Search - Investigative Reports: Generation Rx - Reading, Writing, and Ritalin on DVD


Investigative Reports: Generation Rx - Reading, Writing, and Ritalin
Investigative Reports Generation Rx - Reading Writing and Ritalin
Actor: Bill Kurtis
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2008     0hr 50min

A look at how America's love affair with prescription drugs has moved into the playpen.Today, 4 million children begin their school day by taking a small yellow pill, Ritalin, to control their hyperactivity. Since 1990, th...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Bill Kurtis
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/26/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 0hr 50min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Informative and Frightening - Shows Three Different Children
christinemm - The Thinking Mother | Connecticut, United States | 01/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In this documentary, Investigative Reports shows three case studies, three stories of children on the issue of whether Ritalin is safe and good for children to use for treatment of ADD or ADHD.

Discussed is how a diagnosis is made, how classroom teachers are usually the ones making the diagnosis, because usually primary care physicians like pediatricians only send a checklist of symptoms to a teacher and use just that to decide to medicate the child. It was said that too many primary caregivers (pediatricians) are prescribing the medication instead of referring the child to a specialist (psychiatrist) for a more thorough evaluation with a more highly trained doctor who is aware of contraindications with prescription medications. You see, no medical test, no blood test or brain scan is currently able to detect ADD or ADHD. All the symptoms on the list are classroom behaviors. The opinion was stated that some psychiatrists feel that misdiagnoses and over-medication is happening but that opinion was counter-balanced by statements that sometimes medication does help a child. All these opinions were stated by doctors and the opinions varied. I was under the impression that the show was trying to be balanced.

The show presented differing opinions which I broke into four categories of opinions. Three are ones that medical doctors stated: one questions whether ADD and ADHD actually exists as a real medical condition, one thinks it is over-diagnosed and over treated, another thinks it does exist and in some cases medication can help and not harm. A fourth opinion shown being held by one family (the parents) is that alternative therapies (things other than use of prescription medications) can work to help a child who does have the condition enough that prescriptions medications are not used at all.

While one opinion was that medications can work to help a child another statement was made by a medical doctor that there is no proof that academic performance or learning has ever improved with the use of Ritalin. That information really surprised me. At the end of the show it was stated that the U.S. government was going to fund studies to research ADD and ADHD and medication use.

The show is easy to understand for a layperson yet is not boring or dumbed-down. The show is thought-provoking for me it went beyond that to be a bit frightening. It could be that the show scared me because I'm in the camp of "if one child is harmed we should question the issue" rather than the camp of "if it helps a larger percentage of kids and if just a small percentage are harmed by it (with someone filling in the blank of what number is acceptable), that is the cost that we must accept". (The same case is made for the issue of vaccinating an entire population of children when a small percentage may have mild or serious adverse reactions, even death.)

One story is of a boy who was pushed by his teacher to begin using Ritalin. After one year of medication use he began having serious problems such as psychotic episodes. It was stated that he was put on two medications which are not supposed to be taken together. To make a long story short, family removed the boy from both of the drugs. The school principal then turned the family in to the state for `medical neglect' and the family was at risk to have both he and his younger sibling taken away from them and put into foster care. The school said unless the boy was put back on Ritalin he would be expelled, and so he was expelled. The boy is now homeschooled and is doing much better off of the drugs. The father said he feels the school was using a `strong arm tactic' and the school wants compliance out of the families as well as the students!

The second story was of a girl whose teacher thought she would do better in first grade if she took Ritalin. The family decided to use Ritalin as they wanted their daughter to do well in school. They report her penmanship is better and that she can do her work a little faster. However the family says she is off the medication on weekends and during vacation days and the summer and she is just fine. (One thing about making the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD is that the symptoms must also appear in multiple settings, not just be in school, I note, but that was not addressed in the show.) The family reports no negative side effects from taking the drug.

The third story was of a boy aged five who had not yet begun Kindergarten. The family worries he may be classified as ADD or ADHD and they worried of the risks of Ritalin so they are exploring alternative therapies like investigating the effect of foods on behavior.

Statistics were given such as since 1990, 95% of the world's use of Ritalin is in the United States. One has to wonder why this ADD and ADHD rise is not happening in other developed countries. America has four million children on Ritalin, we are told.

The scariest part was that Ritalin and an ADD or ADHD `diagnosis' made by classroom teachers is often the first step in a spiral of prescription medication use which sometimes winds up being 4-5 psychiatric drugs in children under age 18. He feels that this contributes to problems as bad as eventual suicide. He stated he feels this disorder is being misdiagnoses and mistreated and that the drugs are causing other new problems in children that are serious, dangerous and life-threatening.

Dr. Barklay urged parents to become experts by reading and gathering information from a wide variety of sources and looking for consistency across multiple sources. In that spirit I would recommend that all parents of children with ADD or ADHD read a book about helping children academically after school with information in the book "Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child" by Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons. For information about the affect of food on behavior see "Is This Your Child" by Doris Rapp M.D. Also find information on studies about deficits of essential fatty acids causing symptoms of ADD and ADHD, such as is mentioned in DVD and audio lectures of Dianne Craft.

(If you want to know what drugs are discussed on this show, they talked a great deal about Ritalin, also discussed to a lesser extent, Dexadrine and also the anti-depressant Paxil.)
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