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Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 8th 06, 04:06 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Fred Goodwin, CMA
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 227
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14590058/

Pediatricians report increasing requests for 'academic doping'
By Victoria Clayton
MSNBC contributor

Updated: 10:16 a.m. CT Sept 7, 2006

A 15-year-old girl and her parents recently came in for a chat with Dr.
James Perrin, a Boston pediatrician, because they were concerned about
the girl's grades. Previously an A student, she was slipping to B's,
and the family was convinced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
was at fault - and that a prescription for Ritalin would boost her
brainpower.

After examining the girl, Perrin determined she didn't have ADHD. The
parents, who had come in demanding a prescription, left empty-handed.

Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and
spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other
physicians say this is an increasingly common scenario in doctors'
offices around the country, though there are no hard statistics on it.

Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about the
illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for "academic
doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure
pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly
admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.

"I spoke with [some] colleagues the other day and they mentioned
three cases recently where parents blatantly asked for the medication
so that their children would perform better in school, yet there were
no other indications that the child had ADHD," says Dr. Nick Yates, a
pediatrician and director of medical ethics for Mercy Hospital in
Buffalo, N.Y.

"I'm very concerned that there's a fair amount - and we don't
know how much - [of ADHD drugs] being prescribed and used for
off-label purposes," says Yates.

Academic doping - using these stimulant prescriptions in an effort to
enhance focus, concentration and mental stamina - first started on
college campuses, especially Ivy League and exclusive, competitive
schools. Now, the problem is filtering down to secondary schools, Yates
says, and more parents are playing a role in obtaining prescription
ADHD medication for their teenagers.

Yates isn't entirely surprised that parents ask for it. He believes
that most families simply have a heartfelt - if shockingly
misdirected - desire for their children to do their best.

Parents can be overly eager to blame poor grades on a medical condition
rather than looking for other explanations, says Dr. Michael Rater,
medical director of the Adolescent and Residential Treatment Program at
McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. "It's usually that parents are
just trying to understand their children's struggles in a narrative
that makes sense to them," he says.

Yet some parents will do whatever it takes to keep opportunities from
slipping through a child's fingers - even outright lying to doctors
to get the drugs, says Rater.

And some pill-eager parents aren't just seeking to level the playing
field, they're trying to make their kids superstars, says Dr. Martin
Stein, a professor of clinical pediatrics at University of California,
San Diego.

"I see patients who come from privileged backgrounds and lower-level
economic backgrounds and there's a tremendous difference in parental
expectations," Stein says.

Privileged kids tend to have parents who will push them to be the
academic cream of the crop and when they aren't, they'll start
looking for reasons why, he says. "I tell them that honor roll, a
merit scholarship or acceptance in an Ivy League school is not the end
point. That would be poor medicine."

Safety issues

The concerns with academic doping aren't just ethical.

"The medications in general have a long safety record for people who
need them but when you use a drug for off-label purposes, there are
additional safety concerns," says Yates.

Although doctors generally agree that side effects from the medications
are minimal for most kids, there is an extensive, and sometimes
frightening, list of possibilities.

Commonly reported side effects include difficulty sleeping, loss of
appetite, irritability, stomachaches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea,
dizziness, drowsiness and tics and tremors. There have been concerns
that ADHD medication temporarily delays growth, and one study found
that up to 5 percent of children experience tactile hallucinations,
often involving a sensation that bugs or snakes are crawling on their
bodies. The FDA recently announced that certain ADHD drugs should
caution users about the risks of serious heart problems and psychotic
behavior.

A 2004 rat study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and
McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School suggested that children who take
prescription drugs for ADHD but do not have the disorder may be at
higher risk for developing depressive symptoms in adulthood. The study
was particularly looking at the issue of misdiagnosis but it raises
obvious concerns for the future of young people who are electing to
take the medicine for no other reason than to do well in school.

In addition, Yates says that possible dependency issues, either
psychological or physical, could occur when the drugs are being
misused. It's widely acknowledged that some kids abuse the drugs to
get high. The pills are often crushed and snorted or even injected.

Searching out other explanations

While ADHD drugs aren't a quick fix for a lackluster report card, Stein
says that poor academic performance is cause for investigation -
sometimes for ADHD but also for a host of other problems. "If it was
brought to my attention that someone's grades were going down even to
B's I would start looking at the whole picture," he says.

Stein says there are a variety of learning disabilities and myriad
situations that are not medical but still may have an impact on a
child's academic performance.

"It could also be something situational like a divorce or a
relationship with another person this kid is having," he says. "It
could be that a parent has lost a job and there's financial stress in
the family."

Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders might also be at work.

"ADHD is only one of the possibilities, and I make a point to put
that at the end," says Stein.

Perrin says he's particularly skeptical when he's treated a patient
for many years and attention problems are only brought up once the
child reaches high school. The 15-year-old girl in question, for
example, had been his patient for more than a decade. He concluded that
she was just a normal teen experiencing the distractions - sports,
boys, friends - that teens experience.

He said that even if he had ultimately determined that the girl had
ADHD, medication would not have been a speedy remedy. "True ADHD is
not something that is dealt with quickly," he says.

Scrupulous doctors, Perrin says, will take numerous office visits and
much investigation before diagnosing the problem. And, if ADHD is
diagnosed, they will not just prescribe medication. They'll also
prescribe behavioral therapy (sometimes for the entire family) and
recommend fairly significant changes in the child's home and learning
environment.

Furthermore, doctors warn that if a kid doesn't have ADHD, the
benefit from taking the drugs is unpredictable and, despite the lore,
most likely extremely modest. Parents of unmotivated kids may be
particularly disappointed.

"One of the biggest problems in adolescent mental health is
motivation," says Rater. "And this medication doesn't effect
motivation. If a kid is not all that motivated, it's really not going
to help."

---
Victoria Clayton is a freelance writer based in California and
co-author of "Fearless Pregnancy: Wisdom and Reassurance from a Doctor,
a Midwife and a Mom," published by Fair Winds Press.

  #2  
Old September 8th 06, 06:06 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Herman Rubin
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 383
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

In article .com,
Fred Goodwin, CMA wrote:
Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14590058/


Pediatricians report increasing requests for 'academic doping'
By Victoria Clayton
MSNBC contributor


Updated: 10:16 a.m. CT Sept 7, 2006


A 15-year-old girl and her parents recently came in for a chat with Dr.
James Perrin, a Boston pediatrician, because they were concerned about
the girl's grades. Previously an A student, she was slipping to B's,
and the family was convinced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
was at fault - and that a prescription for Ritalin would boost her
brainpower.


After examining the girl, Perrin determined she didn't have ADHD. The
parents, who had come in demanding a prescription, left empty-handed.


Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and
spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other
physicians say this is an increasingly common scenario in doctors'
offices around the country, though there are no hard statistics on it.


Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about the
illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for "academic
doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure
pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly
admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.


I suggest that grades be abolished, except for advisory
purposes. Also, it should be understood that getting a
high grade and learning the important material may well
be at odds with each other.

Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.
--
This address is for information only. I do not claim that these views
are those of the Statistics Department or of Purdue University.
Herman Rubin, Department of Statistics, Purdue University
Phone: (765)494-6054 FAX: (765)494-0558
  #3  
Old September 8th 06, 07:49 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Fred Goodwin, CMA
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 227
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

Herman Rubin wrote:

Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Would such a student be accepted at, say, Purdue, to major in, say,
statistics?

  #4  
Old September 8th 06, 08:38 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Herman Rubin
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 383
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

In article . com,
Fred Goodwin, CMA wrote:
Herman Rubin wrote:


Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Would such a student be accepted at, say, Purdue, to major in, say,
statistics?


We do have statistics major, but I would not recommend
someone with ability to do so, unless it was a joint
major with mathematics.

The admissions department probably would look on such
a record with disfavor; however, if the SATs, in
particular the math one, were good, direct communication
to the department might get results.

Many high schools will not reveal grades or GPAs or
class ranks to universities, including most of the
good ones in Indiana. In that case, the admissions
department, of whatever school, would not know about
those poor grades.

What we really need for university admission, and even
for high school graduation, is a comprehensive examination
of sufficient length, with no multiple choice questions,
and examining understanding.


--
This address is for information only. I do not claim that these views
are those of the Statistics Department or of Purdue University.
Herman Rubin, Department of Statistics, Purdue University
Phone: (765)494-6054 FAX: (765)494-0558
  #5  
Old September 8th 06, 08:58 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Pubkeybreaker
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills


Herman Rubin wrote:
In article . com,
Fred Goodwin, CMA wrote:
Herman Rubin wrote:



What we really need for university admission, and even
for high school graduation, is a comprehensive examination
of sufficient length, with no multiple choice questions,
and examining understanding.


What is sufficient length? A 3-hour exam in each of English,
Foreign Language, Math, History, Government, Biology, Chemistry,
Physics, Art, Music, Phys Ed etc. etc?
You would also need exams for many *different* foreign languages...
Most states have a Phys Ed requirement for graduation.

Where are Universities going to get the money to pay for people
(or even find enough people) to grade these exams? Ditto for
high schools?

What consitutes a "comprehensive" exam? Not all students study
all material to the same depth. Would you expect that someone planning
to be a music major study math, chemistry and physics to the same
extent as a potential physics major? Or vice versa? You would have
to have *many* different exams depending on the type of program
followed
in high school. This would be prohibitive to administer.

The alternative "one size fits all" comprehensive exam would either
set
the bar too low, or not properly separate the students applying to
Princeton
from the students applying to Podunk University. Or do you propose a
separate exam for each college? Now we are REALLY talking about
"expensive"!!

  #6  
Old September 8th 06, 10:45 PM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
Donna Metler
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 135
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills


"Pubkeybreaker" wrote in message
oups.com...

Herman Rubin wrote:
In article . com,
Fred Goodwin, CMA wrote:
Herman Rubin wrote:



What we really need for university admission, and even
for high school graduation, is a comprehensive examination
of sufficient length, with no multiple choice questions,
and examining understanding.


What is sufficient length? A 3-hour exam in each of English,
Foreign Language, Math, History, Government, Biology, Chemistry,
Physics, Art, Music, Phys Ed etc. etc?
You would also need exams for many *different* foreign languages...
Most states have a Phys Ed requirement for graduation.

Where are Universities going to get the money to pay for people
(or even find enough people) to grade these exams? Ditto for
high schools?

What consitutes a "comprehensive" exam? Not all students study
all material to the same depth. Would you expect that someone planning
to be a music major study math, chemistry and physics to the same
extent as a potential physics major? Or vice versa? You would have
to have *many* different exams depending on the type of program
followed
in high school. This would be prohibitive to administer.

The alternative "one size fits all" comprehensive exam would either
set
the bar too low, or not properly separate the students applying to
Princeton
from the students applying to Podunk University. Or do you propose a
separate exam for each college? Now we are REALLY talking about
"expensive"!!

Well, this is what schools of music do, both at the baccalaureate and
post-baccalaureate levels. You do an audition/interview and take tests in
theory and literature (and, depending on the major, a scholarly writing
sample), which determine not only your admission but your placement. Most
good music schools do not accept the Music AP exams or the GRE as valid for
people majoring in the field and prefer to do their own testing, and even
the SAT/ACT is very secondary to the student's interview when it comes to
getting accepted to the school of music, although it may come into play in
getting into the college or university hosting the program. The real expense
comes to the parents and the student, who have to travel to do these
placement interviews/auditions on site instead of just sending in an
application.

I strongly suspect that an oral exam/discussion given 1-1 would have much
the same benefit a music audition/interview does, if schools decided to do
it that way.







  #7  
Old September 9th 06, 12:01 AM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
karlisa
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 11
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills


Herman Rubin wrote:


Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Interesting, and if such a student were to attend college and have that
same attitude about his/her school work and then earn a bunch of D's or
F's, don't you think it is a safe assumption that the student will be
placed on academic probation or suspension? So, there are consequences
to being a slackard.

Many high schools will not reveal grades or GPAs or

class ranks to universities, including most of the
good ones in Indiana. In that case, the admissions
department, of whatever school, would not know about
those poor grades.


I work in the admissions office at a large public university and I can
tell you, the high school students who apply at our university are
required to provide high school transcripts with their applications.
These transcripts *do* reveal grades and GPAs. Many provide class
rank. We probably only receive one or two transcripts a year from high
schools that do not grade their students. However, they will provide a
course description of each course that they student took and then a
notation beside it that says "if the student were to receive a grade in
this course, he/she would have earned an 'A'or 'B' or whatever." So
I'm doubtful that there are really that many students who don't have
grades or gpa's recorded on their transcripts. Even the homeschooled
kids have grades recorded on their transcripts. Of course, they're all
A's. ;-)

lisa



What we really need for university admission, and even
for high school graduation, is a comprehensive examination
of sufficient length, with no multiple choice questions,
and examining understanding.


--
This address is for information only. I do not claim that these views
are those of the Statistics Department or of Purdue University.
Herman Rubin, Department of Statistics, Purdue University
Phone: (765)494-6054 FAX: (765)494-0558


  #8  
Old September 9th 06, 01:41 AM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
nimue
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 645
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

Herman Rubin wrote:
In article .com,
Fred Goodwin, CMA wrote:
Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14590058/


Pediatricians report increasing requests for 'academic doping'
By Victoria Clayton
MSNBC contributor


Updated: 10:16 a.m. CT Sept 7, 2006


A 15-year-old girl and her parents recently came in for a chat with
Dr. James Perrin, a Boston pediatrician, because they were concerned
about the girl's grades. Previously an A student, she was slipping
to B's, and the family was convinced attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder was at fault - and that a prescription for Ritalin would
boost her brainpower.


After examining the girl, Perrin determined she didn't have ADHD. The
parents, who had come in demanding a prescription, left empty-handed.


Perrin, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and
spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other
physicians say this is an increasingly common scenario in doctors'
offices around the country, though there are no hard statistics on
it.


Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about
the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for
"academic doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure
pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly
admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.


I suggest that grades be abolished, except for advisory
purposes. Also, it should be understood that getting a
high grade and learning the important material may well
be at odds with each other.

Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Yeah. My straight-A kids are weak, shallow, and live meaningless lives,
while the kids who got Ds and Fs tend to be strong, deep, and are also
really in touch with the important things. Please. Most D and F kids are
lost, confused, and angry. I have seen countless straight-A students go on
to success and happiness. It's no guarantee, of course, but being able to
stay on the ball when a person is young is a pretty good indication that a
person will continue to do so when he or she is older. Failing in high
school doesn't mean a person will fail in life, but getting back on track
will be harder. Anyway, lord! What a stupid thing to say. Straight-A
students are shallow. You sound like a jealous kid with a 2.0 average. My
straight-A kids have rich souls. The D students do, too, for that matter.
So, what are these important things that failing students are so much better
at? I'd love to know.

--
nimue

"As an unwavering Republican, I have quite naturally burned more books
than I have read." Betty Bowers

English is our friend. We don't have to fight it.
Oprah


  #9  
Old September 9th 06, 03:07 AM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
toto
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 784
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

On 8 Sep 2006 13:06:37 -0400, (Herman
Rubin) wrote:

Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about the
illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for "academic
doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure
pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly
admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.


I suggest that grades be abolished, except for advisory
purposes. Also, it should be understood that getting a
high grade and learning the important material may well
be at odds with each other.

This is something I agree with. It seems to me that students who
focus on the grades are not focused on learning, but on pleasing the
teacher or doing the minimum to get the grade s/he wants.

Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Again we agree, but the problem is that colleges do NOT want students
who have poor grades. My dd had a class she earned a C in that she
says was the best class she ever took in her major. She struggled
with it, but learned more than she did in many classes that were
*easy* As for her.


--
Dorothy

There is no sound, no cry in all the world
that can be heard unless someone listens ..

The Outer Limits
  #10  
Old September 9th 06, 03:42 AM posted to misc.kids,misc.education,alt.parenting.solutions,misc.kids.health,alt.support.attn-deficit
nimue
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 645
Default Seeking straight A's, parents push for pills

toto wrote:
On 8 Sep 2006 13:06:37 -0400, (Herman
Rubin) wrote:

Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they've heard about
the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for
"academic doping." Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure
pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly
admitting they don't believe their child has ADHD.


I suggest that grades be abolished, except for advisory
purposes. Also, it should be understood that getting a
high grade and learning the important material may well
be at odds with each other.

This is something I agree with. It seems to me that students who
focus on the grades are not focused on learning, but on pleasing the
teacher or doing the minimum to get the grade s/he wants.


Are you a teacher or are you just repeating a myth you have heard? I am a
teacher and I can tell you that kids who get As usually do so because they
love learning. How many times have you heard a kid say, "I failed that
class because it was boring?" What about "I passed that class because it was
fun?" Kids who enjoy learning do well in class. Pretty simple.

Furthermore, I see nothing wrong with signing up for a
course and then deciding it is not worth completing. I
see nothing wrong with collecting a lot of D's and F's;
the straight-A student tends to be weak and shallow in
the important things.


Again we agree, but the problem is that colleges do NOT want students
who have poor grades.


There's a good reason for that. Kids get low grades because they don't show
up and don't do the work. Why would a college want someone like that?

My dd had a class she earned a C in that she
says was the best class she ever took in her major. She struggled
with it, but learned more than she did in many classes that were
*easy* As for her.


You know, I LOVE learning -- English and history, that is. I love it so
much I couldn't stop and so I became a teacher. There is nothing like
talking about literature all day long -- FUN! As for math and science --
forget about it. NOT my thing. Anyway, I just ate up everything in all my
literature and history courses, but I would have had a heart attack had I
ever received a C. It's possible to love what you are learning and want to
get a high grade as well.

--
nimue

"As an unwavering Republican, I have quite naturally burned more books
than I have read." Betty Bowers

English is our friend. We don't have to fight it.
Oprah


 




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