Exceptional Students: ADD, AIG, Anxiety, & More

There are students who show signs of disorders that may share similar symptoms to ADD. Teachers do not have permission to share their insight with parents.  A teacher may know the child needs a medication refill.

A teacher may believe (based on years of prior experience, reading the latest research, or involvement in graduate classes) that a child would benefit from re-evaluation that could lead to a prescription change or reveal a different or co-existing diagnosis.

Few parents know that giftedness could seem like ADD and medicating a gifted child that didn’t truly have ADD could compromise their potential (there are also twice-exceptional children who do need to be treated for ADD, while also receiving gifted services…sadly one often cancels the other out because many doctors will write a prescription without referring the child to a psychologist); likewise Bipolar and Aspergers are frequently misdiagnosed as ADD – the medications used to treat those conditions usually affect the dopamine chemical in the brain, whereas ADD meds are often stimulants.

And sometimes ADD meds are given when what the child really needs is one of the following: coaching to manage over-excitability, strategies to cope with anxiety, or appropriate behavior modification.  Some parents are ill-equipped to provide the sort of interventions or discipline their child needs because they themselves may have been raised in a home where denial, bullying, guilt-trips, sarcasm, shame, isolation, or other forms of abuse and negligence to their human needs was the norm in terms of responding to undesirable behavior. Some copy this & some go to the opposite extreme.

Some well intentioned parents admire their predeccsors authortative approach and consequently become bullies. Others, afraid of being too harsh are too liberal, quick to find excuses. Medication is merely a band aid for either case.

In fact, is it worth considering that ADD may not always be a bad thing.  What if a child could go so much farther academically, intellectually, and socially if their minds were allowed to wonder (but engaged enough to prevent wandering).  Vearing off conventional paths is what has brought us many things.

Some parents seek meds to design more compliant children.

Teachers often spend more time with students than their parents do, especially in the elementary grades, where early diagnosis and intervention could make a dramatic difference in the life of a child.

It is unfortunate that teachers feel silenced.  They don’t know where to turn when they suspect a deeper level of disability or even they suspect there is no disability. Yet they know that in the end they share the responsibility for the suffering the child experiences emotionally & academically. They are also frustrated by the fact that the disruption these students present in the classroom infringes on the right to learn of their peers. The best answer they have is use of our social worker.

What if the batteries of tests that students eventually take as they go through the RtI process were given just as the Cogat is routinely given to identify gifted children in 2nd grade?