My Child’s School Is Demanding I Put My Child on ADHD Medication – What Should I Do?

Children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently require behavior modification strategies and at times ADHD medications. A common issue as a child transitions from summer and back to school is the school teacher or counselor sending home a letter to the parents suggesting the child be seen for an evaluation of ADHD. Many times teachers are under the impression that if the child just gets ADHD meds in their system, then their academic difficulties will be resolved. At times the child may simply need assistance adjusting to the classroom structure having spent more carefree months in summer.

The most complicated problem surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD is that ADHD can be misdiagnosed for other conditions. If a child is demonstrating the typical ADD symptoms or ADD symptoms, teachers naturally suspect an unconfirmed diagnosis of ADHD. Children that are easily distracted encounter difficulties staying focused on the assignment instructions, and those who appear to be staring off into space are typically suspected of having ADHD. So what do parents do when the school sends home a letter demanding the child seek treatment for ADHD and the teacher is suggesting medications? Most parents are naturally disturbed and unsure of their options when they receive notification about their child and the suggestion of medication.

The first recommendation is to contact the school and request a conference with the primary teacher or groups of teachers that are involved with your child. Ask these teachers to explain to you what they are seeing, what strategies they have used to attempt to resolve the problem, and do not be afraid to get the school counselor and principal involved during this process. If there are domestic problems going on at home, this may significantly affect your child’s academic performance and function as a major distraction from concentration. If there has recently been a death in the family or a divorce, these are all very likely reasons why your child is having trouble in school.

Explain to the teachers, counselor, and principal the exact nature of your situation if this fits your scenario. If there is nothing out of the ordinary going on at home, ask the school to conduct a formal observation prior to seeing your physician for evaluation. A formal observation and assessment for special needs is not only critical information to assist your doctor in a proper diagnosis, it may uncover a learning disability or that your child is not adequately challenged academically.

If your child has a learning disability the school should address with additional support. If your child is not academically challenged the school will modify curriculum. Either being over or under challenged can lead to ADD or ADHD like behaviors.

The school cannot force you to put your child on ADHD meds. Even if you physician indicates that your child has a few of the most common ADD symptoms or ADHD symptoms, this does not automatically mean that you must put your child on ADHD medications as the solution. Consider after school tutoring to receive that one-on-one attention to cover academic areas that have become problematic. Simply involve the child in a meeting with the teacher and ask the child for honest reasons why he or she is not paying attention in class. Chances are the topic may not be interesting and the child has become bored with the subject. If the teacher is presenting the information in a manner that does not captivate the student’s interest, it is not uncommon for children’s attention span to drift off. Inquire if other children in the class that are having similar problems or is it just your child.

Another situation that emerges is how some children with a confirmed diagnosis of ADD or ADHD stop taking their ADHD medications over the summer. The problem with taking a break from the ADHD medications is that the medication may require several weeks to build up in your system before it is effective. Starting the medication the day school resumes is not going to work as planned. The teacher may begin to complain that he or she is spending a high percentage of their time working with one child. This becomes problematic because the teacher begins feeling like the other children’s needs are not being met because of one child. Parents with children that do have a confirmed diagnosis of ADD or ADHD should keep their children on the ADHD meds according to the specific directions of their physician. The school cannot force parents to put their child on ADHD medications or ask them to get the dosage increased through the physician.

If your child does in fact require a lot of one-on-one attention most schools have tutoring and title I services available to provide that individual attention. Many parents have reportedly refused to place their child on ADHD medications for a number of reasons. Side effects of medications can include loss of appetite, difficulty falling asleep, stunted growth and inhibiting behavior in a zombie like way.

Some parents have strong personal beliefs about medicating the child as a convenience to the teacher. The child is the person that needs to benefit from the medication, not necessarily the teacher. If there is a significant discrepancy between your belief system, the school’s request, and the physician’s recommendations, get more people involved to help the situation. Consider the additional outside consultation of perhaps a psychologist specializing in ADHD or a neurofeedback specialist to evaluate for additional conditions that may be interfering with your child’s ability to pay attention in class. Some learning disabilities and hearing problems may mimic the ADHD symptoms. Be certain to have your child evaluated for all of these potential problems and do not be afraid to obtain a second or third professional opinion.

Many parents have sought out non medication solutions including counseling, behavior modification and neurofeedback training. Many times these approaches coupled with academic modifications a willing teacher and strong parental involvement will lead to success.

Source by Domenic Greco, PhD

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