My son is almost 12 and in the 5th grade. I retained him in the 3rd grade because of his difficulty with learning. Since kindergarten, Louis has been ëevaluatedí. He was diagnosed as perceptually impaired in first grade and diagnosed the same after his second year of third grade. In each evaluation, it was noted that he had signs of ADD. The teachers & special services have been wonderful, but we continue to experience difficulties with his lack of attention and lack of focus. In a group meeting, we agreed to have Louis evaluated by a pediatric neurologist, who works with the school system. Our appointment is tomorrow, January 5th. Of course, I am anxious about the outcome. If it is recommended that he be put on medication, how do I know Iím making the right decision, and could there be possible side effects?

 

It sounds like the school has done a reasonable job evaluating your son and offering some services. Your familyís dynamics should also be evaluated mostly for how you and his father deal with your son. Thatís not to imply his problems are your fault -- simply are your approaches most suited to his personality and temperament? Then if there are still significant problems with his performance and behavior a trial of Ritalin can be attempted. The main shortterm side effect is less appetite for lunch. If you are only using a morning and/or lunch time dose thatís about it. Sure if you try Ritalin in the evening, he wonít be able to sleep. Many children complain of stomachache or headache but the complaints are no more frequent than when children take placebo. Worries about delayed growth and tics (involuntary muscle movements) have decreased over recent years. Ritalin and the stimulants have a sixty year track record of relative safety in children. That said if one can sufficiently change a childís school or family environment (not necessarily easy tasks) enough so that medication isnít necessary, most of us would probably say thatís better for the child and family in the long run. Good luck.