Attention Deficit Disorder

English – 108

April 1, 2004

Five Pages # 1

Whether to treat a child suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not questioned. The method of treatment and its consequences need to be considered a factor before administering chemical treatments. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is characterized by short attention spans, impulsiveness, and in the case of ADHD, hyperactivity. The research acknowledged in the following paper suggests that ADD and ADHD are genetic brain conditions that have been misunderstood for decades. Our children are the future and society needs to reconsider damaging it.

Proper diagnosis and treatment can create peace and normalcy in otherwise chaotic lives. However, there is a threat with the progress and development of chemical treatment. Is the chance worth taking when regarding children’s present and future lives? ADHD has become a main topic in local and national newspapers, magazines, and TV programs. The programs have featured stories on ADHD and on Ritalin. There are many forms of medication used in the treatment of ADHD. The most noted drug, Ritalin, a stimulant medication that has been prescribed for decades, has been featured as one of the main debated drugs. There are proven benefits of this treatment. Peter Jaksa, a psychologist and president of the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association, contends that the genetic brain disorder is misunderstood and treatment is condemned without weighing these benefits.

In another aspect, here are media reports which have proven factors validating people’s fears and apprehensions about ADHD and chemical medications. These fears instill apprehension and guilt in parents considering medicating their children. Understandably, the focal point in a number of books written by self-proclaimed experts that cover the controversial issue of ADHD and Ritalin is fear. Argumentatively, some believe that ADHD is a “myth pushed by the health professions, teachers and educators for a number of reasons. Profit, notoriety and recognition are just a few reasons why this disorder and treatment may be glamorized. Advocacy organizations such as CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) and other national organizations are supported and influenced by the pharmaceutical companies.

The question then arises, “Who do we trust?” The “experts” who write about the “myth” of ADHD and exaggerate the dangers of medication? Preference seems to lean towards actual documented testing results. The study examining the effectiveness of psychostimulant medication in preschoolers enlightens society with the benefits and side effects for methylphenidate and mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall). Twenty-eight preschoolers (ages 4.0-5.9) are evaluated and the results indicate preschoolers’ behavioral ratings by parents and teachers improved as a result of stimulant medication. The side effects are not considered dangerous and are left highly unannounced. The evidence proving the medication safe is still extremely non-existent.

Other common behaviors that often accompany ADHD include aggression, noncompliance, and lack of social judgment (Biederman et al., 1991); that may be associated with oppositional defiant disorder or a difficult temperament. Behavioral responses resulting from environmental stressors, inadequate parenting skills, and other diagnoses can mimic ADHD symptoms. Excessive levels of the symptoms associated with ADHD can impede successful socialization, optimal learning, and goodness-of-fit in parent-child and teacher-child interactions (Barkley et al., 2002; Gadow et al., 2001).
Though diagnosis of mental health disorders in early childhood is problematic, the need for effective treatment of young children is critical (Cohen et al., 1981). Gadow et al. (2001) found that preschool children “referred for clinical evaluation evidenced higher levels of symptom severity than a community sample, with children with ADHD symptoms more impaired than other children.” Untreated ADHD symptoms in young children may predict later substance abuse, poor academic achievement, compromised parental relations, and underdeveloped coping strategies when ADHD symptoms are untreated in young children (Connor, 2002; DuPaul et al., 2001; Wilens et al., 2002). Because pharmacotherapy has demonstrated efficacy, considerable attention is needed regarding both the effectiveness and safety of psychotropic medication for preschoolers (Greenhill, 1998).
Despite the importance of early treatment of ADHD symptoms, no gold standard is available for the diagnosis and treatment of preschoolers assumed to have ADHD. One recent study addressing diagnosis and treatment of preschoolers with ADHD symptoms indicated notable variability in procedures. Rappley et al. (1999) identified 223 children aged 3 years or younger diagnosed with ADHD in the Michigan Medicaid