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Would ADHD Medication Help Keep LD Son on Task?

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: In first grade, my ninth-grader was tested for ADHD. He was diagnosed with learning disabilities, but not ADHD. It's been tough, but he's come a very long way and has done really well until now. He's at a very large high school and is struggling to survive. At a recent review, a school psychologist suggested that maybe he's overwhelmed with the tougher, more in-depth classes, ninth-grade changes, and so forth. I hadn't thought of him as being so overwhelmed that he feels like he can't do it, so why try.

Even though my son doesn't have ADHD, he does have problems focusing, concentrating, and staying on task. Would he benefit from any of the ADHD medicines, and if so, is there a natural alternative? I would try just about anything to help him, but I don't want to put him on any drugs.

A: It certainly sounds like it would be worth your while to contact a doctor who deals with teenagers with ADHD and discuss options available to you. I'd call CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) at 1-800-233-4050 or go to their website at www.chadd.org for a referral in your community. There are behavioral interventions that may help your son, but unfortunately I have not seen research supports for natural alternatives to drugs.

You might also want to have a look at a really useful book designed to help students learn how to learn: Study Strategies Made Easy: A Practical Plan for School Success by Leslie Davis, Sandi Sirotowitz, and Harvey C. Parker.

More on: Expert Advice

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.


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