Posted by Wanda
on November 16, 1999 at 13:44:45:
Right now, the most important thing you can do for your child is to EDUCATE yourself. Fortunately, it is fairly easy on the internet. A great deal of information is out there for you to make use of.
I have a 6 year old son who was diagnosed by his 1st grade teacher as ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). I have spent a great deal of time researching both ADD/ADHD and the effects and usage of Ritalin (also used: Adderall, Cylert, the generic dextroamphetamine and the generic methylphenidate). I will try to give you the basic facts concerning what I have learned.
First, begin by understanding that all children are different individuals. Just as you will see certain adults that seem more energetic than others, you will see varying degrees of activity in children, even within the same family. You stated that your son is much more active than your daughters were. However, in general young boys ARE normally more active than young girls.
Children should be active, outgoing, imaginative, and curious. In every classroom situation, there are usually one or two children who strive to be the center of attention. Is this a sign of ADD or merely precocious leadership abilities?
By searching the internet for answers, you will undoubtedly find the following information, as I have:
1. Although ADD is widely recognised, there is NO medical proof of any abnormality or "chemical imbalance" in the brain leading to ADD behaviors.
2. As teacher's hands are increasingly tied as far as disciplining children, and classroom size continues to grow, teachers and schools are under great pressure to make sure that students are compliant and conform to sitting still, not fidgeting, staying quiet and attentive. However, a bright child that has lost interest in what he considers to be a boring lesson almost always going to fidget, squirm, talk and get up from his chair.
3. The foremost treatment for ADD in the United States today is medication with one of the drugs listed above. This is a "quick fix" to disruptive classroom behavior.
The questions you MUST research and resolve in yourself are these: Does my child have a "disorder" that medical science and psychologists are unable to prove even exists? If so, am I willing to medicate these "symptoms" out of my child? If I medicate these symptoms out of my child, what long term effects will it have on a young child's growing, developing body?
Initially, TRUST NO ONE. My pediatrician took a letter from my sons teacher and gave me a prescription for Ritalin without ever testing my son (i.e., psychologically, bloodwork, etc.) Had I merely trusted her judgement and the judgement of his teachers, he would now be taking a Class II Amphetamine Narcotic twice daily. In addition, I have learned that one of the side effects of Ritalin is stomach pain. My son was diagnosed with acid reflux and an ulcer at age 2. He currently in under control, taking Zantac daily. (Prescribed by the same pediatrician that prescribed the Ritalin without any mention of the stomach pain side effect.) Fortunately, I and my husband sought more information.
What I am about to tell you about Ritalin and its counterpart medications listed above is backed up by medical doctors, psychiatrists, the FDA, the DEA and the manufacturers of ritalin. To research what I am about to tell you, go to a search engine and type ritalin.
Ritalin has been around since the mid-50's, but after the deformities of the thalidamide babies and the bad press caused by many women's addiction to amphetamines ("speed") as diet aids, these drugs were no longer freely prescribed.
In the mid 70's, some child neurologists experimented with amphetimines and noticed a marked improvement in hyperactive children as far as being calmer and having a longer, more focused attention span. They realized the bad image associated with the types of amphetamines that had been used in the 50's, so settled on Ritalin, which had not been widely prescribed.
In 1987, a non-profit organization called CHADD (Children and Parents of AD(H)D)was organized. It is a non-profit, nationwide organization that bills itself as a "parent-driven, grass roots" support group.
CHADD petitioned the NIMH (National Mental Health) for recognition of ADD as an "brain disorder." This recognition was given based on the SYMPTOMS listed as indicative of this "disorder", without any medical proof or psychological criteria for diagnosing this "disorder."
CHADD was, and continues to be a proponent of medication for the treatment of ADD/ADHD. At various times during the 80's and 90's CHADD has petitioned the DEA to allow increased production of Ritalin, since it is strictly controlled by Class II narcotic requirements. CHADD also petitioned the FDA to reclassify Ritalin as a Class III drug, which categorizes such drugs as percodan, vicodin, hydrocodones, codiene and valium. This was turned down. CHADD developed a 30 minute video praising the effectiveness of Ritalin, relying heavily on the personal testimonies of 6 parents that were extremely pleased with the results achieved by medicating their children. This video is distributed to schools through the National Board of Educators.
What came to light in the mid 90's is shocking. During the petition to the FDA to reclassify Ritalin as a Class III drug, examination of CHADD's financial records revealed that a major financial contributor to the founding and continued growth of CHADD was none other than Ciba-Geigy -- the manufacturer of Ritalin. Ciba-Geigy has pumped over one million dollars into CHADD over the past 10 years!
So, in summary, the organization that "invented" ADD/ADHD and loudly proclaims the amazing powers of Ritalin was financed in part and supported by the very manufacturer that stood to gain enormous profits from the sale of Ritalin. In addition, in the 30 minute video praising the use of Ritalin, produced by CHADD, secretly backed by Ciba-Giegy, distributed by the National Board of Educators -- 5 of the 6 parents shown were on the board of directors of CHADD. They were listed only as parents of ADD/ADHD children!
So, as the numbers continue to mount, Ciba-Geigy (now known as Novartis) continues to rake in the profits. In the United States it is estimated that over 13.2 million prescriptions for Ritalin were written last year alone. Best estimates of the number of school children (mostly boys, ages 6-11) currently taking ritalin are 10-15% of all school children.
Sure sounds like we have an epidemic on our hands, right? Interestingly enough, however, while 10-15% of US school children take Ritalin or a similar medication, less than 1% take these medications in Europe, China and Japan. Ritalin has been outlawed in Sweden since 1968. Over 90% of the Ritalin manufactured in the ENTIRE WORLD is consumed in the United States. How could it be possible that only American boys, ages 6-11 have a neurological "brain disorder" that does not afflict other boys ages 6-11 in the world?
Obviously there is a motive for the "pushing" of Ritalin on our children. I don't think this is some communistic or Columbian plot to control America, I think it is a Ciba-Geigy plot to fatten their corporate wallets. Drug pushers all work for money, some of them just go to work with briefcases in corporate offices.
Also in your research you wil find the 14-point checklist covering the "warning signs" of ADD/ADHD. These are listed as :
1.Squirming and fidgeting with hands or feet
2.Difficulty remaining seated when required
4.Difficulty waiting in turn in games or groups
5.Blurts out answers to questions
6.Difficulty following through on instructions from others (failure to finish chores)
7.Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play
8.Often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
9.Difficulty playing quietly
11.Often interrupts or intrudes ("butting in")
12.Often does not seem to listen to what is being said to him/her.
13.Often loses things necessary for tasks (i.e. pencils, books, toys)
14.Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences (i.e. running out in the street without looking)
Study those criteria. In order to be labeled "ADD/ADHD" you child must meet only 8 of the 14 criteria. I ask you how many 6-11 year old children could possibly pass this test? OF COURSE, young children meet this criteria. That is why we RAISE our children instead of sending them out into the world on their own. These so-called symptoms of ADD/ADHD are NORMAL childhood behavior that appears in varying degrees in every child.
Incidentally, the widely accepted 14 criteria above were developed and presented to the DSM-III-R board by CHADD, funded by Ciba-Geigy.
I know I have written a great deal of information and there's more, much more. Perhaps you are beginning to understand how important it is to check, recheck and research before you make a decision regarding your precious child. Once the decision is made to label your child ADD/ADHD, understand that the label will follow him throughout his school years and in fact throughout his life.
If the decision is made to medicate your child, you immediately make him/her ineligible for military service, piloting, astronaut and a host of other occupations.
And what are the facts concerning this "magical" medication which is touted as having such a profound effect in calming and focusing the ADD/ADHD child?
The “magical” medication is known by several names listed above, but I will use the term Ritalin, since all the medications are of highly similar composition and produce similar effects -- and side effects. In addition, Ritalin is by far the most common medication prescribed, since CHADD has fought and won through HMO's and insurance companies for the right to insist on Ritalin instead of generics or substitutions, claiming that it simply "works better" based on testimony from parents.
What is Ritalin? Ritalin is speed. It is an amphetamine which has a stimulant effect on the brain. Most information out there will say that we "really don't know why and how it works." How can that be?
Ritalin's closest cousin in the drug world is cocaine. Many, many studies have been done one how cocaine effects the body and brain. Ritalin and cocaine both have the effect of focusing and energizing the person taking them. People taking cocaine feel "sharp, focused, and alert". So do people taking Ritalin, regardless of whether the person "has ADD/ADHD" or not. Medical research indicates that ANYONE taking amphetamines will have a "better performance." So, what's the big deal, you say? Sounds good on the surface, right. So why SHOULDN’T we all use these drugs to improve "performance."
Unfortunately, two things about this type of drug become readily apparent. A person continuing to take amphetamines or cocaine becomes addicted to them. The body (brain) becomes accustomed to the drug, requiring more and larger doses to achieve the same feeling. Eventually, a certain amount is REQUIRED by the brain just to keep from feeling "bad".
Repeatedly in the ADD/ADHD information, I found evidence from parents that they say they KNOW Ritalin works because they can SEE a difference in their child's behaviour. Of course they can! They would also expect, I am sure, to see a difference in their 6 year old's behaviour if they allowed him/her to snort cocaine!
But what is that difference? the FDA states in its ruling to deny reclassification of Ritalin to a class III drug that they have see NO evidence of short term OR long term benefits to the children from this drug. Yes, the children are "calmer", yes, they are "more compliant" and better behaved. They APPEAR to be attentive. However, statistically, only their classroom BEHAVIOR improves, not their grades, learning or retention.
So many times I have read of parents stating that their child isn't doing well in school, in spite of the fact that they are taking their medication. But, they say, it's just harder for a child with ADD/ADHD and they hate to see their child struggle, but the child is even WORSE when taken off the medication so they are afraid of how much worse the child might do if the child were not medicated. Unfortunately, what these parents fail to see is that their child is ADDICTED to amphetamines and if the medication their body craves is not given, their child is suffering from withdrawal.
In fact, Ciba-Geigy's filing of product information with the FDA warns of the possibility of suicide by the patient if the medication is abruptly withdrawn.
Other possible side effects of Ritalin are:
PERMANENT disfiguring facial tics
Stunted growth (in children, remember that their brain is also growing and can be stunted)
Lack of appetite (this is after all, speed!)
Research into adults with ADD/ADHD treated with Ritalin indicates a link between Ritalin and atrophy or shrinking of the brain.
Ritalin has replaced cocaine in the high schools of our nation as the drug of choice. A grave danger of this is that since someone's younger brother was prescribed this medication by a doctor, the teens feel that it can't possibly be dangerous to them. However, in their search for a "high", teens often crush and snort Ritalin. When snort (or sometimes injected) Ritalin is in fact STRONGER AND MORE POWERFUL THAN COCAINE.
In Roanoke, Virginia this summer, one teenager died from snorting Ritalin. In Texas, emergency room visits from abuse of Ritalin in teenagers outnumber cocaine abuse visits.
Ciba-Geigy states that "no information regarding long term effects of use of Ritalin is available." Why not? It has been given to children in increasing numbers since 1985! Fifteen years seems like long enough to come up with some information.
My mother is a teacher in Arizona and told me just this morning that in a meeting with the special education coordinator for their school district, they were told to carefully consider their recommendations to evaluate ADD/ADHD children, cautioning them that statistics are showing that children that were medicated with Ritalin have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher rate of drug use in later years than their un-medicated peers.
I know this is a lot of information to absorb at one time. Don't take it or any other advice at face value. Read, research and check the facts I have listed here. Make your decision and be strong and convicted of the right and reasons for your decision.
If Ritalin had been around for Gallileo, Einstein, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates, they would almost certainly have met the 14-point checklist criteria. If we had lost even one of them to drug addiction, how different might our lives be? One site I visited said something that has stuck in my mind -- "Wild colts make the best horses."
Cherish those sparks of intelligence and curiousity in our children! We used to call such children "live-wires" or "precocious". When and why did that become a disability?