BEFORE prescribing medication — in my (limited!) experience, they hold out quite a long time, and try other types of interventions before finally admitting they “have” to try medication. Unfortunately, all the various types of interventions possible are often NOT possible, at least in any kind of immediate way. How do parents spent more time with their kids, for instance, if they both work? Can every family cut out screens “Enough”? Do some kids need them *entirely* removed and if so, is that feasible? Do some children “need” a different learning environment, but it is simply not available? I agree that medicating young children is troublesome…I also think that sometimes it appears not to be the FIRST thing people try, but to be perceived as a necessary “last resort.”

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