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Drugs to Help Kids Become Better Students

Parents: if there's a magical pill that can turn your kids from bad students into good ones, would you give it to them?

As a parent of a young child in first grade, I've been hearing a lot about how rowdy kids are increasingly being medicated - not necessarily because they have ADHD - but because that helps in school (or perhaps, help teachers keep them in line at school).

It seems that there may be something to the rumors, as Alan Schwarz of The New York Times explains in this post:

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

But is it necessarily a bad thing if medication can turn a bad student into a good one?

For some parents the pills provide great relief. Jacqueline Williams said she can’t thank Dr. Anderson enough for diagnosing A.D.H.D. in her children — Eric, 15; Chekiara, 14; and Shamya, 11 — and prescribing Concerta, a long-acting stimulant, for them all. She said each was having trouble listening to instructions and concentrating on schoolwork.

“My kids don’t want to take it, but I told them, ‘These are your grades when you’re taking it, this is when you don’t,’ and they understood,” Ms. Williams said, noting that Medicaid covers almost every penny of her doctor and prescription costs.

Some experts see little harm in a responsible physician using A.D.H.D. medications to help a struggling student.

Link | Controversy of ADHD as a disease [wikipedia]

What do you think? Is society merely forcing square pegs into the round holes of public education through the use of pharmaceuticals?

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Is It Okay to Medicate Kids Into Better Students?



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Not to sound glib (although I know that it does), I kinda miss the days when they'd medicate the moms with Valium - rather than pump the kids full of questionable pharmaceuticals to keep them "in-line."

I was of the "Mom's popping her Valium" Generation, and - yes - I was a "hyperactive" kid. Truth be told: I was BORED.

About midway through Elementary School, I ended up being designated ("diagnosed?!") as "Gifted." This was actually back in the early years of "Gifted Programs." Actually, this was BEFORE accelerated, self-study Gifted Programs existed in my school district. Once I was placed in an environment where I had the Freedom to Choose what I wanted to learn, I began to excel, academically. That NEVER would have happened - had I been doped-up on Ritalin or Adderal (or what-EVER).

Side story: A Good Friend of mine has a son who would love nothing more than to follow in his father's footsteps and join the Military. He's a very bright kid (well, Young Man, now). Extremely intelligent and articulate - but I believe he had a legitimate learning disability: Dyslexia. Well, he got lumped-in with the ADHD Crowd and was on Ritalin during most of his school years.

This is just conjecture on my part, but I think the Ritalin pretty-much eliminated his "problem child status" and forced him to conform, so he made it through school and, ultimately, got his GED.

Now, when he applies to the recruiters, NONE of the branches of the military will take him because he has a history of having been on a "Psychotropic Medication!"

True story!

Don't get me wrong... I don't deny that there ARE kids out there with legitimate ADHD issues, but I think there is a tendency to paint FAR too many kids with (cough-cough) "behavioral issues" with a far-too-broad "ADHD Brush."

But "Better Living through Chemistry" is NOT always the answer!

Just my $0.02... Keep the change!
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