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ADHD, Medication Changes, and Hospitalization
Q: The doctor that works with my son and his ADHD wants to put him in the inpatient facility for a week to regulate his medication. He's violent at school -- the children taunt and ridicule him so badly that he's just numb to it all. He cries when he comes home and begs me not to take him back. He began Risperdal 6 days ago. He lasted at school 30 minutes before I got a page.
I'm afraid to tell the doctor that things aren't working. She stated: "This time I can regulate, but the next time, the change in medication will have to be made as an inpatient."
People are not in my camp about this. I cry all day. I know what's wrong but feel that -- I don't know what I feel. I'm also a critical-care nurse intern close to graduation. I spent an entire semester in the milieu where she wants to put him. I would rather go underground. Please help me.
A: Ask the psychiatrist who is prescribing the medication to go to the school to do an observation. Have him or her meet with the other people at the school to analyze not only your son's behavior but also the actions and reactions of the other kids and the teachers. Ask the head of the school psychology program or the director of special education to get involved. Find out if there is something called a "therapeutic classroom," or other place your son can go to be protected from the taunts of the other children, and where he can be educated by someone who understands children with emotional difficulties.
If your son is so upset that school appears to be toxic for him, then let him go to the hospital. Ask the professionals there to not only assess the effectiveness of your son's medication, but also to visit the program that he is now in, before he is allowed to leave the hospital to return to school. If this is deemed not to be an appropriate program, ask them to recommend one that is.
You need to get your son into an environment that is safe, where he can get the emotional support he needs. You also need a program that will help you deal with the feelings that this unfortunate experience is generating in you. Connect with family members and friends. Call your clergy-person. Tell them what you and your son are going through and ask them for their support.
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.