LETTER: Ritalin helps raise children's self-esteem

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I WAS disappointed in the tone of the article about Ritalin ("My son was `like a cabbage'", 2 April). To highlight one case where the drug had unpleasant side-effects is surely misleading.

It became clear by the age of about six or seven that my daughter's inability to concentrate was affecting her performance at school. After hearing about Ritalin, I began giving it to her during the week. She has now been taking the medicine for about six months and has made considerable progress. It enables her to work efficiently and focus on the task at hand. Because it reduces her impulsiveness, a common characteristic of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, she is calmer and less irritating to others.

The article suggests that the drug is often given by "distressed" parents, but the point is that it is the children who are distressed by constant negative feedback about their impulsive and inappropriate behaviour. This obviously can have a devastating effect on their self-esteem, particularly as they are unable to understand why they get the response they do: ADHD is a chemical disorder over which they have no control.

We have found that even when she is not taking Ritalin, at weekends for example, she is more agreeable to be with because she has been having positive experiences at school.

Obviously Ritalin is not going to be effective for every child, but the article should have presented the nature and use of the drug in a more objective manner.

Name and address withheld

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