I'm not alone when I speak for parents who are scratching their heads when they're told by a neurological pediatrician that their child needs medication to help manage their hyperactive behavior.
Most of the time, the final diagnosis is based on a series of questions that, if answered affirmatively, demonstrates the child has a disorder that must be treated. Otherwise, the child will not "fit" into social settings. As you know, questionnaires can be skewed to arrive at a desired conclusion.
Is there something wrong with kids today that they need to be medicated with such drugs as Ritalin, Strattera and Adderall? It's almost as if, according to Dr. Michael Gerson, associate psychology professor at California Lutheran University, kids today are beng "redefined as physically and mentally defective creatures" who need to be medicinally managed. Many parents buy into these scare tactics in which a medically untrained teacher or a pediatrician will guilt trip them into putting their child on medications some of which are narcotics.
When I was in the second grade, I couldn't sit still. I was bouncing off the walls. Math, spelling and social studies was boring. I'd rather draw cartoons while the teacher lectured the class. I remained the same way until high school. Did I need to be medicated? Some health care professionals would've advised my unsuspecting parents to put me on drugs. However, my teachers dealt with my childhood jitters by making me sit out in the hall for an hour and not disturb the class, or be assigned an of detention after school.
I never matured to care enough about my education until I entered college. Then I buckled down and earned a B.A. and two master degrees . . . all without taking stimulants to help me concentrate.
The solution for today's' fidgeting generation may just be the need to mature. And teachers and parents are going to have to exercise tough discipline until that maturation occurs. Am I advocating that parents delay their gratification with their precious child receiving educational honors? Yes, and some parents may never get to put a bumper sticker on their car that reads, "My child is an honor student at Stratera Elementary School."
In the meantime parents are going to have to be tougher on their kids regarding rewards and punishment when it comes to their kid's behavior in school.
I empathize with teachers who have to discipline out-of-control children in their classrooms. The job really belongs to parents.
There have been countless times when I've witnessed children ages 3-6 running around a restaurant, climbing over empty booths or playing with condiments on the table. The parents ignore their offspring's foolishness and other patrons are forced to suffer. The children learn little discipline, have no consequences for their behavior and cannot handle the word "no." Then these kids enter school and they can't sit down. They've been trained by their parents that they don't have to sit still.
The teachers don't want to deal with a jumpy bunch of kids, so they recommend medication. It's Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
As a parent I advocate that drugs are not the answer. Treating our children today as if they have some mental disorder - ADD. ADHD - has gotten out of hand. An American Psychologist article estimated that as many as 20% of U.S. youths meet the criteria for mental disorder. I wonder how many of those psychologists conducting the tests meet the same criteria for mental disorders.
Dr. Gerson advocates rather than describing children with some sort of deficiency, perhaps they are merely spirited, rude and obnoxious kids. They need to learn how to behave in a social setting, respect the rights of others to speak without being interrupted and to sit still when an adult is speaking. Instead, we have bought into a pharmaceutical solution that everything can be fixed with a pill.
Another issue that links to hyperactive behavior is diet. How hard is it for parents to not give their kids sugar loaded cereals for breakfast and send them off to school bouncing off the walls? If you feed your child a high intake of sugar - soda, candy, sugar coated cereal - they will become hyperactive.
When the sugar rush drops off, the child experiences low blood sugar levels, becomes sleepy and cannot concentrate. For parents today, it's too hard to keep their kids from sugar, so they've opted for 20 mgs of amphetamines or Adderall.
Other blogs suggest alternative ways to deal with hyperactivity.
The worst by-product of the over-stimulated generation is telling them that they're "victims" of their disorder. "I can't help or stop the way I behave. It's my ADHD. I have a chemical imbalance."
The child is taught they no longer need to take responsibility for themselves. What is the answer to the child who is taught he or she is a victim of a disorder? Mommy and Daddy will fix them with pills, and put more money into the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these medications.
Before you put your ten-year-old on stimulants or the controversial drug Ritalin, consider your little one is only a child. A nine or ten year old finds it hard to sit still. They are restless, not hyperactive.
Because your child cannot concentrate does not prove he or she has a disorder. Right now I'm drinking a cup of coffee containing a fair amount of caffeine. Why? Because at this time of the day, I need a pick up to help me concentrate. Do I have a disorder? Should I go on amphetamine pills just because the caffeine pokes me awake for the next few hours?
Parents, don't be led as lambs to the slaughter when your MD prescribes a drug that can potentially harm your child. Beware your pediatrician will assure you that kids who have bad side-effects from these drugs are in the minority.
Don't believe them. Adderall suppresses a child's appetite and your kid will eat less affecting both his nutritional intake and growth patterns. To fix this problem, your pediatrician may prescribe Human Growth Hormones to fix a medical condition they created.
Also, kids who take Adderall are using what is commonly called on the streets, "speed" or "uppers." So your child is already being introduced to the world of drugs . . . thanks to your pediatrician. You are taking a chance that your kid may be getting high off the amphetamines you dose out to him each morning at breakfast! He may soon graduate to pot or a stronger stimulant, cocaine. Consider that Adderall and other stimulants/narcotics meant to correct ADD and ADHD may be your child's gateway into the dark world of drug abuse.
Doctors will argue against what I am saying, and quote all kinds of clinical studies. But there is only one study that matters and that is the behavior of your child. That's hard evidence your MD cannot refute.