Thursday, August 16, 2012

Medicating children for ADHD too rash?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through to adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. There are so many controversies from all over the world about every aspect of the disorder ranging from the symptoms to the type of treatment including medication or interventions, and some even question the genuine existence of the disorder. I, myself, don't doubt that there is a disorder but I think that there are some valid points in the social construction theories. Psychiatrists Peter Breggin and Sami Timimi oppose pathologizing the symptoms of ADHD. Sami Timimi, who is an NHS child and adolescent psychiatrist, explains ADHD as a social construct rather than an objective 'disorder'. I think there are many alternatives to medicating children and their under developed minds.The most common medication used on children are stimulants that are supposed to calm the child down. These stimulant medications come in different forms, such as a pill, capsule, liquid, or skin patch. Some medications also come in short-acting, long-acting, or extended release varieties. The most commonly reported side effects are decreased appetite, sleep problems, anxiety, and irritability. Some children also report mild stomachaches or headaches. Most side effects are minor and disappear over time or if the dosage level is lowered. According to several reports, long-term stimulant use can slow physical growth by 1.2 cm per year and slightly increase blood pressure and heart rate. Stimulant use among preschool children is greater in the US than anywhere else: 0.44% of preschoolers in the US are prescribed stimulants, compared with 0.05% of preschoolers in the Netherlands, 0.02% of preschoolers in Germany, and 0% of preschoolers in the UK. In conclusion to these statistics, I can't help but wonder if the initial causes of some cases of ADHD are bigger than just one child's home or school life, it extends to the habits and developmental stages the children are raised into in America. Could it really be all the stimulating technology and easy conveniences we have as Americans that influences children's behavioral mishaps? Children these days are glued to their game systems, hand held games, and also a lot more television because of the lack of imagination and parents lack to stimulate the imagination and create an assertive, controlled environment for children. It is said that teachers are in a lot of cases the first one to consider if a child has ADHD by how that child behaves during school. Well could it be possible that the teachers handle so many children that their idea of what a "normal behavior pattern" could be too narrow cut? I think so. Anthropologist Sara Harkness cited studies she and child psychologist Charles Super have conducted comparing Dutch and American parenting styles: "The Dutch parents we studied were very closely attuned to their children's state of arousal and self-regulation, making sure that the child got plenty of sleep and that the environment was not overly stimulating. For Dutch parents, this was just a normal aspect of good parenting, whereas for American parents this approach might seem somewhat extreme, called for only when the child is really out of control."
What can parents do for their children as an alternative to medication?
Parents should keep a close watch on the child and could start by changing and monitoring the sleeping and eating habits to see if that brings about a change. The next step should be classroom intervention where the child works with both their teachers and parents for extra help before resorting to different medications.

Works Cited:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Social construct theory of ADHD
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
28 July 2012 at 02:22

Diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
NIH Consens Statement. 1998 Nov 16-18

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A selected overview
Department of Pediatric Psychopharmacology Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

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