If I was to suggest to people that they feed their children brain-altering drugs that, when abused, have the same effect as cocaine, people would be astonished and regard me as some form of monster.
And yet, this is exactly what is happening to an increasing numbers of children. In the last ten years, in the UK alone, the number of prescriptions for methylphenidate has grown from 700,000 to 1.5 million. The most common form of the drug is called Ritalin and is the medicine of choice for the treatment of ADHD.
However, it is worth examining some facts behind this relatively newly ‘diagnosed’ illness. Firstly, there is no medical test that can be administered that will determine an absolute case of ADHD. Determination is decided by observation of a number of possible symptoms, of which more in a minute.
Such symptoms should be observed in at least two different situations although, increasingly, a limited set of the potential symptoms observed by one person is used for referral.
As far as ages of people with ADHD are concerned, although the average age seems to be around seven years old, practitioners in the USA reckon that it is possible to observe the symptoms in children as young as three or four.
So what are these symptoms? Here is a list ‘symptoms’ which are supposed to indicate ADHD.
• Self-focused behaviour
• Trouble waiting their turn
• Temper tantrums
• Problems playing quietly
• Unfinished tasks
• Lack of focus
• Avoidance of tasks needing extended mental effort
• Trouble getting organised
What this seems to imply is that there are a growing number of children (twice as many as ten years ago) that we want to be model children that sit in school and accept everything that is thrown at them. If they do not do that then let’s give them a brain-altering drug to suppress them.
Could it be that poor parenting and basic behaviour training in early years could be part of the problem? Could it also have something to do with more creative children being bored with an academically driven syllabus?
Perhaps it is most telling that people that wish to support the case for ADHD reckon that Leonardo Di Vinci and Mozart probably had ADHD, not to mention Justin Timberlake and Richard Branson! What a good job they didn’t get given Ritalin!
Perhaps, instead of putting brain-altering drugs into households that may well end up abusing them as a prescription equivalent of cocaine, we go back to celebrating the diversity of young people and their uniqueness.
I may be wrong, but having read that list of symptoms of people with ADHD, I cannot help feeling that most of the population have it!