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Does Fidgety = ADD?

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

Q: Our son, first grade, going on seven years old, is having problems with his behavior at school. His teacher says he is constantly fidgeting, talking, and playing. He is easily distracted, and interrupts others right after being told not to. He rushes through his work making careless mistakes without thinking about them. He also has a hard time remaining seated when required to.

On the other hand she said he is bright. He is learning what is required of him with no problem. I don't think the problem is that he is too smart for his class nor does he need to be held back. He just has trouble sitting still. The school staff and I are thinking "A.D.D" or "A.D.H.D."

We have scheduled an appointment with a children's therapist in a week, but I was hoping you could give us some input on the matter.

A: Unfortunately, these days too many professionals, parents and teachers immediately lean toward a diagnosis of ADD and/or ADHD when a child exhibits the very characteristics your son is exhibiting. We have all become very intolerant and impatient with behavior that does not comply with the expected normative patterns we adults want to have. We don't suggest medical solutions like drugs for little kids who never make a sound and are profoundly shy but we do jump to medicate kids whose annoying characteristics can be medicated away.

I would implore you to at least have your boy evaluated by a talented therapist who does not routinely prescribe drugs as a response to these current behavioral characteristics. Read psychiatrist Peter Breggin's book, "The War on Children" to give yourself a broad background in the arena of ADD and ADHD. Remember, your first duty is not to any teacher's needs for compliance from your son, it's to the health and well-being of your little boy. There are other approaches other than drugging away your son's inappropriate social school behavior and antsiness.

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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 FamilyEducation.com 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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