Does your child really need Ritalin?
Prescriptions for Ritalin have doubled in the the last decade for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder but is this chemical cosh an easy option when it should be the drug of last resort
Ben Napier wasn’t your typical ADHD child, more of a daydreamer than a misbehaver, remembers his mother, Pauline. 'He’d forget to hand in his homework, even though it was in his bag and have trouble understanding instructions or copying anything down off the board,’ she says. 'He was struggling at school and I knew something was wrong.’ When Ben was 12, his teacher recommended Pauline take him to see a doctor.
After a two-year process of assessment, Ben was finally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Though Ben was relieved, 'I know I’m not stupid now,’ his mother was heartbroken. 'I felt powerless,’ says Pauline. By way of help, the only option offered to Ben was the medication methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin, which works by stimulating a part of the brain that modifies mental and behavioural reactions. 'There was no offer of behavioural or parenting support, nothing,’ says Pauline. 'I felt it was my only option. It’s a terrible decision to have to make; to medicate your child.’