Channel 4 are currently doing documentary about whether a child’s naughty behaviour is just misbehaving or they are born naughty. Many disorders are mentioned in this series with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism being the main areas explored. ADHD is particularly controversial due to the difficulty in uncovering the true cause of these behaviours arising. It is important to understand whether the struggling parents have children with an underlying problem or whether the children just need more discipline. The controversy arises as symptoms are very hard to detect as underlying from biological causes or just parents needing to initaiate harsher parenting. This is a hard topic as parents are very reluctant to think of their children’s problems as a result of their parent technique – if it works with one child why shouldn’t it with another. The answer lies in this statement, every child is different and therefore needs different techniques to show them how to behave properly.
ADHD is a common disorder with 1 in 20 children being diagnosed symptoms involve short attention span, hyperactivity, problems with sleep and impulsive behaviour. ADHD is treated by Ritalin, a drug that reduces the hyperactivity to make it more manageable for the child to handle the outbursts. Also this helps parents and teachers to better handle these children in a large classroom. Without these drugs and even in some severe cases the children will have to be taken out of mainstream schooling as the problems to difficult to handle in a classroom with 30 other children needing attention.
It is important to know the distinction between the causes of hyperactive behaviour so that children aren’t mis-labelled with ADHD as this could potentially end with children being put on Ritalin medication unnecessarily. Misdiagnosing the cause can induce side effects but more importantly can be detrimental to a child’s self esteem. If children are put on medication for a problem that could be solved through different parenting methods they could start believing that they have deeper problems than they actually do. Furthermore with such a stigma held around these disorders a wrong diagnosis may induce labelling by friends and teachers. One common label for these children is ‘problem child’ this type of label can initiate perceived bad behaviour in this child as this is what is expected whether they have ADHD or not. Side effects for misuse of this drug can be severe such as giving a euphoric high making the hyperactive behaviours even worse – without the label of ADHD these could have been treated through a regime of different parenting techniques.
In light of these detrimental effects from a wrong disgnoses I feel that ADHD is to harshly treated. We know that Ritalin works but is there a more subtle and less invasive treatment so as to not alienate the children and to avoid misdiagnosis and the consequences that go with that. Giving this treatment to children of 5+ years seems very young to give a life of tablets and checkups. What if more subtle regimes that haven’t been tested due to Ritalin being so effective actually work. I feel these other treatments are much more valuable if they can allow children to behave better without giving them a harming label.