Medicating Children [Essay]

Based on a paper titled “Medicating Children” by Misty Smith. Originally published for PSY 230 at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education.

“Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents” (Hardman, p. 389). Symptoms of ADHD include lack of attention or focus, increased activity, and unwelcome behavior. Children who are diagnosed with ADHD are recommended for medication to alter their behavior.

 

Medicating Children

 

“Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents” (Hardman, p. 389). Symptoms of ADHD include lack of attention or focus, increased activity, and unwelcome behavior. Children who are diagnosed with ADHD are recommended for medication to alter their behavior. The United States of America leads the world in the sheer number of children who are not only diagnosed but treated with medication (Frontline, 2001). However, there is no set standard of official conclusive means of reaching a diagnosis of ADHD which leaves numerous groups to question the validity of using psychotropic medications in the children who have received the medication determination of ADHD.

On the opposing side of using psychotropic medications in children are groups such as The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), founded by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. CCHR argues that diagnosis of ADHD, and psychological disorders as a whole, are nothing more than a farce created by pharmaceutical companies in order to create profits. According to Citizens Commission on Human Rights (2017), “This is not to say that people do not get depressed, or that people can’t experience emotional or mental duress, but psychiatry has repackaged these emotions and behaviors as “disease” in order to sell drugs”. It is the opinion of this student that groups such as these spread sparks of doubt within society and can place individuals who need mental health care in severe jeopardy.

It is a fact that the sheer number of children being diagnosed with ADHD and similar disorders have skyrocketed to epic proportions over the past few decades. This increase in numbers cannot be attributed to new scientific methods of diagnoses, but to that of groups such as Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and the pharmaceutical companies who produce the medications being prescribed. CHADD, a group who receives a portion of funding from pharmaceutical companies, was one of the groups who lobbied Congress in the 1990s to get Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder recognized under the American with Disabilities Act. “Today, children with ADHD are eligible for special education services or accommodations within the regular classroom when needed, and adults with ADHD may be eligible for accommodations in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act” (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, 2017). As a result of ADHD being recognized and additional accommodations were given, the numbers of children being given ADHD status increased dramatically in the United States, “…affecting up to nine percent of all children, and approximately four percent of adults” (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, 2017).

In a video by Frontline, Medicating Kids, cases of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and given medication are featured. In the first case, the little boy shows a very vibrant, non-aggressive and very curious personality. However, after watching the interaction in the video of the parent with the child, I have some doubts about the child’s status. For example, there was zero evidence that the parents were attempting to correct the behavior of their child; instead, they just looked on as he ‘acted up’. In the case of the little girl named Noel, I cannot reach a definite opinion as it seems the child could be helped by extra tutoring (by finding a learning style she is more attune with), instead of medication. As for the case of Alex, I am in complete agreement that the child will benefit greatly from a combination of medications and mental health treatments.

It is my opinion that the scientific community needs to come up with a better way of diagnosing if a child is really suffering from ADHD or is just expressing themselves. Not every child who has been given the ADHD diagnoses, as it currently stands, can be proven to actually have the condition. Therefore, instead of listening directly to lobbying by pharmaceutical companies who benefit from the sales of medications, or to groups who do not wish to believe in mental illness in any form, nonpartisan scientific groups and panels need to concentrate on formulating foolproof methods of diagnosing individuals/children who are suffering from disorders such as ADHD.

 

References

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (2017). CHADD. Retrieved from http://www.chadd.org/About-CHADD/Mission-and-History.aspx

Citizens Commission on Human Rights. (2017). Quick Facts About Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.cchr.org/quick-facts/introduction.html

Frontline. (2001, April 10). Medicating Kids [Video file]. Retrieved from PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/medicating/watch/

Hardman, M.L. (2016). Human Exceptionality: School, Community, and Family (12th ed.). Retrieved from Cengage Learning.




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