School Wants Child to Take Stimulant Medication for ADHD; Alternatives Exist

School wants ADHD child to take stimulant medication. Parents fearful because of son's previous reaction to stimulants. Alternatives exist. A school can't require child to take stimulant medication.

Comments from the NEUROLOGIST, 

John, a 9-year-old 4th grade boy, and his dad come into the office because the teacher asked the boy's parents to start ADHD stimulant medications A.S.A.P. The teacher said he blurts things out in class and sometimes interrupts other kids answering the teacher’s questions.

Dad remembers that in 2nd and 3rd grade, his teacher said he was constantly getting up from his seat, and going to get something in back of the room. She would ask him to keep his seat, and he would listen to her, but in 15 minutes, he would be up to get something again. He is sometimes anxious and his dad points out that stimulants can increase anxiety. This is true for some patients. But he is starting to have negative comments on his report cards, and we have to find a way to stop this before it worsens.

If his teacher was not writing negative comments, I would advise let’s have the ADHD testing now, but hold off on medication and start with a non-medication, social skills program for John. But, his dad said John is starting to notice all the negative comments from the teachers and feels bad about them. The teachers were very adamant in the parent-teacher meeting in October about recommending that stimulants be started.

Our options are either we can fight this or we can start a very low dose of stimulant, so that if he has an increase in anxiety, we can monitor for this easily and change the medication.

Medication did make him anxious, and he couldn’t fall asleep until 1 a.m. We used four other brands, but all worsened his anxiety.  

I had to medicate with a non-stimulant (which takes weeks to work) and with an anti-anxiety medicine, and start behavior training and therapy with a nearby pediatric psychologist colleague, but none of these strategies would take effect as fast as his teacher wanted.


Comments from the ATTORNEY, 

The school district cannot require a child to take a controlled substance, such as a stimulant, as a condition of attending school or being evaluated for or receiving special education (8 NYCRR § 200.4(b)(9)). Medication is a question that is strictly between the parent and the child’s physician.

If the school is adamant and will not back off from this demand, the parent can file a “due process complaint” (8 NYCRR § 200.5(i)) which will result in a hearing before the local school district. This can be frightening for a parent, but we spend a long time in the office going over what questions will be asked. This way the parents feel confident when going into the due process hearing.

There is, however, one step prior to this hearing that might resolve the issue in favor of the parent. The local school district is required to have a meeting with the parent(s), referred to as a “Resolution Session,” where the issue is discussed and the educational agency has the opportunity to resolve the complaint.

When the parent or the parent's attorney shows the school representatives the clear language of the law, the school will likely agree with the parent and probably make suggestions as to how best to deal with John’s situation other than stimulant medication.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

concerned parent January 11, 2012 at 09:57 PM
A public school cannot legally recommend a child take medications for psychiatric reasons. You need to change the article to reflect this.
Michael Kaufman and Madeleine Kitaj January 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I have sent several children for neurofeedback. For some it seems to be working but if it's going to work it will take a long time. It is expensive for most families usually costs 3000-5000 and for patient where it was effective, this is reasonable as an alternative to medications, but for youngsters who could not stay still for this, parents felt that it was a waste of money. I'm still open to it for some patients.
Michael Kaufman and Madeleine Kitaj January 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
A public school cannot legally recommend a child take "a controlled substance" for psychiatric reasons. This is narrower than "medication" but for all practical purposes in the psychiatric area, they are pretty much the same. My first paragraph in the blog above I did indicate that a school could not require the use of a "controlled substance". This is true no matter what the child's difficulty is; whether it be ADHD or psychiatric.
Michael Kaufman and Madeleine Kitaj January 12, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Much depends on the child's specific situation. Generally speaking ADHD standing alone will not be sufficient to require the local school district to send and pay for the child to attend a private school. Very often, however, there are other "disabilities" that coexist with ADHD. If, given the totality of the child's circumstances, the school is unable to give the child a "free appropriate public education" (often refered to as FAPE) it can be required to pay for the child to attend school elsewhere.
Michael Kaufman and Madeleine Kitaj January 12, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I assume that you are mostly concerned with alternative classroom settings for "gifted" kids generally and not such classrooms for ADHD kids who may or may not be gifted. Here's an interesting website dealing with gifted children and school: http://giftedkids.about.com/od/schoolissues/Issues_of_Gifted_Children_in_the_School_Environment.htm


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