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ADHD And Its Drug Culture

Updated on March 12, 2011

Today when parents and teachers meet for conferences it is frequently reported how the children are fidgeting in their chairs. There are additional reports of how children are also disruptive in class by speaking out of turn. With the current culture where no child is left behind, many more parents find themselves being counseled by teachers to seek professional assistance for their children who fail to maintain the proper and statuesque pose during class time. The collection of teachers, administrators, doctors and upright drug companies would like you to know how easily the child can be “fixed” by utilizing the latest drug treatments to dull their senses. I wonder what happened to these squirmy kids in the old days, did they manage to make something of themselves or did they just waste away into jittering obscurity? No one knew how perilous ADHD actually was back then. Maybe society today could learn something from the cases of successful individuals in our history who were afflicted with ADHD and a probable topping of lead based paint from teething on the rails of their cribs. Maybe there is more to this new culture of drugs.

Children who are diagnosed with ADHD or a variation of it in most cases will continue attending school without being affected. At issue is schools are being put under more constraints as finances grow tighter and face mandatory testing for standards that when not met may result in more funding being withheld. In order to ensure that class averages meet governmental standards schools may seek an answer for their underperforming children with an ADHD diagnosis. Diagnosing with ADHD is much more cost effective than putting the children through more extensive testing needed when checking for learning disabilities. Plus, if a child is diagnosed with a learning disability the school would be required to take special measures to compensate for the child’s disability. It could cost thousands of additional dollars to assist a child with dyslexia as an example. The child could need private instruction. However a letter from the school or a simple parent-teacher conference about the squirmy child places the ball firmly in the parent’s court with doctors and modern drug companies ready and waiting to provide the latest and greatest cure for ADHD.

Some of the common prescription drugs used to treat ADHD are stimulants. Given in various forms and strengths these amphetamines are meant to calm the squirmy child. Newer drugs being offered make claims they are not stimulants but have side effects for those taking them. These side effects include irritability, sleeplessness and loss of appetite. It reads much like the label one would expect to see on a label for cocaine. In many cases doctors also need to prescribe a sleep aid to the child because of the stimulant they prescribed to treat the ADHD. The lack of a understanding surrounding brain chemistry prevents doctors from understanding exactly how the drugs work in children. Nor do they know what kind of long term effects the use of these drugs will have on the children taking them. These reasons alone should make a parent pause to consider all the options when facing a decision to treat a child with drugs for ADHD.

There may be some who do not know what ADHD means. It is Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder. It may be the answer for the limited resources that overworked teachers have at their disposal. It could be the answer for drug companies and the doctors who are constantly exposed to their marketing. If schools were to test for learning disabilities, based upon the results they may have to make costly accommodations for that child. A miracle pill may seem like an easy solution to their problem, but maybe alternatives should be explored before drugging the squirmy children.

Look through history for kids that would have been diagnosed with ADHD. Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and John F. Kennedy would all be drugged today. However, back then gifted individuals such as these often received special accommodations rather than drugs. Private schools are the option today, but only to the few who can afford them. In today’s two income society home schooling is rarely a real option. Testing for learning disabilities alone can often cost hundreds of dollars. Have we already lost our next Einstein to the “drug the squirmy kid” mentality that is prevalent today? Just imagine the advances in the field of patent clerks that we would enjoy today, had Einstein’s mind been stilled through medication. Not every child that speaks out of turn has the ability to change the direction of our world and there may be instances where medication is considered. However alternatives to medication should also be given their due considerations.

Children are miraculous in their ability to adjust and many will simply learn and adapt. There are cases where ADHD can actually be an asset rather than a hindrance. Children with ADHD find that activities and sports are great outlets for them. Expressive activities can be an excellent outlet and alternative to medication. Some children find that a disciplined schedule is successful. Some children may find that none of these help. However a child that looks forward to playing basketball after school could find the resolve to settle in for science. By spending time with the child one can find insight into their thoughts and give them confidence which they need when diagnosed with ADHD.

In the end it is up to the parents to not be bullied by school administrators or doctors when it comes to treating their children with drugs. Informed decisions need to be made that are truly in the best interests of the children. If that decision is medication then monitor the side effects and be prepared to switch to something new should there be a need. A change in the personality is something that often goes unnoticed by doctors that parents pick up on in minutes. Look out for loss of appetite, headaches and if they occur re-evaluate if the benefits are worth it. Many different options are available for children who suffer from ADHD and medication is only one of them. There are natural and behavioral options which may be of greater benefit to the child.

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