Research on children behavior

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Throughout history starting as late as the 1980s there have been research on children in behavior. In 1985, A German physician Dr. Heinrich Hoffman published a children's storybook. In his book was the first appearance and description of a child with hyperactive behavior. Dr. Hoffman explains that the the child was a fidgety pill, he wont' sit still, he wiggles, and giggles, at the dinner table, and when his father admonishes him the naught raestless child grows till more rude and wild. At the end of World War I some children brains became infected. Although the child might have surived their brain stayed damaged with a diease call Parkinson's disease and similar traits of a child that has a disability called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder known as ADHD. (Morghadam).

An American psychiatrist in 1937, Dr. Charles A. Bradley prescribed Benzedrine, a stimulant drug to emotionally disturbed children. The children responded positively. They were able to do their assignments, sit quietyly in class, and improved academically. By the 1960s and 1970s. everyone was treating school failures and disruptive behaviors with stimulant drugs. Some children improved by the drug while others regressed. Doubting scientist, educators, and parents became quite uncertain about the drug. Even today, millions of questions have been voiced concerning the complexitity of ADHD and wheter stimulant medication is the answer (Morghadam).

People mistake children behavior and label them wrong when a child is rude, disrespectful, ill mannered, not focus, wild, hyperactive, and etc. People will either put these children into a category either ADHD, ADD, or just plain bad. What people don't know is that ADHD occurs in individuals with a range of intellectual and social abilities. A child with ADHD can be diagnosed earlier in life, research is shown that ADHD is evident before the age of seven and is shown throughout a child's daily life's activities (Barkley). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a major health problem among parents, teachers, researchers and especially children. ADHD is a misunderstood disability that people continue to label children who have disruptive behavior in school and that can not stay focus this issue causes major controversial and concerns inside the educational systems because of the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD. According to American Psyciatric Association's Diagnostic and Statically manual of Mental Disorders, ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulisivity that is more extreme than would be expected for an individual of a comparable developmental level (Frakenberger and Cannon).

ADHD is the most common childhood disorders. A child with ADHD has a hard time paying attention, staying focus, fidgets a lot, can not sit still, impulsive thinking and actions, and moves from task to task with out accurate thinking. According to National Institue of Health ADHD has three main categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulisiviness. A child that show symptons of inattention disorder can be easily distracted, forgetful, move from one task to another, and can not pay attention to little details. A child that shows symptons of hyperactivity can not sit still basically. The child feels the need to move around, talk, touch and play with everything they see, needs to move, are not capable of doing well on quite tasks for example: taking a test. A child that show symptons of impulsiviness have a hard time waiting there turn, blurt out inappropriate things at the wrong time, and interrupt a conversation (National Institute of Mental Health).


Parents and educators are often told by researchers and physcians that in order to increase academic adchievemnt and reduce inappropriate behavior stimulant medication will produce the best results (Frankeberger). Ritalin (methylphenidate), Concerta (a long lasting capsule from methylphenidate), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Adderall (a mixture of amphetamines) and Cylert (pemoline) are often called "stimulant medication" (Wolff &Kutshcer). A child with ADHD feels out of control, messy, unorganized, bombarded, depress, and etc when dealing with daily tasks, homework, and school activities. Instead of a child being overwhelmed by numerous things that is happening the stimulant medications help this person to stay focus on one thing at a time and filter out all unnecessary distractions.

In the early and late 1990s Amongst all the the forms of stimulant medications used, 94 % of cases studied utilized Ritalin. (Frankenberger). Ritalin was first introduced in 1956 as methlphenidate. It is a mild central nervous system which purpose is to help the brain to respond, filter, and be more selective in various stimuli.

Doctors and other experts aren't sure of how Ritalin works on ADD/ADHD persons. However, it is known that Ritalin balances the neutrons that are in the brain to work as it should, which in turns allows the person to focus (Walker).

There are two types of Ritalin: Short-acting and sustain-release Riatlin (Ritalin-SR). Short-acting Ritalin takes effect in 20 minutes and the tablets are 5 to 20 milligrams. The stimulant medication peaks in 45 minutes to an hour and last for 3 to 4 hours. Ritalin-SR works gradually. IT lasts for 6 to 8 hours and begins within 90 minutes of taking it.

Like any medication, Ritalin and the other stimulant medications have side effects. Short-terms are increased attentivenss, energy, dry mouth, and faster heart rate and breathing. Other effects that are exhibited are excess hunger, vioilence, fatigue, depression and psychological and physical dependence. Side affects generally disapper after a short while and are reversible with dosage reduction or drug withdrawal. When the drugs wear-off at the end of the day, no lasting affects are apparent. On the contrary, DEA and other drug agencies classify Ritalin in the same category (Schedule II) as cocaine and opiates. These drugs are suitable to be the highest potentioal for addiction and abuse(Bramlett, Nelson & Reeves).

Considerable research has focused on ADHD and the effects that stimulant medication has on children with ADHD behaviors and learning styles. In 1988, Safer and Krager predicted that by the early 1990s over one million children in the United States would be receiving Ritalin for treatment of the ADHD and other forms of behavioral problems. Since the early 1990s, North America has turned to psychoactive drugs in unprecedented numbers for the control of children (Breggin). In 1993, there was a nationwide shortage of Ritalin because manufactures could not meet the demand set by the United States Drug Enfrocement Agency (DEA) (Pancher & Prater). In 1995, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an agency of the World Health Organization, deplored that "10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with Ritalin."

In 2000 a study in Virgina showed that up to 20% of white boys in the fifth grade, receiving stimulant drugs during the day. Another study from North Carolina showed that 10% of children were receiving stimulant drugs at home or at school (Breggin). With so many numbers of children on Ritalin and stimulant drugs increasing there is little concern for day to day mangament issues that teacher's face. The effectiveness of this management, not simply the prescription, will ultimately determine the long-term impact of the medication. There are two main reasons for children taking Ritalin and other stimulant medications to treat children with ADHD. Most children diagnosed with ADHD are inattentive. Interventions that increase attention to academic tasks and reduce impulsivity should provide children treated with Ritalin an opportunity to learn better and making improvement achievement rates over time. Second, children who are diagnosed with ADHD shows hyperacitivty and impulsivity. Due to these problem, the characteristics mention above may affect the child's ability to learn, as well as hinder the child's progress and the effectiveness of the classroom setting. As a result, a child is staying on task behaviors and are getting the proper knowledge needed. (Frankeberger &Cannon).

Not all children with ADHD respond to stimulant medication. In studying the effects of Ritalin on cognitivie development/functiong, studies show conflicting views. The cognitive tests used in majority of the studies were laboratory measures, including Paired-Associated Learning Task (PAL); Short-term Memory Task; Continous Performance Tests; Matching Familiar Figrues Tests; or Raven's Coloured Progress matrices Test (Alto & Frankenberger; Frankenberger & Cannon). Campbell (1976) suggested that stimulant drug therapy had little impact on cognitive abilities, such as reasoning, problem solving, and learning. Barkley suggested that stimulant drug therapy did not produce significant changes in basic intellectual or cognitive abilities. Abilkoff and Gittelman in a 16-week study that concluded cognitive training along with stimulant medication did not find an improvement in cognitive functioning as a result of medication. Expert Russell Barkley, professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Univeristy of Massachusetts Medical Ceneter, studies show that elementary children with ADHD scored seven to ten poings lower on intelligence test (Chamberlain). Conversely, Kupietz, Winsberg, Martinsky& Mendall observed improved cognitive performances on the PAL after weeks. Their 6-month study reveled that errors decreased on the PAL when treatment included remedial reading instruction and stimulant drug treatment (Alto &Frankenberger, 1995, pg. 206). Kupitez concluded that the medication in reducing the reading disability deficits. In comprehensive reviews of 84 studies, Kapport& Kelly also found that stimulant medication frequently improved cognitive functioning in children. Balthazor, Wagner, and Pelham founded that responses to the letter-making stimuli were faster and more accurate with medication compared to placebo. The improvement in performance was isolated to the parameter estimate that reflected nonspecific aspects of information processing. Overall, research examing the effects of Ritalin on laboratory tasks and other forms of testing to be inconclusive. Whether cognitive ability tests given in the schools demonstrate increased performance also remains unknown (Alto&Frankenberger) .

Just as cognitive development and functioning, inclusive results have been reported for academic achievement. Barkley and Cunningham's review of the literature provided little support for the idea that stimulant medication had consistent positive effects on academic achievement test scores. They suggested that the effects of Ritalin were most effective for controlling hyperactive classroom behaviors on a short term basis. Satterfield and Cantwell conducted a two-year study and reported positive effects of Ritalin on academic achievement. However, this study's pre and post treatment evaluation conditions were not similar and they failed to include a placebo control group (Alto & Frankenberg). In addition study, Charles and Schain (1981) conducted a 16 week and four year follow up study of a group of stimulant medicated hyperactive children. After 4 years, 81% of the children were no longer taking Ritalin. The researcher found deficits in several academic areas: teacher reports, failed grades, and scores on the Wide Range Achievement Test (Dunn & Marwart). Some beneficial effects of Ritalin occurred within the first months of treatment; on the contrary the affects on the long-term academic achievement could not be determined.

6 to 9 percent of school-aged children with ADHD exhibit reading difficulities; several studies have been researched to view how Ritalin effects reading achievement (Pullen). Many children with ADHD display deficits in reading abilities before and after being placed on Ritalin. Aman and Werry found no evidence to support short or long term effects of Ritalin on reading skills or achievement. A recent study done by Pullen indicates that Ritalin has no effect on the short-term memory and phonological process required for reading. ON the other hand, Gittleman, Klein, and Ferngold reported some success on reading achievement. But, the long-term effects were unclear and not significant. Richardson, Kupietz, and Martinksy found positive effects of Ritalin on reading achievement. They suggest that this improvement was related to the degree of reduction of negative behaviors associated with ADHD (Frankenberger & Cannon).

A study investigated the effects of Ritalin on the academic achievement of 22 children with ADHD compared to 22 control children. Their results indicated that Ritalin did not appear to improve academic achievement even after 1 to 2 years of treatment. They found that AdHD children tended to be poorer readers both before and after they were placed on Ritalin. Interestingly, the ADHD subjects experienced a significant drop in Math, Reading, Listening, and overall achievement the year prior to receiving Ritalin. This drop occurred most often between first and second grade. However, after being placed on Ritalin, no further drop in achievement scores were observed. Their findings suggest that Ritalin did not result in significant increased in the children's academic achievement. Rather, the initial drops in achievement established somewhat after recieiving the stimulant medication (Alto & Frankenberger, Frankenberger & Cannon).

One-third to one-half of referrals for children are because of restlessness, an inability to concentrate being easily distracted, trouble following directions, and constant fidgeting and excessive talking (Chamberline, 2000). ADHD affects behaviors consistly. Researchers have examined stimulant medication on the behavior of children both alone and in communication with different types of behavioral interventions. Chase and Clement found that self-reinforcement works better than Ritalin. In that case it studied the combination and alone effects of Ritalin and self-reinforcement. The results revealed that the combination of the two was the most effective on daily measures of academic performace, which was measured by the number of accurately completed answers to reading questions. A study by Pelham assessed also a combine and alone effects of Ritalin and intervention on boys. It was found that positive efforts on ratings of classroom behavior and measures of academic performance with both interventions. ON the contrary in 1999, a study was done by ABD news, used 600 7 to 9 year olds from 6 different states across United States. After 14 months of treatment, 12 to 15 percent of children on Ritalin still had behavior problems. (Frankenberger and Cannon)