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Posted by alicia on November 14, 1999 at 12:12:17:

This message is from my personal experience.

First to tell you all something about the background of the situation. I am an afterschool caregiver who has 18 hours of early child education courses. I also have ADD, but not ADHD, and have used ritlin and anti-depressants too. The setting I worked in was a YMCA serving ages 4 through 12 with a emphisis on inclusion. Also, because of our emphisis on child development, caregivers were responsible for providing assessments on the children twice a year covering all aspects from social to artistic to scholastic. As a result, we had a very varied population including children of varied abilities from lower-class to middle-class, good to disfunctional homes. The child I will be discussing here was a 5 year old boy who was on ritlin for ADDHD. At home things had gotten so out of control that at one point the child had held a knife to his mother, who I would describe as a supportive person who however was really afraid for her son because of a situation that had developed with her own father who had turett's syndrome. Furthermore, the family had suffered a split up with the father ending up in jail. The family had had a lot of problems finding good childcare with in one instance the caregiver actually locking the child out. Anyway, I am stating all of this to show that the fact that the extremity of the behavior that can be seen in children with ADD is not always a result of ADD alone. It would be normal for any child to act out in these situations.

I am not blaming parents. But, it is true that, even good parents are human. Bad things can happen to them and they can have fears and frustrations that are scary for the child to see their parents go through.

Back to the story.

As anyone knows who has ever dealt with ritlin, it wears off rather quickly, so we had plenty of oppertunity to see this child in his natural state. When I observed him in this state, what it reminded me of how in my own life I experience periods of hyper-attention/ability in my analytical ability and in my dance efforts that are followed by periods of mental exhaustion. To me it looked like this is what was happening to ____. Naturally, when those leaps were in his mental abilities, there was no problem. ___ just exibited an unusual amount of ability to follow the games of the older kids and play with them without getting frustrated. However, when the hyper-concentration would get in his physical abilities, there was a problem. As is taught in ECE classes, children are naturally compulsed to excercise their abilities. The task of the caregiver is to provide them with an appropriate outlet for doing that. Furthermore, a child of this age is not supposed to have a great amount of self-control. However, because both the care inviroment and the teaching methodolgy was set the more regular child, who does not have jumps in abilities and who does not have the kind of hyper forcus on their activities that ADD'ers can have, we did not have the ability to do this for ____. In order to care for him, we did need to have these charactoristics to become more sublimated until we learn the skills to work with this kind of novel being. One of the easiest ways to get ___ to fit the inviroment better was for him to match his self-control abilities with his physical abilities. However, because he could not take in outside information much of the time because he was in his hyper-physical ability state, there wasn't anyway to get the mental maturity we needed from him quickly enough. This is where Ritlin came in, because with it ___ didn't go through those jumps in physical ability and their associated lack of ability to take in new information, ____ now had time to learn those self-control and social skills we needed him to learn. To me it seemed like a necessary crutch to allow ___ and us to learn what we needed to learn. Because I saw Ritlin as a crutch and because I saw how it took from him his accelerated ability periods and also how it kept him from eating during the day and how it appeared to be stunting his growth, I naturally desired to use this crutch as little as possible. And, as both we the instructors and he both learned more about each other, and he was able to learn more and more self-control and social skills, it became less and less necessary for us to use that crutch just to keep ___ in the daycare.

So, anyway, that was why I started to resist the medicating. He was getting to the point where he was fine in our inviroment without it for longer and longer periods of time. Sure it still made a difference in his behavior, but, it took him not just within the normal level but far above it, a trade off that didn't make sense to me considering the side effects that Ritlin causes.

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