Libby Purves in the Times yesterday was saying how the diagnoses of ADHD in school children has rocketed, and with them the use of Ritalin (methylphenidate). What started in the US in the 1960’s has risen in this country from 3,500 prescriptions in 1993 to over 610,000 two years ago.

Libby Purves includes a checklist in her article of symptoms of ADHD and of its sibling ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These include: short attention span, carelessness, forgetfulness, being unable to stick at tasks that are tedious or time consuming, ignoring rules and instructions, unwillingness to sit still, fidgeting, impulsiveness, interrupting conversations and having too little sense of danger.

She goes on to say that “Boys are diagnosed most, but the NHS website suggests they’re closing in on girls too, with the mainly inattentive form of the condition, which may make them quiet and dreamy. Don’t look out of the window or doodle hearts, Suzie or they’ll get you with the chemical cosh”

This unease about the wide acceptance of the drug solution to this problem is something Sir Ken Robinson highlighted in a talk he gave at the London Business Forum a couple of years ago and it’s been something which has concerned me for a long time too.

I’m not saying that there is no such thing as ADD, ADHD or ODD I’m saying that some children are misdiagnosed. Reading the above checklist you could be describing someone who is a strong R1 or very right brain dominated in their thinking. Sir Ken Robinson writes in his book ‘The Element’ about Gillian Lynne who helped create some of the most successful musical theatre productions in history, Cats and Phantom of the opera. Gillian describes how when she is taken to a dance school for the first time “I walked in to this room, and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think” Sir Ken says “I think now they’d say she had ADHD and they’d put her on Ritalin or something similar. But the ADHD epidemic hadn’t been invented at the time. It wasn’t an available condition. People had to get by without it.”

Again in Libby Purves article “Professor Tim Kendall who chaired the NICE guideline committee cites “reliable reports of children in nursery being medicated” He went onto say that “There are two reasons why parents go shopping for a diagnosis. The first is to improve their child’s performance at school, and the second is to get access to benefits”

A few years ago I walked into my local bank and I got talking to the foreign exchange banker who was helping me send some money abroad. I told him about NBI brain profile and I predicted he was an L1 R1, a cerebral thinker and I described what that meant. He confirmed I was correct and wanted to know how I could read him so well. I explained that he was fiddling with his pen continuously, tapping his foot, he was easily distracted, had made a mistake on the form but was obviously good at Maths because he was working in a bank all these pointed towards a strong L1 R1 thinker. He then went onto explain how he had been put on Ritalin while he was at secondary school as his parents wanted him to get good GCSE’s.   Once he had got through school he came off the drug. If he had really been ADD, ADHD or ODD he would still be on the drug surely.

This isnt the only story I have personally heard and it’s the reason I am passionate about getting the NBI Brain profile into more schools.

Let’s get more parents understanding their children better rather than putting them on medication.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 11:17 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Ritalin…killing our childrens creativity?”

  1. stephen macsweeney says:

    I mentor a 12 yo boy who has been diagnosed suffering from ADHD/ Asbergers. He’s just a normal kid with spirit and enthusiasm. He is from a family of 11, so attention is in short supply. Benefits are not however. If he ever has any doubts about his disposition, he is reminded by members of the family, [ father included ], that he is a ‘freak’, kids at school are also aware, so you can imagine what that can be like. He carries these labels like a cross, hates to talk about it, hates taking ritalin which acts as a 2x daily reminder, and hates the fact that his mother draws £6.00 a week for his ‘mental disability’.
    His parents insist that he remains on the drugs. Over the last 4 months that I’ve known him, I’ve found him to be a super guy, responsive to encouragement and appreciation, but very clearly damaged by the label and its effects.
    The damage far outways any benefits!

    • Neil France says:

      Oh bless him Stephen thank goodness he has you as a mentor. The day I wrote the piece I bumped into a mum of one of my son, Christian’s friends and of course I asked about the children. Her husband left her a few years ago and she has found it difficult to cope with 3 children. The eldest in particular has been rebellious but I felt he was just angry with his Dad leaving. Well he has been put on ritalin and surprise surprise he is fine now. She told me he wakes up and is awful but takes his drug and is fine but surely it cant work that quick? I have no idea but even paracetamol take a while to work. How many more children are on the drug when all they need is someone to understand them better. Thanks for responding. Have you see Sir Ken on http://www.ted.com? Brilliant!

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