Ritalin law targets schools, not docs
By Karen Pallarito
NEW YORK, Jul
25 (Reuters Health) - To reduce the inappropriate medication of
children with behavioral problems, a new Connecticut law takes aim
at the schoolhouse.
allows school medical staff to recommend that a child see a medical
practitioner and with parents' consent, teachers may consult with
a child's doctor. But it specifically forbids teachers, school psychologists
and other school officials from recommending that a child be prescribed
a psychotropic drug.
is the first state in the nation to pass a law targeting the alleged
practice by some school personnel of suggesting that an unruly student
take methylphenidate, which is most commonly known as Ritalin.
diagnosis is made and it's an appropriate diagnosis that Ritalin
be used, that's fine," said Rep. Lenny Winkler, lead sponsor
of the measure. "But I have also heard of many families approached
by the school system that their child cannot attend school if they're
not put on Ritalin," she told Reuters Health.
Winkler, a Republican
legislator who also works as an emergency room nurse, has seen "more
and more children on Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft, Haldol, Thorazine...which
has really taken me aback completely."
is nationwide, she added, and many professionals agree.
now, parents and teachers are putting a lot of pressure on professionals
to throw some Ritalin at kids," Dr. Janice Hutchinson, a Washington,
DC-based pediatrician and child psychiatrist, told Reuters Health.
"I understand the frustrations that parents and teachers have
with a child that cannot attend, that cannot listen...but these
kids need more than [a] kind of an armchair diagnosis of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder) plus Ritalin for treatment," she said.
the Connecticut law is fair because it means a child "is going
to have a thorough evaluation by the appropriate professional."
Education Association does not take a position on the issue, but
Kevin Dwyer, past president of the National Association of School
Psychologists, told Reuters Health that the law seems "somewhat
redundant" since only physicians are licensed to prescribe
perceive it as a necessary law," he said. It should be the
responsibility of school psychologists and principals to say what
teachers should and should not do, he added.
Dwyer, who currently
serves as senior adviser for prevention and children's mental health
with National Mental Health Association in Alexandria, Virginia,
agrees that it is not only improper for teachers to recommend that
children take Ritalin, it is potentially detrimental.
agree that without a proper diagnosis, it is impossible to tell
whether a child who is acting out in class is suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder or some other medical, psychological or social problem.
as a member of a board of education, Winkler insists that she holds
educators in the highest regard. Despite what critics contend, she
still believes the law is a necessary one. Since the law's enactment
in June, Winkler has received calls from legislators in several
states interested in passing a similar ban.
not be prescribing drugs without a thorough diagnosis, but teachers
should not be setting the stage by telling the parent "that
Johnny has a problem and Johnny needs to be put on Ritalin,"
Premier Health Care - A rapidly
expanding state of the art health care facility helping
to create a drug free saner world through the delivery of the most
advanced health care system on the planet - CHIROPRACTIC
EXPECT MIRACLES - WE DO
Located: 105 Ave. De La Estrella, Ste. 1A
San Clemente, California