Just Say No to Ritalin
(or, “Think Before you Drug”)
A page on hyperactivity in children
More and more children are being labeled “hyperactive” or “ADD”. As parent’s patience wears thin, they become exasperated by their child who won’t pay attention, can’t keep still or is prone to outbursts of uncontrollable energy. Teachers may suggest your child see a doctor as he won’t listen in class or is disruptive. Yes, the quick fix maybe to drug these children and offer some relief to the adults, but I believe the underlieing cause in many of these cases is quite simply “over-stimulation”. On many levels our children are over-stimulated from birth and on a daily basis.
I recall a story an author shared with an audience…..
She was visiting a family at their home for dinner. While the meal was cooking, the mother offered to show her around the house. Our author said she remarked on all the beautiful furnishings the family had, lovely wood furniture, delicate shades painting light in the rooms and soft accents of curtains and furnishings.
Then, she was shown the children’s room………..”wow ! ” she said, “it was like Las Vegas in there ! “.
Brightly coloured contrasting plastic toys and furniture, it felt like an assault on the senses after the tranquility of the rest of this beautiful home.
She asked why, do we think our children won’t appreciate the more natural and subdued environment we create for ourselves?
Following is an article I found in “New Life” magazine, an anthroposophical journal.
by Gabriel Bradford Millar
– The assumption that we have found the chemical answer, and it’s widespread application, can have unforeseen unsavoury consequences. If we use our children as guinea pigs, we may rue it. We have seen it happen with women: thalidomide, the Pill. And some of the side-effects of the drugs vs the hyperactivity and the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are already known: Ritalin – tics and irritability, Pemoline – liver damage, Tofranil – irregular heart rate and blood count. Is it really acceptable to tinker with the delicate mechanisms in our children’s bodies just as these rhythms are establishing themselves?
– To assume that a brain dysfunction is the absolute cause of hyperactivity and ADD, and that this dysfunction is caused by an insufficient amount of dopamine in the frontal lobe, is not only flagrant materialistic and reductionist thinking, it is pandering to that part of us parents et al. that is too busy or self-absorbed to imagine that we may have some responsibility for this condition, and it’s remedy. Dosing children up for years with harmful drugs to keep them quiet comes perilously close to the totalitarian measures of the former Soviets who dealt this way with dissidents who disrupted the regime.
– The energies of children need creative, or at least constructive, outlet, not suppression, and this means time, one to one focus, commitment, imagination and real love from the adults around them. We can do things with them rather than keeping them quiet with plug-in drugs like television and computer games that give them a wallop of unnatural sensory overload. We can hike, bake, play, look after animals with them, let them physically work of their surplus energy.
– Many children rate low in an IQ test because it tests only the rational intellect and their intelligence may be more metabolic, a craftsman’s talent. If they were given more chance to work with their hands, to make things, they would be more fulfilled and less fidgety. The symptom “often has difficulty organising tasks….” refers to the intellect which, in any case is not normally that keenly developed in a child under seven.
– And the fact that most children (and adults) eat devitalised food is a serious factor. Lack of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B, can lead to nervous agitation. This is then aggravated by sugar snacks, leading to the symptom “often ‘on the go’, or often acts as if ‘driven by a motor’.” We have all seen children racing around, as though motor-driven, after a sugar binge. The problem is that in our culture, they on a more or less constant sugar buzz.
– Ours is the first culture, the first time in history, that children get so bombarded they go numb at the sensorial and emotional levels, needing more and more stimuli, a scene that leads inevitably to hyperactivity and a short attention span. In the US by the time a child is five, he has seen 20,000 murders on celluloid. He simply cannot digest them, and his hyper state is his instinctive response to being offered stones instead of bread. His response to the lack of vision and information overload at school, and celluloid “baby-sitters” at home.
– Children need warmer, more intelligent mother and fathering, less overload of information and violence, creative activity and nourishing food if they are to grow into strong, ethical, centred individuals. When these things are offered, they will manifest their relief of being really seen and understood, and the Earth will be a more peaceful place.
There is a lot of information available about the harmful effects of TV. The constant changing of imagery, especially in children’s programming, interferes with the normal physical connections the brain is making in the young child. It would seem obvious that this would be a major factor of hyperactivity ! The TV conditioned brain is used to processing fast-paced changes of imagery, so how does the brain cope when at school and required to focus on one or two things for a period of time?