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. Research reveals controversial facts regarding the benefits and dangers of using chemical treatment. 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 possibly 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. (1999)

In another aspect, here are media reports that 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.

Psychiatrists and parents are torn over medicating their children suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with psychostimulants. Jason J. Wash burn, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, asked children treated for ADHD and their parents what made a difference in the child\'s behavior: Was it the pill, the child or both?

The answer depends on whom you ask, says Washburn, who presented his study of 8- to 13-year-olds at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Parents and children attributed positive results to both the medication and efforts by the child. However, parents were likely to give more credit to the medication, while children gave more credit to themselves. The findings are encouraging, says Washburn. "When these children go on medication, parents are often concerned that daily pill-taking will damage the child\'s self-esteem and that they will feel helpless without the medication," he says. "Our findings show that children don\'t ask, \'Is it the pill or me?\' They say, \'It\'s the pill and me, too.\'"

In another recent study, Handen performed a double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design study of methylphenidate (MPH) in 11 preschool children with developmental disabilities and ADHD. Doses of 0.3 or 0.6 mg/kg of MPH and a placebo were given to preschoolers, with teacher behavior checklists and clinical observations of activity level, attention, and compliance to adult requests used to evaluate drug response. Eight of the 11 preschool children responded to the medication