The problem with home schooling is that you are not dealing with the cause of the problem. If he is fairly young, its easier to home school. Around 5 or 6th grade the subject material - especially math becomes more difficult and thus harder to teach.
There is a lot that you can do. But I do need a bit of info.
How old is he? What grade is he in? Is he in special education or does he have a 504 plan? And I am very curious why the doctor took him off his meds? And when the doctor did this did he give you any counseling on how to help your son? What kind of a doctor did this? Most doctors (well psychiatrists) will continue to try different meds until they find one that is effective.
But to answer your question about helping him. The first thing that you can do is to learn all you can about ADD/ADHD. There is a book that will really help you. Its
"The ADD/ ADHD Answer book," by Susan Ashley. It covers everything from meds, to schools, to discipline, to helping study, etc. the list goes on and on.
Probably the most all inclusive website is - http://www.healing-arts.org/childre/ADHD/
Hope this helps.
My son is 10 almost 11 years old and he is in the 4th grade. We had a family medicine Doctor. Dr.Gassinburg took him off, because he was so use to them that it didn't effect him at all. The school distric here is so slow on the rez that it takes them over a year to go through the hoops. He is not on a 504 plan and I have been home schooling him since. When he is on his meds he does great, but while he has been off them now for a year now it is very hard for him to do anything even think. PLease help us!
Beside the book I mentioned, a very detailed book is, Sandra Rief’s "How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD". It will give you a ton of ideas for working with your son. It is a big book and covers a lot of very specific areas. If you are going to keep home schooling it will definitely help you.
However, being realistic - you are avoiding the problem. Sooner or later he is probably going to have to re-inter the public schools. You need to learn the process to get him help immediately. In Ashley's book on p.82, she gives the timelines that schools must follow if a written request is made. Basically, they have about two months. Since he has already been diagnosed, it should go fairly quickly. There is no legal way if you make a written request that they can take a year to figure things out.
And frankly, I would look for a pediatric psychiatrist. A family doctor that simply takes a child off of medication with out trying other means is a cop out. Or he was not explaining things to you. And frankly, I don't have a very high opinion of family doctors dealing with ADHD. If the med is correctly prescribed, you don't get used to it that quickly. I obviously don't know what went on, but it sure could have been handled better.
The books I have mentioned will help you a lot. But unless you have a good mathematical and scientific background - home schooling will get a lot more difficult. While I don't advocate meds, if things are not working out without them, then you have to reassess certain decisions and at least try something else.
What I am not sure about is if you can make a written request while not enrolled. I would call the school districts special education department (at the district level). Tell them that you have been getting the run around which is why you are home schooling and you feel that your rights have been or are being violated. Essentially, you don't want him to start school without having done the ground work first.
Hope some of this helps. It is going to take a bit of work on your part. But it will be worth it! Best wishes.
This may not answer your question about schooling, but have you tried natural approaches for treating ADD / ADHD? First make sure to eliminate any foods that may contain pesticides from the diet. They have been linked to ADD / ADHD. Supplements that may help are fish oil, flax seed oil, DL-phenylalanine or tyrosine, and SAM-E. Also make sure that your child is eating a balanced diet (try to eliminate processed or unhealthy foods such as sodas, sugary cereals, etc) and getting plenty of exercise. It is good that your doctors are taking him off the medication. Prescription stimulants may treat symptoms in the short-term, but in the long term they wreak havoc on the fragile dopamine system. Studies with rats at Harvard McClean University have shown that Ritalin use during juvenile years leads to depression in adulthood. This is similar to what happens to chronic users of illegal stimulants. My parents put me on Ritalin as a child. I cannot work because my depression is so disabling. You can read my story here at: www.ritalinawareness.com. I wish you and your child all the best.
Researched the study you mentioned. Very interesting.
However, the study related to "normal" children. Those without ADHD or ADD. The authors stressed the importance of knowing that your child really does have ADHD. The depressive effects were seen when normal kids were exposed to stimulants. You can read the study here. http://www.mclean.harvard.edu/news/press/current.php?id=65
I appreciate you taking a look at the study, but the problem is that they haven't tested the long term effects on the mental health of children with ADD / ADHD. And the tests done so far were done on rats not children, so your comment "The depressive effects were seen when normal kids were exposed to stimulants" is incorrect. How do we know that giving a child with ADD / ADHD ritalin will not cause them to be depressed over time? We don't because no long term studies have been done on children (with or without ADD / ADHD). All of the individuals who I know who were diagnosed with ADD / ADHD as children and did not take stimulants are all fine now. Everyone I know who was diagnosed and put on stimulants has mental health problems. Yes, they could be comorbid disorders that would have showed up anyway. The bottom line, which I think the study is illustrating, is that these are powerful drugs and the long term mental health effects should be studied. Even though these doctors are saying that these results highlight the importance of a proper diagnosis, they are still not able to give us the answers of how these drugs impact the ADD / ADHD brain long-term. How do we know that the medication won't make both normal children and children with ADD / ADHD depressed? We don't. The study is evidence that more testing needs to be done on how these drugs impact the brain long term for both ADD / ADHD individuals and individuals without the disorder.
Hey CBL welcome back!!!!
Although, we will probably have some disagreements, I totally agree with your web site about checking into other factors that can cause AD/HD symptoms. I think too many doctors (probably usually pediatricians cause they tend to be way too busy to have the time) go for the simple fix. Things like sleep apnea, allergies, toxins, etc. are definitely worth looking into.
And I do agree with you that the long term effects need more study. I mean there have been long term studies done that "found that stimulant medication reduced the risk for substance abuse by approximately half in adolescents. Teens that remained on medication during adolescence had a lower likelihood of substance use or abuse in their young-adult years."
"The ADD/ ADHD Answer book," by Susan Ashley, page 163.
But essentially, once the safety studies were done, the studies stopped. I am not aware of any follow ups after the child reached about 18. So there is a lot of unknowns. Even in your case. Ashely says that "10 to 30% of children with AD/HD are thought to have depression (p.63). And the reasons why are not linked to medication. So I would guess that the same kids - if they don't get the proper treatment (what ever that is) will continue to have depression later on in life.
What is really important is how does one deal with this depression in later life?
So I am glad to have you posting again. The ways you have learned to cope (hopefully you are successfully coping!) can really help others.
In addition to poor diet being mistaken for ADHD, so can lack of sleep which may be caused by sleep apnea. I note that ADHD is almost almost defined in terms of school performance. This can be very damaging to the child. He lives perpetually the doghouse, even though he may be a delight at home and a pal to his siblings. As a rotten student he loses his worth.
When my child received this questionable diagnosis I decided to pay no attention to it. I told them I did not care about her grades. As a result my daughter did not suffer the emotional guilt and loss of self estime. She was, in fact, a marvelously funny and mischievous child and just as clever as her three academic siblings. After puberty she suddenly became motivated. She still hated the boring school environment, but saw it as a means to an end. She was accepted by a very prestigious college and went on to an equally prestigious university for an MA where she received a fellowship.
The ADHD turned out to be sleep apnea. When it comes to diagnosis, don't rule out a mother's instincts.
The problem is that ADHD has to be going on in at least two places to be diagnosed. This means that typically the school is the other place that doctors look to. That is done to eliminate poor parenting. Theoretically, a school could complain all they want and if the parent says the kid is fine at home and in the public then the diagnosis could not be made. Having said that a school can put a lot of pressure on the parents - and many times unjustified. I still can remember an older teacher in the grade above me who had one of my ex students moved to a special ed class because she had so much trouble with him. I was really mad cause this was a great kid. The next year he is put into a gifted class. Turns out he was bored in her class and created his own fun. She couldn't deal with it. I never forgave her..
Anyway, ya - the whole diagnosis thing can go wrong. The new guidelines are more helpful, but I am sure too many people still take the easy way out.
Still, the school exerts such a strong influence that the emphasis is on scholarship. In an ideal world, doctors and therapists would examine all facets of the child's life. But if one-tenth of all boys age 10 are diagnosed as ADHD obviously this is far from an ideal world and a great many of our children are seriously harmed.
Given those statistics I would be very wary of such a diagnosis. Those medications can have serious side effects, many of which the child cannot recover from. And, let's face it, there are medical fads. No more prefrontal lobotomies - right? They have gone the way of the routine removal of tonsils. And Freud has fallen into disfavor. Indeed he has. Psychology is not a true science and is extremely fallible. Let's not forget that.
I would say that the most important thing is that if a child is not responding well to the medication, the child needs to be taken off the medication. I felt violent and angry while on the med and had bizarre thoughts. It made me feel out of it and crazy. When I told the child psychologist about what I was feeling, they diagnosed me with another disorder instead of looking at the med. I definitely agree that ADD / ADHD can be a comorbid disorder with depression. But everyone I know who was diagnosed with it as child and didn't take meds is fine now. And everyone I know who took Ritalin has a mental health issue, usually depression and anxiety. I just don't really think it's a coincidence. But maybe they were reacting badly to the med like I was and no one took them off so the med caused damage. If someone is having a bad reaction to a med and then continuing to take it, it can't be good for the brain. I actually read a different study from the Ashley one that you quoted that said that children who were on Ritalin were more likely to use cocaine and tobaccol. See excerpt below from the American Psychological Association. Also, was the study that Ashley quotes a Biederman study? He is employed by the makers of Ritalin so I would be fearful of taking any of his studies seriously.
"Recently, the media has reported that Ritalin is a possible gateway drug to other stimulants, a conclusion that stems from research by Nadine Lambert, PhD, director of the school psychology program at the University of California at Berkeley. Lambert identified a relationship between both ADHD and the use of stimulants in childhood and dependence on tobacco and other stimulants as adults. She found that half the youngsters in her study who had been treated with Ritalin had become regular smokers by age 17. Only 30 percent of those never treated smoked regularly. And 36 percent of adult cigarette smokers treated with Ritalin as children, compared with 2 percent of those who never smoked or took prescription stimulants, were dependent on cocaine as adults."
I'm so glad to hear of your daughter's achievements! That's wonderful that you followed your gut as a parent and avoided ADHD meds. Wish my parents had done the same. I was a very bright, fun kid and probably just needed time to develop social skills. I am an only child who lived on a farm so a lot of my behavioral problems could have stemmed from lack of socialization, no siblings or neighbors. I was also the youngest kid in my class and may have just needed more time to grow out of certain behaviors. Anyhow, so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well and that you found out that the actual difficulty was not ADHD.