Child Development Professor, Alan Sroufe, States: Childrens ADD Drugs Do not Work Long Term

Posted on Monday, February 20, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Children today are misdiagnosed and over-medicated at an alarming rate. Oftentimes the symptoms for which they are being diagnosed include symptoms of stress, anxiety and an inability to focus. Rather than treating children with a medication, these conditions may well be more effectively and safely treated by addressing lifestyle habits – those taught in the tradition of yoga.

Alan Sroufe, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development (and one of my former professors), wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday Review on January 29, 2012 titled Ritalin Gone Wrong. In it he states that when Ritalin, Adderall and other drugs prescribed for trouble focusing are “given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth.”

He goes on to debunk the notion that ADD is “a brain problem of genetic or otherwise inborn origin.” This was thought to be true back in the 60s and 70s when these issues started to appear in children with increasing frequency. He states in this article, “It turns out, however, that there is little to no evidence to support this theory.”

Most of the research published on these drugs does indeed show a significant increase in focus in the short term – for about 6 to 8 weeks.

The Institute of Child Development at The University of Minnesota is known for its long-term studies on children. In this article, Sroufe describes one they have been running since 1975. He reports, “What we found was that the environment of the child predicted development of A.D.D. problems.”

He goes on to state that “One of the most profound findings in behavioral neuroscience in recent years has been the clear evidence that the developing brain is shaped by experience.”

Drugs don’t address the environment. Lifestyle training does.
This is something the practice of yoga addresses. It shapes our view and attitudes through strengthening and focusing the mind. Specific techniques include mudras, mantras and meditation. Yoga also addresses attitudes and beliefs as well as lifestyle considerations of diet, sleep habits, communication styles, etc.

Family Yoga achieves this in the context of all members learning together how to self-regulate and reduce stress. Ultimately, the practice of yoga helps us develop personal responsibility and healthy habits that last a lifetime. This goes a long way toward creating an environment in which the brain can develop and function optimally.


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