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Q: I have an 11 year-old boy; he was diagnosed with ADD. He does do his schoolwork, but doesn't finish it. Also, he has been put on medicine to help, but there is no change in him. However, I'm not the one with the problem; it's his teacher. He is very intelligent but doesn't want to do the work and his grades have fallen. What should I tell him and his teacher?
A: First I would rethink his school problems without relying on the ADD diagnosis as the only reason he's not doing well in school. If he was diagnosed and medicated by a professional who gives just about every intelligent, bored boy your son's age an ADD diagnosis, then I would consider calling several psychologists who specialize in academic performance areas and asking them how many kids they help without medicating them for ADD. While your son indeed may fit easily into the categories that suggest the all too popular diagnosis of ADD, I would like to see him evaluated by someone (when he is drug-free) who thinks more open-mindedly about all the possible reasons why a young boy like your son would be doing poorly in school. Having him evaluated by someone with no particular ADD ax to grind, someone who could listen to him talk about why school wasn't interesting for him, might give your son the opportunity to have someone see him as not just "another ADD kid", but as an individual with his own learning styles, his own problems being motivated by his teacher and his schoolwork and his justifiable anger at being written off as a learning disabled kid. Good luck in your search, it will be worth the effort.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.