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Does My Child Need ADHD Medication?
Q: My kindergartner is extremely hyperactive and impulsive. He's fine except for behavior: He can't sit still to do a lesson, he doesn't pay attention, and he can't keep his hands to himself. He cries to me that he can't think clearly and he tries to tell himself to calm down, but he can't. I'm thinking about starting him on medication, but the side effects scare me. What should I do? Will he outgrow ADHD?
A: We used to think that kids outgrew ADHD, but now we know that is rare. What might happen is that the high-activity symptoms fall away, but often they are replaced by more difficulties with inattention. It sounds like it's time to consult with a doctor about your concerns. Sometimes what looks like ADHD to the layman is developmentally appropriate behavior for a five-year-old.
You might want to consider calling the toll-free number for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) at 1-800-233-4050 or go to their website at http://www.chadd.org. They may be able to direct you to a support group where you can get a local referral. Diagnosing and treating ADHD in a five-year-old is a tricky business. You need someone who is very skilled and experienced with this age group to help you.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.