Although Jake tried to listen as his 2nd-grade teacher taught arithmatic, he couldn't sit still. Down the hall, in the kindergarten class, Sammy pinched a boy who touched his paper. And a few blocks away, Carla didn't hear her teacher's instructions for the 7th grade history exam because she was gazing at the birds nesting outside her classroom window.
These children's behaviors exemplify the impulsiveness, aggression and inattention that are classic symptoms of the neurological illness called Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD).
The behaviors lead to phone calls from principals, poor grades and negative repercussions. Parents will eventually take the child to the pediatrician who - after a brief visit - may prescribe Ritalin or another stimulant, and tell the parents to see if the drug helps improve school performance. Although Ritalin and similar drugs are regulated as federally controlled substances, they are prescribed to children as young as 4 years old. Alternatively, parents who are averse to or hesitant about medication may send their child to a therapist in the hope the latter will "fix" the child.
These treatments assume the child suffers from AD/HD. However, a child's behavior may stem from a variety of underlying issues which are not related to AD/HD. For example, an Auditory Processing Disorder will impair the chld's ability to filter out distracting noises; a Learning Disability can affect language, reading, or spatial-motor skills; and a mood disorder such as Depression may cause irritability, tantrums and aggressive behavior.
Children's behavior is the language they use to communicate to us. Rather than jump to conclusions, misdiagnose and mistreat your children, seek out an expert who will carefully assess the meaning of the behavior and identify its underlying cause.