Yesterday, the BBC's Panorama followed up on an earlier programme looking at kids in Britain with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The main focus was one child called Craig who was first interviewed in 2000 when he was seven. He's now a teenager suffering really badly with ADHD and getting into trouble with the law after assaulting his teacher at high school.
The main thing I came away with is based on a follow up study of the use of Ritalin and Concerta prescribed for kids with ADHD. These are powerful drugs for anyone, but especially children. And they don't work. The MTA study which was done in America in 2000 had originally cited improvements in behaviour with medication and since then medication has become the first best option. Now however, seven years on, the research has borne out different results. The drugs don't work long term, in fact they have no beneficial properties at all, according to Professor William Pelham, a world authority on ADHD. But sadly, one thing they do have is very negative side effects including stunted growth.
the National Institute for Clinical Excellence is currently revising the treatment guidelines for ADHD in this country where Panorama estimated 55,000 kids have been treated with medication. Food for the Brain estimates up to 5% of children in Britain have ADHD. I was very interested in this report as I prepare for my son's assessment which may very well include ADHD. When I watched some of the kids with ADHD, I realised though, that my son doesn't seem to be that severe if he does have it. He does show many elements, but thankfully he's not aggressive and destructive. We are planning to follow an experimental plan of increasing his fatty acid intake (omega 3 & 6) which has been documented as helping behavioural problems.