A week ago, an op-ed appeared in the New York Times by L. Alan Sroufe, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, questioning society’s reliance on medications to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He suggested that Ritalin has “gone wrong,” in that we simply rely too heavily on drugs to treat childhood disorders.
He starts off the op-ed, “As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.”
Like most professionals who are trying to boil down decades worth of research into a layperson-friendly length, Dr. Sroufe unfortunately glosses over the psychological literature and what we know (and don’t know) about ADHD medications.
I will say this before we begin… most children would benefit not just from being prescribed an ADHD medication, but also getting specific psychological treatment as well. Few child psychologists and child specialists would be happy if their patients were only getting the benefits of one type of treatment, and many would agree that parents are too quick to medicate before trying non-medication options.