As many as five million youngsters, or about 7% of school children, have been diagnosed with attention difficulties (ADD or ADHD). School is harder for them, not because of mental shortcomings, but because it is tough to sit quietly and pay attention. This, in turn, causes problems for their teachers and parents.
Stimulant drugs to help these kids focus better have gained tremendously in popularity over the last several decades. Methylphenidate (Metadate, Ritalin) is possibly the best known, but there are many others. Evaluating the long-term risks and benefits of such medications has become an emotionally laden topic. Some people are quite concerned about long-term effects and warn against their use, while others are convinced that children should not be deprived of these medicines. Our guests offer differing perspectives on this question.
Guests: Alan Sroufe, PhD, is professor emeritus of child psychology in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. His article, Ritalin Gone Wrong, was published in The New York Times.
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD, is a child and adult psychiatrist and the founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA and New York City. He is the author of Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction, and 16 other books. The website is www.drhallowell.com/ The photo is of Dr. Hallowell.
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