Ritalin has created a demand for ADD

Regarding your Feb. 28 editorial "Drugging Toddlers": The criteria for children being diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder (ADD) include activities such as fidgeting, distraction, impatience, losin g things, interrupting and ignoring adults, to name a few. Ritalin, in short, is a cure for childhood. We are drugging our children simply because they are behaving like children.

Why? There is money in it. Experts who certify new disorders receive extravagant annual retainers from pharmaceutical companies that profit from the promotion of disorders treatable by the companies' medications.

In addition, the Supplemental Security Income program hands out cash to low-income parents whose children are diagnosed as having ADD - which the government accepts as a learning disability. And hundreds of dollars in special-education grant money is awarded to schools each year by the Department of Education for each child diagnosed.

Since the government began funding schools and families for ADD kids, Ritalin sales have tripled. Before these programs, growth in ADD diagnoses were flat.

Daniel Sobieski Chicago

Drugging toddlers points to a very disturbing phenomenon. Your editorial presents some excellent advice on what should be done to counter this alarming drugging of "problem" children. There are other underlying causes that should not be overlooked.

Families have weakened because Hollywood has been promoting couples living together, rather than committing to marriage, for the last two generations. In addition, American society has become increasingly materialistic. A consumer society may be good for the economy, but it puts pressure on mothers to drop their children at day care so they can work instead of mothering their children at home. A roaring economy and two-wage-earner families may be good for the tax collector, but not good for children.

Rather than "liberating" women, 40 years of liberalism has frayed the fabric of society in many ways. The use of Ritalin in toddlers is just another unintended consequence.

Mona Estrada Santa Rosa, Calif.

Children burden childless adults too

Regarding your review of "The Baby Boon" (Feb. 2): I (and my childless friends) feel increasing frustration at the benefits American society lavishes on those who have children. Every time the issue of tax cuts is raised, they are targeted to people with children. Meanwhile, my childless friends and I file EZ tax forms every year, realizing no benefits whatsoever.

Tax breaks aren't the only issue. The company I work for encourages the participation of spouses and children of employees in company activities while not allowing single employees to invite a guest. My co-workers and I are currently struggling to cover the work of an absent new mother.

Childless people don't begrudge parents the joys of their chosen path, we'd just like the same consideration. The high cost of living impacts us, too. It's challenge enough to pay our own way, without being forced to pay for other peoples' choices. If the playing field isn't leveled soon, there will be a revolt - a colossal one.

Rebecca Raether Madison, Wis.

What makes a good musician

Your Feb. 25 article "Joni Mitchell's new look at 'Both Sides Now' " was very refreshing. The music industry has become incredibly commercialized. Far too often a hit album consists mainly of a pretty face with an untrained voice singing bubble-gum lyrics. Thank you for acknowledging that some musicians worry more about their musicianship than muscles or miniskirts.

Marie-Ange Ingoldsby Rexburg, Idaho

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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