Desde os anos 70, a professora Denise D

Risk of indiscriminate medication for attention deficit worries

Guilherme Tavares

Since the 70s, Professor Denise D’Incao has researched, published and worked with psychomotricity in students with concentration and learning difficulties.

The risks of indiscriminate medication for students with attention problems in the classroom have been a growing concern for specialists in both medicine and pedagogy. The fear is due to the use of drugs such as Ritalin, the commercial name of methylphenidate, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and is indicated to treat patients diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In cases of difficulty concentrating, especially in children, it is necessary, according to experts heard by the JC, to try, first, non-drug treatments, such as neuropsychological, cognitive, motor and psychic training. “It is a controversial subject, but it is the obligation of any educator or school to be aware of it”, defends Denise D’Incao, Philosophy professor at the D’Incao Teaching Institute and a specialist in Psychomotricity.

Popularly called the ‘intelligence pill’, methylphenidate promises to increase concentration and, therefore, has become known by pre-university students and concurseiros. However, it can have serious side effects.

In Brazil, a study published in the Pharmacoepidemiology Bulletin of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) shows that the consumption of the drug among children aged 6 to 16 years increased by 8.33% across the country between 2009 and 2011. However, some states showed an explosion in use, such as Bahia, which recorded growth of 1,457.05% in the period (read more below).


The indiscriminate use of the drug, without there being a disease to be treated, can cause psychosis, anxiety and symptoms similar to schizophrenia, points out neurologist Igor de Lima e Teixeira, who has a master’s degree in Neurology and Neurosciences at the Escola Paulista de Medicina (EPM) at the Federal University. of São Paulo (Unifesp).

“It is expected that children pass the year, and not that the person takes care of the elements that are hindering school performance”, complements teacher Denise D’Incao, who, since the 1970s, has researched, published and worked with psychomotricity in students with concentration and learning difficulties. She argues that many cases of lack of attention in the classroom are pedagogical problems and, therefore, it is not necessary to resort to medication first.

A pupil of Simone Ramain – one of the exponents of psychomotricity -, Denise applies the technique using various exercises to stimulate body and mind, ranging from motor training to drawings and intellectual challenges. “You have to require training carefully. For example, with a simple finger movement exercise, we are asking for an effort of internalized attention in all areas.”


“Medication treatment in ADHD is always necessary when there is no satisfactory improvement in non-pharmacological ones, through neuropsychological assessments and training. What happens is that the treatment of the disorder, when started by a doctor who is not a specialist, ends up being, in most of the time, very focused on the medicines”, argues Igor Teixeira.

For him, teachers and parents have an essential role for an accurate diagnosis. “In addition to minimizing errors, it helps in the treatment, because, as they become aware of the problem, they end up contributing better to the prognosis”.

In cases where the child needs to take some medication, the specialist defends the application of techniques as adjuncts. “One should always try measures such as establishing routines, counseling with a psychologist, neuropsychological training and some adaptations in school life”, he concludes.

Study suggests greater consumption of drugs during school months

A study published in the Pharmacoepidemiology Bulletin of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) points to an increase in the consumption of methylphenidate in the country in the triennium researched. However, the reduction during school holidays calls attention.

The analyzed data were extracted from the National Controlled Products Management System (SNGPC). In the period from 2009 to 2011, there was a general growth of 8.33% in the average consumption of methylphenidate among children aged 6 to 16 years across the country. However, states such as Bahia registered an increase of 1,457.05%. In São Paulo, the increase was 111.89%.

As the article points out, between February and June and, mainly, from August to November, an average growth in drug consumption is observed. However, during the months of January, July and December, precisely those corresponding to school holidays, usage drops.

“Methylphenidate has been widely disseminated in recent years as a ‘obedience drug’ and an instrument to improve the performance of children, adolescents or adults. In fact, the drug should work as an adjuvant in establishing the individual’s behavioral balance, combined with other measures, such as educational, social and psychological”, the researchers conclude in the article.

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