Thursday, September 27, 2001

Distracting reading

Is Ritalin falling out of favor?

On the one hand, judging from some of the e-mail lists I'm on for adoptive and special-needs parents, medication for kids with attentional problems is as popular as ever. Detailed discussions take place on the amount and the timing and the transitions involved in various medications, and while admitting that the medication of children is not an exact science, many parents seem pretty committed to it.

Then, too, my kids both brought home memos from the school nurse announcing general guidelines regarding the distributing of medication at school, and I don't think she was talking about allergy pills and aspirin. There must be a sufficient number of Ritalin-taking kids to make a schoolwide announcement more practical than individual notification.

But then, on the other hand... Looking at the best-sellers in the category of Parenting Special-Needs: Hyperactivity on, I can't help but notice that of the top 10 books, six are specifically anti-medication, and two more stress behavior modification. Signs of change? A turning of the tide? Or is it just in the nature of self-help books to offer something different from the norm, and in the nature of self-help-book buyers to seek that something? Take a look at these titles and judge for yourself (quotes are from publisher's descriptions unless otherwise noted):

1. Talking Back to Ritalin: What Doctors Aren't Telling You About Stimulants and ADHD by Peter Roger Breggin.
"Millions of children take Ritalin for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The drug's manufacturer, Novartis, claims that Ritalin is the "solution" to this widespread problem. But hidden behind the well-oiled public-relations machine is a potentially devastating reality: children are being given a drug that can cause the same bad effects as amphetamine and cocaine, including behavioral disorders, growth suppression, neurological tics, agitation, addiction, and psychosis. Talking Back to Ritalin uncovers these and other startling facts and translates the research findings for parents and doctors alike."

2. Without Ritalin by Samuel A. Berne.
"We spent 373 million on Ritalin and its generic counterparts in 1996; today, some 4 million children are taking the drug daily. Is it any wonder that parents are searching for safe, nontoxic, drug-free alternatives? In Without Ritalin, Dr. Samuel Berne explains the approach with which he has successfully treated more than 3,000 ADD/ADHD-diagnosed patients, including information on detoxification, nutrition, and developmental learning programs and activities."

3. Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell A. Barkley.
From Book News Inc.: "Empowers parents of children with ADHD by giving them a step-by-step plan for behavior management, hard data on diagnosis and treatment, strategies for helping children succeed at school and in social situations, and information on advances in genetic and neurological research that enhance understanding of the causes of ADHD. Includes an annotated list of books, organizations, and Internet resources."

4. Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Eastley
"Children are fascinated by bigger reactions and children who are a bit more needy or sensitive or intense are particularly drawn to bigger reactions. Some children literally feel invisable unless they are doing the things they know will get their parent or teacher going. ... The secret is in strategically energizing successes instead of accidentally energizing failures. The good news is that this is extremely easy to turn around. Instead of trying to make the child's intensity go away through expensive treatments and the use of medications, the intensity becomes an asset. Children very quickly begin to use their intensity in beautiful ways. It's truly amazing. ADHD children are actually the easiest to 'transform' completely to a new and fully successful way of life."

5. Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents by Ronald M. Rapee (editor).
"All kids get scared, but some fears can escalate into paranoias with long-term ramifications. This step-by-step guide tackles the why, how, and what now of anxiety disorders. Written in everyday language, it describes in detail strategies and techniques parents can combine into a comprehensive self-help program for managing a child's worry while building confidence and self-control." (No, I don't know why this is on the hyperactivity list either.)

6. Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embracing Disorganization at Home and In the Workplace by Sari Solden.
From the author: "Many women experience great shame when they are unable to conform to our society's degrading 'job description for women.' With exercises, self-talk and stories I help women dismantle their self-images as "slobs" or "space cadets" and enjoy a new cycle of success on their own."

7. Ritalin Is Not the Answer: A Drug-Free, Practical Program for Childrena Diagnosed with ADD or ADHD by David B. Stein, Ph.D.
"How parents, teachers, friends and family can rescue their children from the widespread and extremely dangerous use of an amphetamine (speed) called Ritalin to control 'normal but inconvenient' behavior."
8. The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
"Doreen explores the psyche of these special kids and offers alternative solutions to Ritalin based on her extensive research and interviews with child-care experts, teachers, parents, and the Indigo Children themselves. Read the accounts of these remarkable children as they explain why they act-out, are aggressive or withdrawn; and what they want from the adults in their lives."

9. The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki, M.D.
"Temperamentally difficult children can confuse and upset even experienced parents and teachers. They often act defiant, stubborn, loud, aggressive, or hyperactive. They can also be clingy, shy, whiny, picky, and impossible at bedtime, mealtimes, and in public places. This landmark book has been completely revised to include the latest information on ADHD, medications, and a reassuring approach to all aspects of childhood behavioral disorders."

10. The ADD Nutrition Solution: A Drug-Free Thirty-Day Plan by Marcia Zimmerman.
"The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution provides groundbreaking information on the nutritional deficits, food allergies, and hereditary and environmental factors that can cause attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), a condition that afflicts more than 17 million people in this country today. Drawing from her 10 years of research, counseling, and lecturing on nutrition and AD/HD, certified nutritionist Marcia Zimmerman clearly explains why what we eat affects how we think and outlines an easy-to-follow 30-day dietary and supplement plan shown to decrease or end AD/HD symptoms completely."

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