A. Question Class
1.What is ADHD/ADD and how it is diagnosed?
It is estimated that between 3-10% of the population has to deal with a
Conditions known as Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder Attention
Deficit Disorder. Children with ADD have similar symptoms to those with ADHD;
the only difference is that they do not show signs of hyperactivity.
Approximately 3-5% are school-age children. It is the most common diagnosed
behavioral disorder in children and is seen in boys more than girls at a rate
of 3 to 1. At 5% each classroom in American will have one or two ADHD kids in
the class. ADHD is often very hard to diagnose because many symptoms mimic
other disorders. It should only be diagnosed by a qualified health
professional knowledgeable and experienced in ADHD. The diagnosis is very
complex because there is no one test available to diagnose ADHD. The
diagnosis includes a through clinical assessment, history taking, and
behavioral rating, which usually take a significant amount of time. There are
three groups of symptoms; they include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and
impulsivity. The child must exhibit at least six of the symptoms in a
category for at least six months. It is also required that some symptoms were
present before the age of seven.
2.What Causes ADHD?
Currently the cause of ADHD is not known.
Research done in genetics has shown ADD or ADHD could be either acquired of
inherited disorders. These disorders have been shown to run in families.
However, the specific gene or genes causing them have not been found. Another
way acquired is before birth. Toxemia, infectious diseases, exposure to
radiation, prematurely, and complicated delivery are all causes. After birth,
include meningitis, seizures from fever, head injury and lead toxicity. All
these lead to damage to the brain. Although the cause is unclear, PET scans
have found that there appears to be different levels of chemical activity.
Individuals with ADHD seem to show that there is not enough chemical activity
to let these individuals concentrate of focus.
3. Treatment of ADHD
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are effective treatments available. The
most common used medication for school-aged children is Ritalin. Ritalin is a
mild central nervous system stimulant. It is not recommended for children
under six years of age, and is to initiated in small doses. Dosages must be
individualized depending on the child’s age, weight, and individual response.
It last for 3-4 hours. Some of the benefits of Ritalin include improving the
child’s attention span, helping them to focus, calming them down, reducing
impulsivity, and allowing them to play better with other children. Some
common side effects include reduced appetite, headache, stomachache,
irritability, and sadness. In between doses, children may experience the
"rebound effect", which occurs when the medication begins to wear off and
symptoms begin to recur before it is time for the next dosage. It is advised
that children take "drug holidays’ or a break from the medication, on the
weekends off when the child is not in a structured setting.
4. The Controversy
One of the biggest controversies regarding ADHD
in children is this common use of stimulants. Are we drugging America’s children? Is Ritalin too commonly abused in children? Can treating a child with
Ritalin do more harm than good? Do parents and teachers benefit more than the
5. Benefits of Ritalin
Ritalin is useful when it is prescribed in its
proper context, initiated in small doses, and monitored appropriately. It has
been shown to be beneficial in treating the symptoms of ADHD in about 80% of
children .If taken in regular release form, which is three times a day for
seven days a week. It has been shown to improve their social skills and their
ability to play and get along with others their age. Teachers will also
benefit from a calmer, easier to control classroom, where there are less
distractions in learning. The biggest benefits seem to be decreased
distractibility, decreased hyperactivity, decreases aggression, increases
ability to follow directions, increases ability to finish tasks, increases
legibility of handwriting, allows the child to think before he/she speaks.
These all seem to be some very good benefits but there are also many cons
that have many American’s worried.
6.Cons of Ritalin
Ritalin use is questioned because its mode of
action is not completely understood in humans, and there is lack of research
in its long-term use in children. In some studies that have been done there
have been cases of growth suppression, seizures, strokes, and tics. The
short-term common side effects have also been noted such as insomnia, nausea,
and decreased appetite. Also the fact that most school aged children will
have to take a dose during school hours. These children that need to take
their medicine must leave the class and go see the nurse. They may be
stigmatized by other children in the classroom, which can effect the child’s
self-esteem, or may lead the child to skip on his medication. The nature of
our culture is to find the quick fix. Some say that medicating children with
ADHD supports our lack of attention to children’s needs. It does show that
Ritalin may be needed and effective in severe cases of ADHD, but that it is
highly over prescribed to our children. Due to the technological advances,
computer use, television, and video games, the physical activity in children
as decreased. This activity that children are losing needs to be compensated
in some way. If this is restricted, it could lead to attitude, behavior, and
educational problems. There is also a concern with how we are teaching our
children to say no to drugs, but at the same time showing them that its ok to
say yes to Ritalin which is a drug considered in the same category as
cocaine. We are giving children the message that drugs are the answer to
emotional problems. Ritalin is currently considered a Schedule 2 drug by the
DEA. For a drug to be considered a controlled substance, it must have the
potential for abuse and or addiction. On the street Ritalin can be purchased
under the street names of "vitamin R", "R-ball", and Kiddie cocaine" or the
smart drug. It is being liquefied to be injected and crushed to be snorted
for a high, which is more dangerous and addictive that taking the drug in
pill form. The DEA has attributed several deaths to Ritalin abuse.
There needs to be more research done about ADHD and the drug Ritalin. It
seems hard to understand how it could be prescribed so freely when there are
still many unknowns and questions left unanswered in this area.