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Son May Have ADHD

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My son excels in all academic subjects when working at home, but doesn't do well in school. He helps other kids with their homework, yet won't finish his own. He's always in trouble at school. His teacher says he might have ADHD and suggested putting him on medication. My son says he's just bored and that he hates school. I'll admit that he does show signs of having ADHD, but only when he's in school. If that's the problem, wouldn't he exhibit these symptoms at home and at school?

A: Your son's school system has no business telling you that your son needs to be put on medication. ADHD is dramatically misdiagnosed in this country, as is the prescription of amphetamine-like drugs for its treatment. I am very disappointed in these educators. ADHD, if that's your son's diagnosis, is not a situational set of symptoms, meaning that a child has ADHD in school but nowhere else.

Your son may be bored and he also may have some learning problems. Educators tend to blame kids for being bored, as opposed to figuring out how to stimulate their interests in academics. Rather than speculate about ADHD, learning difficulties, or boredom as the causes for your son's poor performance in school, he needs to have a comprehensive evaluation. Given the teacher's concerns, he certainly would be eligible for a CORE evaluation to determine what the issues are regarding his academic problems. Such evaluations are a student's right, as guaranteed by the law. You certainly could get a baseline evaluation about your son's fundamental knowledge in his academic subjects by having him see a talented tutor a few times. One-on-one time with a creative tutor often yields answers to a child's ongoing academic difficulties. Please engage the school authorities in evaluating your son appropriately.

A child therapist might also come up with some vital information after just a couple of sessions with your son -- sessions where he feels he has a comfortable forum in which to have his ideas and opinions respected. Please don't just medicate him without first exploring the reasons for his academic problems.

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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.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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