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Long-Term Effects of Ritalin®?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My gifted child has made a dramatic improvement on Ritalin®. However, we're concerned about long-term effects. Can you steer us to any studies?

A: This is a complex question. I am often skeptical of drug studies, because unless they are conducted by completely independent researchers, you may be getting results that were funded by the drug's manufacturer. There is a lot of data for you to wade through as a parent. When I went to an online bookstore, there were over 300 books for parents to choose from on this one topic!

I can tell you that Ritalin has been around for a very long time. Studies on long-term use are still being done because the early patients are now grown up. There are other medications besides Ritalin that also are effective for children with this disorder. Many professionals believe that gifted kids have been overdiagnosed with ADHD due to their tendency to daydream, change focus, be physically sensitive, and so on. I will recommend three books that I have found helpful for parents:
1) Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids by Dr. Timothy Wilens
2) Driven to Distraction by Drs. Hallowell & Ratey
3) Beyond Ritalin by Garber, Garber, and Spizman.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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