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Alternatives to Ritalin

Their are many alternatives that a parent can choose besides Ritalin. A child who is full of energy is in need of more attention. Children aren't bored, inattentive, undisciplined, resentful or violent by their individual natures; but the stigmatizing label ADHD implies that they are. These children are usually more energetic and more spirited, or more in need of an interesting environment, than their parents and teachers can handle. One of the early advocates of hyperactivity as a diagnosis describes them as unusually dynamic bundles of energy (Weeder, 1973). Yet they are being diagnosed with a mental illness-a label that can follow them into adulthood to ruin their future lives.

When adults provide them a better environment, they tend to quickly improve their outlook and behavior. But, children and teenagers can eventually become so upset, confused and self-destructive that they internalize the pain or become compulsively rebellious. They may need the intervention of a therapeutic-unconditionally caring adult to help them overcome their inner suffering and outrage. Sometimes these children can benefit from learning how to help ease the conflicted situation. But they should never be given the idea that they are diseased or defective, as the primary cause of their conflicts with their schools and families. Children can benefit from guidance in learning to be responsible for their own conduct; but they do not gain from being blamed for the trauma and stress that they are exposed to in the environment around them. They need empowerment, not humiliating diagnoses and mind-disabling drugs. Most of all, they thrive when adults show concern and attention to their basic needs as children.

Additionally, most so-called ADHD children are not receiving sufficient attention from their fathers who are separated from the family, too preoccupied with work and other things, or otherwise impaired in their ability to parent. In many cases the appropriate diagnosis is Dad Attention Deficit Disorder (DADD) (Breggin, 1991). The "cure" for these children is more rational and loving attention from their dads. Young people are nowadays so hungry for the attention of a father that it can come from any male adult. Seemingly impulsive, hostile groups of children will calm down when a caring, relaxed, and firm adult male is around.

If the list of criteria for ADHD has any use, it identifies children who are bored, anxious, or angry around some of the adults in their lives or in some adult-run institutions, such as the school and family. These "symptoms" should not red flag the children as mentally ill. They should red flag the adults as requiring new alternatives to attend to the needs of the children. When a small child, perhaps five or six years old, is persistently disrespectful or angry, there is always a stressor that child's life-something over which the child has little or no control. Sometimes, the child is not being respected, because children learn more by example than by anything else. When treated with respect, they tend to respond respectfully. When loved, they tend to be loving. While the source of the child's upset may turn out to be more complicated than that-perhaps the parent is too afraid or distracted to apply rational discipline and lets the child run wild, or perhaps the child is being abused outside the home-the source always lies in the larger world. Children do not, on their own, create severe emotional conflicts within themselves and with the adults around them.

Information on this page is from: The Hazards of Treating "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" with Methylphenidate (Ritalin) by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. and Ginger Ross Breggin