The Public Interest

Ritalin: miracle drug or cop-out?

Ken Livingston

Spring 1997

IMAGINE yourself sitting in a classroom—say, a fourth-grade social-studies class. There is a teacher at the front of the room, but a groundskeeper mowing grass outside captures your attention instead. When the mower moves away, however, you feel bored and restless. Pretty soon your swinging feet slam into the seat in front o£ you.  The attentive student sitting there yelps and the teacher interrupts the class to ask what the problem is. This sudden activity jolts you back into focus; at least something interesting is happening. You’re beyond feeling embarrassed about being the center of this kind of attention. It happens all the time, and you have quite a reputation for this sort of thing.  And besides, it isn’t really your fault. They all say you probably have ADD or ADHD or something like that and can’t help but act this way. It’s just the way life is for some kids. 

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