We just saw this article, “Attention Disorder or Not, Pills to Help in School,” from Tuesday’s New York Times on an alarming new trend of doctors who are ”prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance.”
From the article: “I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”
One school superintendent from the article noted that, in his district at least, diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.
In some cases, parents are making the choice to medicate their children to improve school performance. One section of the article outlines the drug regimen of one family in Georgia, including Adderall, anti-psychotics and a sleep aid to counteract the other medicines. The parents of these children openly acknowledge that two of their four kids don’t have A.D.H.D. The Adderall is just to help their grades, and because one child was, in her father’s words, “a little blah.”
This article made us cringe. What do you think? Would you medicate your child to improve his or her academic performance? Does the short-term benefit of better behavior and grades outweigh the risk of unknown long-term side-effects of the drugs?