His name is Jerome Kagan. He’s a Harvard researcher and he’s worried about the way schools and pediatricians handle children who are bored with school, who are lazy, or who are simply too energetic for their teachers.
When teachers have a problem with a child in their classroom, instead of working with parents, the school often requests the child be seen by a pediatrician. And then the pediatrician is usually going to prescribe Ritalin.
Ritalin is a powerful drug meant to treat a problem with the body’s dopamine metabolism. Nine out ten of the children on this drug don’t have a dopamine problem. Kagan describes the problem like this: “If a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis…”
Being unnecessarily treated with Ritalin can have far-reaching consequences. And these children are being told that they have a mental illness, that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way their minds work.
In most cases, these are normal, healthy children who need adults to work with them to motivate them and challenge them.
If your child or grandchild has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder, don’t be afraid to push back. Ask for a second opinion. Ask about non-drug treatments you can try first. And talk to your child’s teachers about what you can do at home to help your student do better in class.
Most importantly, make sure you fully understand the potential side effects of Ritalin before you agree to accepts its prescription for your child.