|Another, more recent article on Ritalin from the New York Times.|
Drug is Another Part of School
Readin', Writin' and Ritalin
We have a lot of kids on heavy duty medication. I hope it slows down. I don't like the quick fix.
Florine LaPointe, school nurse
The Associated Press
K E N N E B U N K, Maine, Oct. 27 Like a small herd of buffalo, the five children charged into the office of school nurse Florine LaPointe, fussing and fidgeting, vying to be the center of attention.
LaPointe, used to this wiggly bunch, calmly hands out cups of water and each child gulps down a pill, tosses the cups and rushes out to recess.
The students at the Sea Road Elementary School don't come to LaPointe for Band-Aids, aspirin or a sick call home to mom. Every day at noon, they get their Ritalin.
The scene is the same in schools across the country. Ritalin, prescribed to help children with attention and hyperactivity disorders, has turned many nurses into case managers.
Melissa Cash, a nurse at the Academy at Robinson in Akron, Ohio, said she handed out medicine to only a handful of children when she started her job seven years ago. Now she has to make sure almost 35 students receive their prescription drugs daily, mostly for asthma inhalers and Ritalin.
At Sea Road, 23 of the 450 students take Ritalin. Others take psychotropic drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft to control depression or obsessive compulsive disorders.
"We have a lot of kids on heavy duty medication," LaPointe said. "I hope it slows down. I don't like the quick fix."
Although critics have suggested that Ritalin is overprescribed for children, a study last December found that doctors use about 2½ times more Ritalin for hyperactive and inattentive children than in 1990a much smaller increase than feared.
The research, reported in the December issue of Pediatrics, said some 1.5 million young people ages 5 through 18, or 2.8 percent of the nation's school-age children, take the drug.
The National Association of School Nurses, based in Scarborough, Maine, said the number is more like 3 million.
"This really is a very common problem in American schools affecting a lot of children," said Doris Luckenbill, the association president. "Almost every teacher in the world has a child in his or her classroom with this problem."
A Mass of
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