Laws are now being passed that would restrict school teachers and other administrators from recommending that children take these medications who are showing behavior of ADD and ADHD. There have been cases in which teachers refused to teach children who were not medicated which then put pressure on parents to give the medications and if they chose not to were then being threatened by the social services. It has been estimated that 4-6 million children are now taking these medications.
There is no doubt that many children and some adults show symptoms similar to what has been classified as ADHD. However, the controversy lies more in how to deal with this situation. It is true that a number of years ago, some children may have been classified as just being "difficult" and were labeled as troublemakers and punished. Today there is a greater recognition that something is not right and that children are not able to modify their behavior easily. However, the tendency to want to immediately medicate children is a major issue as evidence shows that long term and short-term medication with Ritalin and similar medications as well as the growing tendency to prescribe anti-depressants to children can cause serious side effects, which can affect a person for many years.
Schools have been given forms to allow children to be evaluated for symptoms of ADHD, which include blurting out answers, fidgeting and squirming in the seat and not seeming to listen. These kinds of behaviors seem to improve on medications, being used to justify their use. What is not often mentioned is that these children are dulled and inhibited from their natural state, being suppressed in their actions. Whilst teachers may find this acceptable when faced with disciplining a class of children, the consequences of this for the children have to be considered. There is no evidence that these medications improve academic standards, only that they make children easier to control.
Furthermore, there has not been enough research into potential causes of ADD behavior. Children are generally the most sensitive people in our society and they are therefore vulnerable to much of what goes on in our lives. The stimulation of children's brains at an early age with things such as TV, video and computer games is one factor that has to be looked at in the growing incidence of ADD. Children's brains are very delicate and as a child grows from birth, it is important that the child gets the right kind of input at the right time. There is such a growing tendency to put small children in front of the TV for long periods and also to give children over intellectualized stimulation that it may create an over stimulated brain and later manifest as behavioral difficulties and learning problems. This issue is compounded in most schools that also tend to force an intellectualized form of learning on small children at inappropriate ages. Another factor to consider is the type of food taken in. So much commercial food is full of additives, preservatives, pesticide residues etc that this may also create an over stimulated state in children, not to mention the amount of sugar found in many commercial foods and drinks.
It is also a factor that many children can be diagnosed as ADD or hyperactive when in fact they are just bored. For many children, school can be stultifying and not offer the kind of stimulus needed and they therefore react to this by behaving badly. Being labeled as ADD does not do justice to the situation and unfairly stigmatizes a child. Often, these children may be some of the brightest children who need specific types of stimulation to keep them occupied.
One of the main distinctions to be made is whether the symptoms expressed are primarily emotional or whether there is a physiological component to it. The difference may be an important one in understanding what to do. Sometimes it may not be possible to make a clear distinction between the two and in fact it can often be a combination of both factors. It may be that some children are just acting out due to family stress at home, which is primarily an emotional factor. In other cases it is apparent that something was not right shortly after birth, perhaps with some physical expressions such as trembling, twitching or other neurological symptoms. In these cases, it is important to consider whether birth trauma to the child is a factor. This is often an overlooked area in medicine but it can often be a significant event in impacting the development of a child. Head trauma due to a prolonged and traumatic birth process is a event that may need to be given attention and therapies such as homeopathy, cranial/sacral work-osteopathy can be important in helping children recover from any birth trauma. This can even be enacted years after the actual birth if it is determined to be a factor in the causation of ADD.
Also, in these types of cases, the pregnancy of the mother has to be considered, especially if any serious emotional shock occurred or if there is a history of drug taking in the pregnancy or even before pregnancy began. Homeopathy pays especial attention to factors such as the family history of diseases, even going back 2-3 generations, as both physical and emotional/mental characteristics and conditions can be inherited and then expressed at certain times of a child's evolution. This is a very significant part of homeopathic thinking, much broader than just looking at genetic tendencies. It can connect seemingly disparate factors in the family history and understand how certain tendencies may manifest in children of parents with a particular history of physical and emotional conditions.
Therefore, in the treatment of ADHD, homeopathy both seeks to understand the specific expression of the condition, both physically and emotionally, as well as look at the possible causes that may have created or maintain these conditions. One of the biggest problems of classifying ADHD is that it is a very broad and generalized categorization and as mentioned many children can be classified as ADHD without showing any real problems. It is not like a physical disease that is classified according to objective physical symptoms and diagnosis. It is mostly a "phenomenological" disease, being determined by behavioral observations. As with any other condition, homeopathy may be able to find many remedies that can the address symptoms of ADHD. Each person is treated individually, the correct remedy being indicated for the unique expression of the situation for each person. As mentioned all the possible causative factors will have to be looked into as well as the specific symptoms. However, homeopathy can be extremely effective in addressing ADHD and many homeopathic practitioners have treated it successfully.
It is also no problem to treat children who are already on medications such as Ritalin. If treatment is successful, it is possible to gradually reduce the medication as the children will already be showing signs of improvement. The goal is obviously to discontinue medication so that the child may be able to function normally without being on any drugs. As inferred earlier, there is growing evidence that taking drugs such as Ritalin can produce serious consequences. These drugs are stimulants and produce similar addictive qualities to illegal drugs such as cocaine. They can produce a greater tendency to addiction to illegal drugs later in life, they can cause many physical problems, including growth suppression and tics, psychiatric problems such as aggression, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders and can have dangerous withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly. This is why it is important to work with qualified professionals when attempting to reduce and withdraw children from these medications.
Given the above problems with taking medication for these conditions, looking at alternatives such as homeopathy can be a vital support in dealing with the real issues that come up as a result of ADHD. The books recommended below can give more information both on the homeopathic treatment of ADHD as well as the consequences of taking stimulant drugs such as Ritalin.
The Ritalin Fact Book