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?

Is It Okay to Medicate Kids Into Better Students?



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