Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your child has ADHD and needs to be put on medication

 A few days ago a good friend of mine called me, very distressed because her 6-year-old son’s teacher called her in and told her that her son has an attention deficit disorder and he needs to be put on Ritalin. She asked me if I could do an assessment with him to see if he in fact does have a problem. So obviously I agreed, feeling very disturbed myself because I know how quick people are today to “diagnose” young children with Attention Deficit Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Furthermore I completely disagree with young children being given such strong, mind altering medication.

Now I’m not saying that the Disorder does not exist. I have seen children who actually do really have attention problems, but this does not apply to any child who can’t sit still and pay attention for long periods of time, especially if they are only 6 years old.

Anyway, back to the little boy in question. Ahmed, is his name, Masha’Allah he is such a cute little child, with these huge hazel eyes and sweet smile. I spent 2 hours with him, doing different tasks and he was able to sit still and pay attention throughout that time. Okay so he started getting a bit tired and lost concentration towards the end of the 2 hours, but isn’t that normal? Shouldn’t we allow for normal human behaviour? I mean, who doesn’t get tired after doing work for two hours straight. His behaviour in my eyes definitely did not warrant a diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD and he most definitely does not require medication.

I find it really sad, because what this “medication” does is control children. It turns them into robotic type kids, who are “manageable”. Since when are children supposed to sit still and be quiet for hours on end. Since when can we expect them not to be curious and explorative. I know that classroom situations are difficult for teacher’s, especially when they have to deal with large numbers of children who come from different cultural and language backgrounds, as is the case here in South Africa, but I think that we really should not be so quick to diagnose children with anything. Perhaps the child has a different learning style, where he or she cannot learn by looking at the board or even from reading books, perhaps there are children, like Ahmed who learns in a practical manner, by physically doing things and watching others do things. These differences in learning style are important and needs to be considered within a classroom setting, especially before making claims that children have a disorder and need to be put on Ritalin.
Image from here

I know that there are parents who initially thought that medicating their children would be good, only to regret it later, because they saw the effects that it had on their children. These “drugs” are not something to take lightly and the repercussions can be detrimental.

Now I’m not condemning the teacher in question here, after all I am not a teacher and truly admire those who are. I used to lifeskills sessions with children at schools and honestly they literally ran circles around me, so I know that I would never be able to do what teacher’s do every single day. Having said that however, I believe that children are all different, they are amazing and unique in their own way. A child may not be good at Math or reading, he/she may struggle with writing and learning letters, but that same child will have talents in other areas. Giving labels to children, especially at such a young age is dangerous, not only will it affect the child’s self-esteem, but it will also stifle their talent and it will teach them that if they can’t be like everyone else then there’s something wrong with them. This is very unfair in my opinion.

Let me just also add that I am not saying here that children should not be disciplined. I think that the discipline is very important for children. Children who grow up without discipline become adults without discipline and then we have a whole society of selfish and arrogant people, which we can already see today.

Let us remember the example of the Most Beloved of Allah, Our Master , Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He loved children, and treated them with kindness and respect, he took the time to understand each individual child’s problems and was never harsh with them. His perfection was evident in this area as well as he had just the right balance. If only everyone could emulate this perfect and blessed example, the world would be a better place for us all!


  1. Interesting Zarina. I think nowadays nobody has much patience with children.
    Each child is different and the school system does not allow her/him to be too different. I understand your friend concerns - her little boy is just full of life.

    I had some issues when I was small too. I was very shy and most of the time in my dreams or my own at school. The teacher, without telling my parents, made me see a Psychologist, they thought I was Autistic. The Psychologist said she could not see any of this in me, I was just shy, that's it.

    There is a lot to reflect on in your words. May we all learn to see each child as an individual and take time to understand him/her with his/her qualities and weaknesses.

    Stay well and have a lovely week.

  2. Marie

    Thanks, I agree with you, people lack patience in today's time, and why take the time and effort to see the differences in children when there's an easier solution, that's the thinking. But you've pointed out the problem of daignosing children very well, what if they had labelled you "autistic" when you are perfectly normal. At least you had a psychologist who was able to see the truth and be honest about it instead of just giving in to what the teacher's were saying. This is actually such a major issue because once you label and diagnose a child, you really can't take it back and it effects the child's whole life.

    Let's hope more people can begin to reflect.

    You stay well too and all the best for the week ahead!

  3. Assalamualaikum...being a mother, a child just wants the mother them you love and care for them...if they misbehave I just ignore them...eventually they get it. This works with teenagers too.

  4. Black Jubah

    Wa-alaykum salaam. I think that's very good advice and I guess that you learn all the tricks of dealing with children as time goes on, there's really nothing like experience itself. Thanks for sharing this advice with us.

  5. Thank you for this reminder that I needed as a teacher :)

  6. Little Auntie

    We all need remidners sometimes, and like I said being a teacher cannot be an easy task, may Allah reward all the teacher's out there who are helping to shape young innocent children into good adults. Inshaa-Allah!

  7. My son was referred by the nursery to the physcologist due to his behaviour - the assessor came out and said the nursery was the problem not my son! He was very bright and demanding and the nursery simply couldn't be bothered to stimulate him! They did eventually give him extra work and tasks to keep him busy. He is 13 now and doing great at school.

  8. Karima

    Masha'Allah this is such a perfect example of what I am trying to say here, and Alhamullillah that they found out there was nothing wrong with your child and that he is actually bright.

    Jazakallah khayr for sharing this experience with us. It's a perfect practical example.