Documentary: The Medicated Child

Terry Matlen, ACSW Health Guide January 09, 2008
  • As I mentioned in my last post, PBS aired a documentary, "The Medicated Child" and I was pretty worried about how the producers were going to profile the whole issue of medicating children with neurological/psychiatric disorders and brain illnesses. Though the focus was more on pediatric bipolar disease than on ADHD, it still appealed to those of us who have children with ADHD because medication is such a huge part of treatment.

     

    What did I think of the show?

    First, it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. Second, it could have been better. Let me explain...

     

    They did acknowledge that there is still much to learn (about pediatric bipolar disease) and they did show both sides of the medication issue, but it bothered me that there was still doubt as to whether pediatric bipolar exists. There was an over-focus, too, on the amount of meds some kids are being prescribed. No doubt, that is sometimes the case. But what about the many- possibly majority- of kids with ADHD who are faring well with using only one medication? I would have liked to have seen profiles of more children who are soaring, who are excelling in school and socially, because they are properly medicated.

     

    Some of the doctors profiled were passionate about learning more about these disorders; I was very impressed with Dr. Kiki Chang. I was disappointed that Dr. Joe Biederman declined to speak; he is a pioneer in the field of ADHD and other childhood disorders.

     

    Did I learn anything new by watching this show? No. Am I concerned that parents will become anxious about using medications for their child's ADHD and other disorders? Yes. However, the show did raise awareness and if that means motivating parents to ask their doctors more about options, then in my book, that is a good thing. Still, there was a sense of drama and negativity about using medications and that, again, is the media's way of firing up and drawing in viewers.