Doctors in Finland are prescribing video games as an alternative to drugs like Ritalin for patients -- including countless children -- who have been diagnosed with ADHD. The concept, backed by research, involves doctors first analyzing a person's brain, discovering with parts are too active or not active enough, and then creating games for them that stimulate that part of the brain. The idea is if you spend time each day training the brain to think the right way, you can get the brain to think that way more often.
It's an out-of-the-box idea that seems too simple to be true -- but comes at a time when we desperately need it.
Even though the average age a child is diagnosed with ADHD is seven, which I still feel is very young, there are instances where preschools are actually evaluating babies as young as three and recommending that families seek a more thorough clinical evaluation of the child. Are they kidding? How many three-year-olds are able to sit still or not focus for long periods of time? Also, at that age, don't kids still differ wildly in how they learn?
Anyway, while some families experience success with behavioral modification programs and don't feel the need to medicate their children, others just can't find another way to keep their children focused in school. I don't fault them at all because, as a parent, what are you supposed to do? Are you going to sit by and watch your child fall behind in class because of something that's out of his control?
But drugs aren't the ideal or perfect solution. As someone who taught in a special education classroom, I found it heartbreaking that many of my medicated students with ADHD would be perfectly fine and focused at eight in the morning, but wouldn't be able to sit still after lunch, when the effects of their drugs began to wear off.
Many were unable to complete homework assignments after school because, by then, the drug had really lost its efficacy and, understandably, their parents weren't about to give them more drugs at night. They also didn't feel comfortable increasing their child's dosage in the morning because they wanted their children to be children, and not zombies.
It's high time researchers find a better way to treat ADHD and I really hope they make a breakthrough with video game technology. With hope, we'll be able to give meds the boot one day soon.
Do you have any experience with ADHD drugs? Are you satisfied with your child's ADHD treatment?
Image Via Kari Sullivan/Flickr