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Volume 2 • #7 • March 2003


Some time ago we had a fourth grade boy in a school project whose RfS tutor told me that he seemed specially unfocused, couldn’t keep his mind on what he was doing, forgot spelling rules, and was unusually distractible even for a dyslectic kid. A little investigating turned up the information that his classroom teachers had, for nearly two years, tried to talk his daddy into putting him on Ritalin because they were sure they had a case of ADD on their hands.

The daddy had steadfastly refused. So we had a conference with the teacher, the principal, Daddy and me. Apparently the child lived during the week with his father and on weekends with his mother in a perfectly amicable situation, so that wasn’t it. But Daddy drove the child an hour away from home three nights a week for boxing lessons. I suggested that the boxing be reduced to Friday night only, and that at the end of the year, after he had had enough sleep for a couple of months, we could see whether he could concentrate better. If we eliminated one possibility for his lack of focus and he still wasn’t doing well, we could reconsider the Ritalin. Well, you know the story. The child perked up and at the end of the year had completed a two and a half year jump in reading and everybody was happy.

Almost everybody.

His classroom teacher was FURIOUS. It had taken her over a year to finally get that man to agree to Ritalin, and in one swoop I had undone all her work!

Which reinforces my contention that a teacher is not a physician and has no business “diagnosing” ADD just because some little squirmer or jumping jack is driving her crazy in class. The number of dyslectic children who are misdiagnosed as having ADD is getting to be a national scandal. I can assure you that Ritalin never taught a kid to read. Physicians are also to blame. When Mama comes in with the kid and describes his behavior at home, and the teacher tells him her own dreadful stories, the doc assumes it must be ADD (he doesn’t know how to diagnose dyslexia either) and prescribes the drug on the basis of “behavioral evidence”.

Before any diagnoses are attempted on a child who either can’t concentrate or who misbehaves badly, there are two simple tests that should be done: an IQ test and a reading level. If the two are discrepant, further testing should be done to check for dyslexia.

Teaching tip:

Always look first for the simple solution. One of my students was reading quite well after doing RfS, but still couldn’t get his “language arts” papers done in time. Fortunately the library was right next to his classroom, so I suggested that he be allowed to go there where it was quiet to do the papers because he was still very distractible. After that his papers were in on time and he made it to recess every day.



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