A book published many, many years ago describes in detail how
eyeglasses came into the world. People have always had
problems with their eyesight, and when convex or concave
lenses were first used to improve vision, neither the
nearsighted nor the farsighted leaped at the invention as
anticipated. They were embarrassed.
The use of spectacles, as they were called, was a clear
admission that the owner was handicapped. They conveyed the
information that the wearer had a seeing impairment, that he
saw things in a haze, that he found it difficult to read and
to recognize people. The truth is they knew this about him
anyway, just as all of us know when another person fails to
recognize us and is constantly squinting his eyes. But this
did not change people's reluctance to make their problem
obvious to the public by wearing glasses.
At first, some opted for a different type of seeing aid, a
sort of magnifying glass known as a monocle and later
pincers, which were bereft of ear pieces. Somewhere along the
way an optometry company came up with the brilliant
innovation of presenting glasses as a fashion accessory and a
status symbol. The outcome is well known. Today there are
some people walking around with frames containing 0/0
Glasses are an overt sign of impaired vision. Impaired vision
happens to have a lot in common with impaired attentiveness
and listening. Since most of us wear glasses, let's try a
Take off your glasses and have a look around. See that
picture? See the folders on the shelf? Can you make out
what's written on them? Do you see the person who just walked
in? Yes, you see a person standing there, but his facial
features and expression are just a blur-- even his words are
suddenly hard to distinguish, aren't they? You feel a bit cut
off, in a fog. And you're just without your own glasses.
Imagine if you needed thick lenses!
You have an impairment. You have trouble seeing, hearing,
feeling and even concentrating. You are not focused and do
not see the world as it really looks.
You cannot know how much this resembles attention
Imagine if there were glasses to solve attention problems
just as there are glasses to solve seeing problems. Would
anyone refuse to wear them?
There are such glasses available, but in the case of
Attention Deficiency and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
parents tend to be very hesitant. They are afraid to give
them to their children out of both medical concerns and image
I seem to be beating around the bush. Perhaps I, too, have
trouble confronting this issue, but one cannot write articles
about attention deficiency without discussing one of the
major solutions to the problem.
Ritalin was developed 65 years ago, making it one of the
oldest preparations still in use (following aspirin). It
works by increasing the activity of the dopaminergic and
noradrenergic systems. And if you don't get it, that's OK. I
don't either. Tachlis, the use of this medication does
for the child's listening and attention what glasses do for
Just that. The child takes the pill and right away his mind
becomes clear. He focuses, he listens and he understands.
He also becomes his old self again--a nice, delightful child,
in control of his reactions, not squirmy and wild. Sixty-five
years of use have provided all of the necessary findings
regarding its regulation and physical effects. Medical
science claims there are no known side effects or cases of
addiction, and no physical damage is caused. But there are
some who argue with the doctors.
I have read extensive material of Ritalin opponents. They
claim it is a drug that erases brain cells, retards growth
and is detrimental in various other ways. The brochures and
organizations against Ritalin are mostly sponsored by the
Scientology cult, which preaches the avoidance of all
neurological intervention as one of its tenets.
On the other hand there are also more reliable Ritalin
opponents, primarily in the field of alternative medicine --
homeopathic healers, naturalists, etc. They have arguments
against Ritalin that are worth looking into.
Still, the majority of physicians, psychologists and
educators support Ritalin, some of them enthusiastically.
This writer has no intentions of deciding between the
proponents and the opponents. But one important message
should be conveyed: Ritalin completely solves the problems of
attention deficiency and hyperactivity.
What remains for you to determine is whether or not it causes
harm. If you investigate and reach the conclusion that it
does not have negative effects, by withholding it you
withhold your child's well-being, just like withholding
glasses from a child with blurred vision.
While researching Ritalin, one of the matters I found of
interest was the question of whether it alters the child's
personality. In my opinion, hyperactivity has an advantage
because it infuses the person with more energy than others
have, and I wouldn't want to see these energies taken away
from the child. According to all opinions, Ritalin has an
immediate, localized effect, removing obstructions to
listening and attentiveness and calming the child, which
allows him to conform to social norms.
In a 16-year survey of two groups of children, one treated
with Ritalin and the other without, 25 percent of the group
of children that did not receive Ritalin dropped out of high
school. In the other group there was only a 2 percent dropout
And another word about fears of possible repercussions, some
of which are unfounded. A package insert includes the
This medication can lead to liver damage.
This medication can lead to agrenolocitosis (toxic damage to
white blood cells).
During the course of using this medicine side effects may
occur, such as rashes, itching or dizziness. Side effects
that require special attention: diarrhea, nausea, stomach
Also stomach irritation, anaphylactic shock, cold sweat,
shortness of breath, accelerated pulse rate, leukopenia,
thrombocytopenia (manifested by increased tendency toward
bleeding), headaches, temporary disruptions of kidney
Tell me, would you take medication like this? Actually you
already do. I copied these warnings from the package inserts
for Acamol and Optalgin.
Ritalin also comes with a series of warnings. Read the
package insert carefully before use.