I am looking for advise on how to handle a current situation occurring within the school which my 8 year old son attends. We live in rural Pa. and last year my son was diagnosed ADD. The doctor prescribed Ritalin and the teachers claimed to see an improvement in the class however during the summer months I opted to take him off Ritalin because I did not see any difference. The start of the new school year came and my son came home from school one day and ate an entire pack of Rolaids.(I found the empty wrapper). I asked him why he would do such a thin and he said that his guidance councilor had told him that he would need to take pills again this year so he thought he would take them himself.

As you can imagine, I was really upset and told the counselor what had happened and that she should be talking to me, not my child. I told her that we were lucky that it was only Rolaids and she seemed to take the matter rather lightly. The teachers called me in for a conference and we discussed the possibility of using Ritalin again however the reason they wanted him to take the Ritalin was because my son would not conform and had occasion to sit under his desk after completing his work. I decided on my own that this was not cause enough to start pilling him and I would wait until report card time to consider. 

Report cards came and to my delight and surprise, my son had all As and one B. The teachers kept hounding me about giving my son meds so I tried a little experiment..... I gave my son a different vitamin every morning and told them that I was giving Ritalin, to my surprise they responded that my son was much improved with the medication. A few months later, the teachers said that my son required a second afternoon dose because when he was coming off the morning dose he was getting fidgety and sitting under his desk again. I told them that I would discuss this with his doctor at our next visit.

At this point, the teachers are now telling him that he needs to take more meds and that he should tell his mommy, I am beside myself with fear that he will try to medicate himself again and have told the teachers that they are not to discuss this with my son at all. I ran out of vitamins last week and my son nearly had a nervous breakdown because he said his teachers will be mad that he did not take his pill, he cried all morning before going to school because he said he needs this pill to behave for his teachers and that they will really be mad.

At this point I realize that I am participating in a rather sick mindset re: this issue of pilling and that I am teaching my child to be dependent on drugs to alter or help him, his behavior, his state of mind.....in this world of prevalent drug abuse.

Yesterday the principle approached my son in the cafeteria asking if he had seen the doctor yet and my son tells me that every day both of his teachers ask him if he took his pill. I honestly donít know how to handle the situation at this point because the teachers and counselors make me feel as though I am neglectful if I do not give my child Ritalin, my thought is that yes, my son is very active however he is not disruptive nor aggressive and the worst he has done so far is sit under his desk. The other complaint I am hearing from his teacher now is that he is asking too many questions and constantly asking for her help and that she wants him to work more independently. My feeling is that at least he is paying attention and is taking an interest in the class.

I also want to add that my husband and the father of my son was killed in a car accident 3 years ago and being a single parent is difficult enough without the added pressure from the school to drug my very active high spirited child just to keep the teachers happy. It upsets me greatly that they would even discuss any aspect of taking medication with my child and to be honest I am truly considering filing a lawsuit to put an end to this unprofessional behavior that could be life threatening to other children who perhaps donít have a good line of communication with their parents.

I would be interested in your view of my situation as I cannot see this objectively it is hard to type the entire story, I have left out some details for fear I will be typing for days but I really would appreciate your opinion. Thank You.

Thank you for offering your homepage to desperate parents who are meeting this challenge. For 3 years now, my 9 year old son has been having the classic symptoms of ADD. During our last Parent - Teacher interview, the teacher once again suggested taking him to the MD for Ritalin. We have tried behavioral management strategies, but she claims that she is not getting the desired outcome. The Internet is full of information, but I an looking specifically for information about diet nutrition modification as an approach. A recent allergy test showed my son was allergic to dust only. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you

I wish I could be more helpful. There isnít much "evidence" for diet and allergy causes and treatments for ADHD. There appears to be some effects on children under five with articial additives (especially food coloring). Otherwise studies haven't panned out. There are some good studies demonstrating no effect on behavior with refined sugars but many people still believe sugar affects behavior. You may want to check out a book I refer to in Running on Ritalin by Ingersoll and Goldstein on alternative treatments.

Behavior wise make sure your reinforcers are as immediate as possible with your son and don't shy away from short term immediate punishments: they are reinforcers also, and as long as you're not always punishing and he responds, then it is worth the negative input. If you've "tried everything" including having your parenting and family assessed by a doctor (that's not blaming you - these children can be very hard to raise) then you may want to have your son experience a trial of Ritalin. It seems reasonable if you've tried other strategies.

I wish I could be more helpful.