It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “Should my kid’s school push for ADHD testing?” Listen in to find out Dr. Leman’s answer.


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Doug: The child just can’t sit still. They’re bouncing around the room, they’re not focused on the math the way they need to and the school says therefore we need to do ADH testing on the child. Is that a good thing? Will it help my child? Does she have ADHD or is this just the phase she’s going through? That’s the question that Pam asked Dr Kevin Leman and we get to hear his answer. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I am Andrea.

Doug: And I’m super duper happy that you are here with us today. I mean like honestly, I’m so happy for you to be able to grow in your parenting. No falsity like, but oh, okay. I’ll jump into the topic. If this is your first time, welcome. We want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or child, please go seek a local professional for help. So now that I’m so wound up, I’m just going to keep going and you guys, Andrea and Mr Leman, you can just stop me. Our kids are doing so well now that they’ve left the house and we’ve just had an incredible last two weeks of interaction with our grown children. And I just want to say Dr Leman, thank you a bazillion for helping us change our parenting because we were headed to rebellion and now we’re not.

Doug: So everybody out there, if you don’t know why we do this, it’s because it’s changed our lives and it can change yours as well. So thank you. Okay, into today’s question. Here is Pam’s question for Dr Leman about ADHD.

Pam: Hi Dr Lehman, my name is Pam and I had a question about ADHD and specifically what to do with a kid whose school is starting to push for testing. My sister actually called me today and this has been an ongoing conversation discussion, but the teacher, her daughter’s class just sidelined them today and wants the testing done. And this little girl is eight years old, she doesn’t have her times tables memorized, she loves books, but she doesn’t like reading on her own all that well yet she’s not the best speller. Basically, she is exactly how I was when I was that age. I was diagnosed in the fourth grade with ADD and I never was put on medication, which I’m thankful for, but I also know how stressed out everyone was around me and how big of a frustration I was to them. My sister on the other hand, thrives in academically competitive environments.

Pam: I’m a children’s book illustrator, my sister is a biochemist. She does not know what to do with this little girl who is wired just exactly like I am and it seems like the school doesn’t either. I feel like longterm perspective there is nothing to worry about but everyone else is panicking so I’m wondering if you can offer any advice.

Dr. Leman: Wow. Well, thank you for the well thought out question, ma’am. As soon as you mention testing to a parent, most parents ears go up and back at the same time. Most parents have a negative preset about testing children. Not for vision, not for hearing, but if you get into the emotional side of things, there’s a negative preset there. That being said, I would have to in full disclosure tell you that I basically way on the side of non-medication for young children, but here comes the however. I’ve been around a long time, I’ve seen a lot of kids who quite frankly need medication for them to be able to focus, give focused attention to schoolwork. You mentioned that you thought that school systems don’t take a look at the big picture, the long term effect of medication and I believe that’s true. And the jury’s out on just what are the long term repercussions to medicating children. I can relate one medical story, one conversation I had with my own physician and he was a great physician.

Dr. Leman: Steve is my persiguen and I had my knee done by him and he’s a great human being, a great physician. We were talking about the medication that I was going to take after the surgery and I’ll never forget what he said to me. I said, well, I’m really not that gung ho on taking those meds, I think I’d rather just tough it out. And he said, well, Kevin tell you the truth all those drugs do is scramble your brains anyway. And it’s true so again, I have a negative set in my mind of medication, especially for young children. But again, the however has to be spoken, there are kids who need medication. And ADD is a medical problem, ADD should be diagnosed not by a school teacher, but by a physician who’s trained in obviously medicine, but also behavioral medicine. There are a lot of pediatricians these days who have gone off into that specialty area. So I think you have to be careful about it and yet I think you have to be street-smart here.

Dr. Leman: If you look at the child’s track record in school in the third grade and they’re not reading well and they don’t spell well, and what’s going to change that? How long do you wait before you intercede and bring in some extra help? Well the extra help might be there, but if the kids is unable to focus, we’re in trouble. So as silly as this sounds to some, you can medicate a child for a period of time and see what kind of behavioral change there is in a child and see if the school work improves very measurably. If it did and if it were my son or daughter as anti-medication as I am, I think I would choose to medicate, but I wouldn’t medicate them all year around. I would use a smaller dosage as I possibly could. I would consult with a physician that could certainly understand my inced about medicating a child.

Dr. Leman: This isn’t one where it’s easy to use the broad brush so to speak and say do this or do that. It really is an individual situation where you have to sit down with your physician and make an informed decision about what’s best for your child. Let me say this, are there too many kids medicated today? Yes, in my opinion, way too many. So again, a lot of kids who are boisterous, who are active can get falsely labeled ADD and we drug the little suckers. Again, I think when you put drugs in a kid’s body, you need to put a lot of forethought, a lot of discussion, get some people’s opinion to make a good informed decision for your child. That’s what I’m saying, so.

Andrea: Dr Leman, what are the problems with those medications?

Dr. Leman: Well, again, I don’t want to speak as a physician here because I’m not, but, and by the way, I’ve never diagnosed a kid ADD. Are there kids that I looked at and said, I think that kid’s ADD? Yeah, plenty of them. But I always referred those parents to a medical doctor who actually wrote a book on ADD as well. He’s very well known who made the diagnosis for kids and parents who saw me. But there’s some indication that it can stunt the growth in children, for example. And again, they used to just use Ritalin years ago, there’s other medications physicians use now. Life is a lot more complex and they’re learning more about ADD and ADHD. And again, kids have all kinds of deficits, processing deficits, got kids who are dyslexic and we’re an over medicated society and I’m just saying we should use strain in medicating children.

Dr. Leman: I think getting a kid who’s not doing well in school early, a tutor is an excellent idea. Couple hours a day, maybe even just an hour a day, maybe it’s a teenager down the street, a family friend, preferably not mom or dad, that usually doesn’t work real great. But get the kid some help. I mean if your kid’s a reader and there are parents who have kids who are ADD who are voracious readers, that’s a tremendous plus. If your kid’s a voracious reader, half of your kid’s education problems are over right there, because that kid will do well in school because his or her veracious attitude toward reading.

Andrea: So Pam said that she was, the lady asking the question, that she was diagnosed ADD in fourth-grade herself, but she was never medicated. Could it be that this little girl just needs more time to physically have an outlet or be creative and that she’s just not ready for that focus of school.

Dr. Leman: Sure. I mean every kid is different. I mean, I have often wondered out loud how many labels they would have put on me as a kid because I was a handful. And again, many people outgrow ADD, they physically just outgrow it. And yet there’s adults who have ADD. There’s cases where out of the blue seemingly an adult became ADD. So people are complicated, life’s complicated, the human body is complicated and when you get into medication you just have to know you’re altering some things that are, you just want to make an informed good choice for your son or your daughter. And that’s not an easy choice for a lot of people to make because they come to that situation just as I do with a preconceived idea about what medication could do or can’t do.

Doug: Well, when we come back from the break I want to ask you how do we talk to our school? But at the break, which here we are, I want to talk about the ebook promotion. You get this right now and that is, When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough. You can get it between now and January 31 of 2020 for $1.99. So Dr Leman, if I read this book, what will I get out of it? What benefit will it do me?

Dr. Leman: Well, I think you’ll get an eye opening experience if you read this book, if you’re one of those people that live in piles, you tend to be a procrastinator, you’re a great starter, but not a great finisher. If any of that rings true in your life, get this book and you will see that you are the culprit that defeat yourself. And it probably is a direct result of you growing up in a home where one of your parents were critical of you. Like I say eye opener, it’s, I’m telling you, this is a book that people write back and say, wow, that was a life changer for me. I never realized that I secretly had a plan to defeat myself. And so that’s pretty eye opening statement. So if you’re one of those people that struggle and you know you’re a lot more competent than you show, this is a book for you.

Doug: One of the things I’ve heard you say in the past is if you’re thinking about going to a counselor to help your or a psychologist to help you out, you would highly recommend that you start with this book and for a buck 99 you might be able to diagnose yourself and help your self get over some things. So if you’re thinking, man, I’m kind of stuck, I want to get up moving forward, When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough, January now to the 31st for $1.99. So Dr Leman, you run multiple schools now and when the school calls up and says, “Hey, we want to do testing for ADD.” It’s going to take some parents a lot of guts to say, “No, we want to take our child to our own medical doctor first.” How do they, can you help that parent who’s afraid to have that conversation? What should they say to the school?

Dr. Leman: Well, I think a parent has absolutely the right to take their kid to their primary physician, the pediatrician to a specialist, whatever. If a school’s making a recommendation, it’s a recommendation based upon facts. Okay. It should be a recommendation that’s not only from the teacher, but one of the other allied professionals within the school and say, “Hey, we think there’s a problem here and we believe that testing is appropriate.” And again, that in my mind is completely up to the parent. Parents who have been left out of the conversation too many times, parents are the conversation. They’re the ones responsible for their children. So if a parent wants to take their kid to their own physician, so be it. That’s great. The point is, is there a problem? Is there a processing problem? Is there an ADD problem? Because if you can get that problem moving in the right direction, chances are that kid is going to be able to learn better and that’s what we’re trying to put into effect. Giving that kid the best possible chance for success.

Andrea: Another question that Pam asked was, once she is tested and if she was labeled ADHD, is that okay? Is there something that goes with that label that’s going to travel with them through the years?

Dr. Leman: Kids unfortunately have more labels than they need. We have kids who have all kinds of individual educational programs and every school has them. Why there’s so many these days, who knows? Might have something to do with, we’ve fed kids processed food from the time they were born. I have no idea, but we sure have a lot of kids who have special needs of one kind or another. And parents today, you hear it all the time, I don’t want my kid to be labeled. Well, how about a label like John or Susan? That’s a nice label, their name. I’m not a label person either, again, I was a guy that was written off by school personnel a reminder for some, if you’re new to our podcast, my guidance counselor told me with a straight face, he couldn’t get me in reform school, let alone college.

Dr. Leman: So my wife’s head nurse said, don’t associate with that janitor, he’ll never amount to anything. I laugh, but that time I didn’t. So a lot of us had been written off, a lot of us have had labels of one kind or another. I understand the parents don’t like labels and we do our best. I know at our schools, not to label kids, but we have a huge team of people that work with kids who are struggling in one area or another. We just try to do our best, work with the kids in the classroom and outside the classroom. And if home and school could work together, that’s always a one two punch that’s hard to defeat.

Doug: So to wrap this up and say it again. So what I hear you saying Dr Lehman is, absolutely you should get the child tested and it should be with a medical professional who is, that knows how to diagnose correctly ADHD. And that we should be working with the school, but it’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure they get, they’re testing the right way. And that maybe we are over quickly diagnosing or medicating students, but if that’s what’s necessary, do it cautiously and wisely. Did I say that right?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, we overmedicate at the adult level too. I mean that’s a huge problem in our country. Somebody gets a cold and they want antibiotics, that’s a whole another story. But we do overmedicate that’s for sure.

Andrea: I like that you add that, give the child the lowest dose possible and do a trial period and see if it’s actually making a difference. Don’t just slap them in there with the normal dose. And then don’t medicate them in the summer. I just think that just goes really well with your whole philosophy of not over-medicating.

Doug: Dr Leman I got to tell you something else real quick while we’re on the subject. You also said get a tutor and the Terpening household has been resisting getting a tutor for years and we finally did. And do you know the relief it has brought to this household is amazing and our kids are way less distracted in that subject than ever before. And I know we didn’t touch on it much, but I have become a, I know you’ve been telling us for years, get a tutor, get a tutor, get a tutor. We didn’t follow it, but that was gold. If my kid was labeled ADHD, I think I might start, that’s one of the first steps I would look into. So yeah.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, it gets a focus. I mean, a kid’s homework for example, can be the focus for the entire evening in a home, with tears and tantrums and yelling and screaming and the gnashing of teeth. It’s crazy. That’s why I say when you look at tutors, don’t look at yourself, mom and dad as tutor, find one.

Doug: Find one. We’ve now become-

Andrea: Somebody who knows the subject.

Doug: We are now fans of tutors, the Terpenings have finally listened to Dr Leman. We don’t like to listen to him very often, but every now and then we do.

Dr. Leman: My wife’s been my tutor all my life. She dresses me, tells me what I should do, what I shouldn’t do, what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat. And I find Ghirardelli squares next to my body at night, wrappers and who’s been eating those? Not me. The woman who tells me how to eat right?

Andrea: I mean the chocolate wasn’t there just their wrapper.

Dr. Leman: That’s right. I’ve had chocolate on my back, many a night.

Doug: Dr Leman, it sounds like maybe we need to have a counseling session with you and Mrs Leman here, so we’ll work on that later.

Dr. Leman: Yes, I need one.

Doug: Yes. Well Pam, thank you for your question. We love them and you can go to question and leave us your question there. We love it. We love hearing what you need. And as always, we love adding to your parenting toolbox so you can love those kids more and more and more. And we look forward to the next time that we get to be with you.

Andrea: Have a great week.

Doug: And don’t forget to go get this book, When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough. Until the 31st of January 2020 for $1.99. Alrighty.

Andrea: All right.

Doug: I’m out.

Andrea: Bye. Bye.

Doug: Bye bye.