Toddlers On Speed
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Toddlers On Speed


According to this alarming article on Media Roots, there are currently more than 10,000 toddlers, some as young as two, being treated with medication for ADHD. This is being done outside the established pediatric guidelines, according to new data put together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Say What?!

The study showed that toddlers who are covered by Medicaid are especially prone to being prescribed meds like Adderall and Ritalin. Of course, when this new data was reported at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at Atlanta’s Carter Center, doctors there took major umbrage with the disturbing findings. (Thank God we’re not the only peeps who find that report majorly disturbing!)

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ standard ADHD guidelines don’t even bother examining standards of care when it comes to that particular diagnosis in kids under the age of three. Why? Because the safety and efficacy of psych mends on kids that young isn’t worth exploring—i.e., it shouldn’t need to be explored.

“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” says Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”

Starting Way Too Young

What’s incredibly off-putting about this practice from an addict standpoint is the concern that prescribing stimulants to kids so young could set them up for addiction and liver toxification problems, among other issues, later in life. Don’t they—and we—all have enough to worry about already when it comes to safely raising children in today’s seriously scary and fucked-up world?

Then again, maybe it shouldn’t be that shocking that doctors are tossing meds at children who are barely walking—it’s part of a larger pattern that’s been playing out culturally for years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.9 million kids age 17 or below get an ADHD diagnosis at some point in life. Gah.

An Aid to Kids or a Crutch for Parents?

WTF? Do all of these kids, of any age, truly have this condition, or are we medicating them more for our benefit—that is, to tamp down on their natural biology that just aren’t that fun for parents to deal with (excitability, inattention to detail, a hard time sitting still, et al)?

Vaguely related: I still remember when a friend from high school decided she needed to start taking Ritalin—not because she had, you know, actual ADHD, but because she wanted to ace her SATs. Duh! It was easy as pie for her to get, too—she faked it for a doctor, got the drugs, and go figure: she aced the SATs.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.