Several of my cousins on my dad's side have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. In the previous generation, on my dad's side at least, none of their parents had similar dignoses. From what my mom has learned just through talking to her brothers- and sisters-in-law, my dads' siblings' spouses didn't, for the most part, have the condition in their families, either. The fact that the disorder didn't exist or at least wasn't diagnosed in the previous generation doesn't make it impossible that the diagnoses in my first cousins are legitimate.
One thing that is interesting to me is that every single case of ADHD that has been diagnosed in my family was diagnosed, and medication was prescribed, when the family was living in Utah. My dad's family is large enough (he's one of ten children surviving to adulthood; my dad and my Uncle Steve each had two children surviving past infancy, but the other siblings produced a minimum of five children each, with the mean of offspring, when my dad and Uncle Steve are excluded, being over eight children. So even though it's only one family, it's a large enough sampling to make at least a few generalizations.
Six of my father's nine siblings live in Utah. Of the forty-four of my first cousins on my father's side who have lived in Utah, twenty-four are male. Of those twenty-four male cousins, fourteen were diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD. This ADHD-diagnosed population of male cousins equals 66.5 % of all male cousins who have lived in The Beehive State. The disgnoses in every case occurred no later than during the child's kindergarten year of school, with almost half occurring prior to kindergarten entrance. My mom thinks it's statistically significant that nearly all of these boys with ADHD diagnoses have birthdays no more than two months prior to the cut-off date for kindergarten entrance, and in each case the parents opted to start the boys in kindergarten rather than holding them out an additional year, which many educated parents will do when their children, particularly boys, are born near the kindergarten cut-off date.
Medicating a child with Ritalin (or similar drugs frequently prescribed for children with ADHD, i.e. Concerta or Adderal) is not the equivalient to giving him arsenic. Still, controversy is associated with the practice.
In some cases, medications to control ADHD are cleaarly indicated. If a child's hyperactivity, inattentiveness, distractibility, or impulsivity is making him a danger to himself or others, or his behavior is interfering with the education of either himself or his classmates, medication for the child is ethically and morally imperative. In less blatant cases, which correctly depicts all of the diagnosed cases of ADHD in my family, the prescribing of medications is arguably less imperative.
If I were on better terms with these relatives, I would give you more information on how the diagnoses were reached. Even without documented information in each case, I can state just from anecdotal information that
neighbors and fellow church members have suggested to my aunts and uncles that their lives might be made easier by taking their sons to particular pediatricians or family practitioners who were or are known to freely prescribe the common medications used to treat ADHD.
Again, it's not as though these boys were given poison. Still, some of them were given powerful medications that they did not need. My parents don't like to give my even acetaminophen or ibuprofen unless I really need it. It's impossible to state unequivocally that no harmful effects whatsoever have occurred through the ingestion of these medications.
Statistically speaking, probably at least one or two of the ADHD diagnoses were bona fide. A lot more, however, were borderline at best. My mother feels that they occurred in my family's case as a result of large families with parents lacking the coping skills to deal with boys who have difficulty not annoying parents and other adults in the confined settings of home during harsh winters and church during three-hour marathon sessions. The condition is exacerbated, my mom believes, by too much time spent watching television and playing video games from early ages.
Obvsiouly ADHD is very real, and if a child is truly suffering from it, medication should not be withheld. Equally obvious to me, however, is that ADHD is sometimes diagnosed with medication prescribed when the condition could be managed by more appropriately spent leisure time and better parenting strategies. My mother, whio is a licensed clinical psychologist, once said that there have been many times when she has observed the dynamics of a family in the waiting room of an office. In some of these cases, she has said, she would have loved to be able to approcah the parents and say something to the effect of, "I've seen a whole lot of children with their parents, and in your case, the problem is not your child; it's you!"
Information I received from one of my readers indicated that today was the court date of Jessica Beagley from Dr. Phil's show, of hot sauce fame, for her charge of child abuse. I'll have to see if any information was released. This isn't entirely pertinent, as she doesn't live in Utah, but I wonder if any of Sister Beagley's children, biological or otherwise, have been diagnosed with ADHD and are taking Ritalin or similar medications.