ADD/ADHD: Parent Support Groups

Coping With ADD. p.5

ADD IN THE COURTS Last year, Dr. Breeding and others successfully lobbied the Texas Board of Education to pass a resolution condemning medication and urging schools to recommend other strategies, including tutoring, phonics, and allergy testing, to solve children's behavioral difficulties. The resolution stated that "there are documented incidences of highly negative consequences in which psychiatric prescription drugs have been utilized for what are essentially discipline problems."

Colorado passed a similar resolution last year, and Connecticut just signed a law that prohibits teachers and other school officials from recommending psychiatric drugs for any child. This year legislatures in 28 other states are considering laws involving children and psychiatric medications.

In the past, says Ross, CHADD had been such a grassroots, volunteer-oriented group that it had focused on member activities and tried to avoid the vitriolic debate surrounding ADD. But Ross, who joined CHADD from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, says that will be changing. "We're going to start educating members and the public about this assault."

Deciding to put my child on medication was very difficult," says Lorna Good* of Long Island, NY, whose son, Ned*, 5, is on two medications and seeing a therapist to control his ADHD and other behavioral problems. "My child was aggressive, couldn't play with other children, would become easily overstimulated, and couldn't wind down," says Good. Initially, she felt guilty about medicating her son. But after several meetings with a pediatrician, psychologist, neurologist, and neuropsychiatrist, she changed her view: "I realized that he's a child with a disability. He needs something to help him focus and control his explosiveness so he can be a successful person."

CHADD offered Good a place where she felt her son and her decisions about his treatment were accepted. Her local chapter even has a support group just for parents of preschoolers. There, she says, "my kid is not so different. There are other parents who have children just like mine." Some CHADD parents even reach the conclusion that their children are just like themselves. According to the 2000 Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, about half of parents with ADD will have a child with ADD. While some parents were diagnosed as children, others discover they have the disorder only when their children are diagnosed.

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