Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > ADHD > ADHD Treatments > Why Is Ritalin Called a Stimulant?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Why Is Ritalin Called a Stimulant?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: Why are medications such as Ritalin called stimulants, if they appear to slow children down?

A: "Stimulants" are named that way because they are used to stimulate certain parts of the brain that are not acting at normal levels. For example, methylphenidate (Ritalin) is sometimes used to treat children with attention and/or hyperactive disorders, such as ADHD. It is believed that the part of the brain that controls attentiveness in these children may be underdeveloped, or not working fast enough to keep them focused. Ritalin targets this part of the brain and "stimulates" it to work at a more normal pace, so a child can concentrate and pay attention better.

A hyperactive child, who is unable to concentrate well, may actually appear calmer after using Ritalin -- he may seem to be "slowed down." However, if he is slowed down so much so that it gets in the way of his everyday activities, then his doctor may want to make a change. The doctor may decrease the amount of the medicine he is receiving or even change his prescription altogether to a different medication. Each child is treated individually and followed closely by his teachers, family, and doctor.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Earth Day Books for Children
Celebrate the environment by reading some of these great children's books about Earth Day, recycling, planting trees, and all things green!

Prom Dress Trends for 2014
Check out 2014 prom dress trends inspired by celebrities’ red carpet looks, but with a price tag under $100!