Ritalin and Children


The natural tendencies observed in children makes them often to be interested in different things, prone to have instant curiosity and interest to different phenomena around them and even refuse to stop the activities they are engrossed in. These tendencies have been categorized into levels of symptoms that have called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). They are usually particular behaviors that either teachers or certain parents cannot deal with efficiently. It has led to many drug companies profiting from this so called “mental disorder” with proposed “objective studies” being analyzed in the background.

Ritalin and children

Ritalin is prescribed and administered to numerous children worldwide with the amount growing. This rise has been contributed by the fact psychiatrists are convincing the greater part of the public that closely twenty percent of their children are “mentally ill” and require the drugs to heal their “brain imbalances”. It is a wrong presumption that some children are exceedingly hard to monitor or control, distractible, disruptive or impulsive in their nature (Kirkey, 2001). These kind of situations exist in everyday life at the center of growing children and the error is made when the guardians believe that the behaviors exhibited by their children are due to some kind of mental disorder that can be resolved with drugs. Evidence has shown that some of these undesirable behaviors are traced to boring classes at school, energy and natural child tendencies, alternate learning methods used by children, poor home environment and parenting, allergies and faulty diets. Much can be done to address this situation in life at any point by taking responsibility for the different aspects of life that are challenging that may decisively resolve apparent problems like ADD or learning disabled(LD) (Chrisholm, 1996). It is an invalid assumption to associate these behaviors, which are normal for a growing child, with falsehood “disease” like arthritis and any other. Ritalin is a class 2 narcotic with a chemical composition that is very addictive and has severe withdrawal symptoms and many undesirable

Ritalin and Children

side effects which can be permanent in some cases. The drug is classified to be among the same family as cocaine. Some of these effects are mainly loss of appetite, nervousness and insomnia.

The question arises what would be the long term effects that these children might face. Research has pointed out that this attention deficiency is due to structural differences in the children’s brain suffering from ADD. This evidence has been obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning from boys with the condition. The scans revealed that the boys with ADD had more symmetrical and smaller small structures in the right hemisphere of the brain. The belief translates to that inhibitory operations of the brain are likely affected which results to the inability to inhibit thought and actions. When a child is labeled with having a psychiatric illness usually has an overwhelming effect and blow according to the different views other people will treat her or him. It degrades the child and makes him a “junkie” by constantly drugging him with no alternative to the solving the problem. This dilemma robs the child’s responsibility and undermines him that it’s the fault of the brain that is forcing him to take the drugs. Eventually the child will succumb by accepting the disability and treatment care which submerges whatever will to fight the disorder or uncover the actual cause of the problem through denial.

There has been a lot of controversy with the rise in past years over the high rate of prescription of Ritalin for treatment of ADD children. Questions have arisen whether physicians are incorrectly diagnosing the problem or parents are just looking a quick alternative to fix behaviors in their children which deem undesirable. This trend has caused jitters and alarms to the majority of the public including health officials and also doctors. Individuals suffering from this disorder of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity have difficulty focusing their concentration on something. They do not usually have any physical problems, but they encounter many emotional and social difficulties primarily because their guardians or the society have different views about them. These individuals face challenges in childhood in their educational performance and also later in life when they join the workforce (Mercogliano, 2003).

Diagnosing ADD is very difficult and has to be made cautiously. The American Psychiatric Association list fourteen signs and of which eight are primary manifestations that would indicate that an individual is suffering from the disorder. These signs include; difficulty following directions, talking excessively, difficulty playing quietly, forgetfulness, interrupting others,

Ritalin and Children

difficulty paying attention, fidgeting with feet and hands, being involved in physically dangerous activities, difficulty remaining seated, never listening to what is said, skipping from one unfinished task to another and cannot for turns in particular activities. Although the working mechanisms of Ritalin are not known, it has a calming effect temporarily. Health officials put claims that using Ritalin is not a danger, bur long term effects of the drug on children is yet to be determined. Children below the age of six years have also been prescribed with the drug which has been alarming to the general public. At that young age it is even more difficult to determine actually whether the child is affected with ADD. The child can exhibit symptoms but could not be suffering from or having the disorder. The effects of Ritalin at such young age and how harmful it can be to the child’s health is yet to be established. The symptoms describing the disorder can be seen as rather vague or broad to actually cause manifestations in the children themselves. There is a wide possibility that many children are improperly diagnosed to having ADD which puts them at risk of their health when put under medication. Therefore, a more strict set of symptoms have to to be identified and defined to avoid the situation of making wrong diagnosis of ADD in children.


There is proof that the drug has the same effect on a healthy person without the “illness” and that psychiatrists understand little on how the drug functions. Psychiatrists have found out that Ritalin increased the risk of stunted growth in children .Whatever is behind the idea that behaviors in children are associated with the “mental illness” is not standing and the drug is not a cure. Other individuals have been abusing the drug with consumption without prescription or actually exhibiting the symptoms or the disorder. The prescription of the drug is not really out of any apprehension for the health of children. Parental guidance to maintaining a proper everyday life for their children is vital to nurture the growth and development of the child.


Ritalin and Children

Chrisholm, P. (1996). “The ADD dilemna”. Maclean’s.

Kirkey, S. (2001). “Jury’s still out on Ritalin”. The Gazette.

Mercogliano, C. (2003). Teaching the restless: One school’s remarkable no-Ritalin approach to helping children learn and succeed. Beacon Press. Boston.