Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Son of Seven Was Turned into a Zombie by Ritalin in Two Weeks

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Son of Seven Was Turned into a Zombie by Ritalin in Two Weeks

Article excerpt


CRITICS CLAIM TOO MANY CHILDREN ARE BEING PRESCRIBED DRUG FOR OVERACTIVITY OVERACTIVE children are being given the controversial drug Ritalin when they could be cured by better parenting, campaigners claim.

The drug, dubbed "the chemical cosh", is prescribed to more than half a million children in Britain. It has been compared to cocaine and alters the way the brain responds to stimuli. It is commonly prescribed after a diagnosis of attention IT WASN'T until I spoke to the school doctor that I realised Shawn's behaviour might be a problem. He was concerned about reports from Shawn's teachers and asked me what he was like at home. I had never even heard of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but the doctor described it to me as a chemical imbalance of the brain and he said its symptoms described Shawn to a T.

Shawn has always been a spirited child. Ever since he could walk he has been active, always running around doing something. He's mischievous and can be naughty, especially if he isn't occupied. As a result he got into trouble at school, even though he was good at science and computers, and very creative.

When he was five, his teachers started expressing concern that he wouldn't sit still. He'd get up and wander around to talk to his friends.

He has always loved making people laugh, and he was getting into trouble for that as well. He was a bit loud and couldn't concentrate so was flitting from one thing to another. He often said he was bored. The school was worried he was disrupting other children, and that he was missing out on his education.

He was also prone to terrible temper tantrums. He could fly into a rage with me and his father, Geoffrey, if he was told off. He could be destructive with his toys. And he would argue with his little sister, Kerry-Marie, too. But all brothers and sisters fight. We thought it was a stage on from the Terrible Twos and that he'd grow out of it.

I didn't think much of it, partly because my parents told me I was exactly the same as a child: a bit boisterous, always on the go with a bit of a temper. Overall he was so good-natured and was always very loving and liked to cuddle. I just thought he was a naughty little boy.

Then we were given this diagnosis. The school doctor sent us to a specialist in behavioural problems.

She spoke to Shawn, but mainly to us, asking us questions like whether he could sit down at a table and eat a meal properly without getting up. She also spoke to his teachers and her verdict was he had ADHD. She recommended medication and suggested Ritalin. She said that if that didn't work, we could try something else.

We weren't keen. We were very doubtful about giving our sevenyearold a drug.

We told the doctor how worried we were but she reassured us it wasn't addictive and it would improve Shawn's behaviour. …

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