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Medications for ADD and Gifted
Q: My fifth-grader has just been diagnosed as ADD. Although we were constantly getting notes this past year about his inability to stay focused, stay on task, get organized, and follow directions, he still made A's and B's in his GT class. We want him to be able to do the best he can, but we're worried about putting him on drugs. His teachers and even the GT coordinator of the school district say he can do even better with medication. What would you advise?
A: I think you should definitely check out these two books: Driven to Distraction and Beyond Ritalin. The first is a very good basic resource on ADHD and has many good recommendations for parents and teachers. Medication is part of the authors' approach. The second book is about choosing means other than traditional medication approaches to treat attention deficit disorders.
I am on the middle path of this controversy. I have seen low doses of stimulant medication do wonders for some kids. It has helped them to pay attention long enough to learn methods of organization and skill-building. I have also seen some kids not adjust to the medication -- they can become too emotional. Older gifted college students have reported that their creative thinking has been compromised temporarily when they are on the medication.
No matter which path you choose, counseling for you and your child can help you deal with this disorder and manage it effectively without letting it "manage" you. Good luck.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.