My son’s school teacher says he’s hyperactive. The school suggests we look into giving him Ritalin. I say no. Are there any alternatives?
Definitely. Before you even consider medication, make sure that the diagnosis is correct. All that wiggles and is inattentive is not necessarily attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Have your child evaluated by his pediatrician. The evaluation should consider whether your son has other behaviors that masquerade as ADHD and if he has a learning disability, anxiety or depression.
If your son does have ADHD, most experts now recommend “multimodal” therapy: education and behavioral interventions, medication (if appropriate), and individual and/or family counseling (if appropriate). Having parents, teachers, physicians and psychologists working together will help to ensure successful outcomes in all areas of your son’s life.
Structuring your son’s environment is important. Children with ADHD need predictable routines and assistance with organization and planning. For a young child like your son, seats close to the teacher and away from distractions can be very helpful. Look for teachers who incorporate vision (reading), hearing (listening) and movement, because they’re often more successful than those who rely on only listening and reading. Also, be wary of “alternative” treatments, like special sugar-free diets. Sugar has not been shown to cause hyperactivity.