Consistency is the Key: Promoting long-term success for ADD/ADHD students in elementary school.

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My essat covers the importance of medication for ADD/ADHD studenty. Consistency with medication doses is very important for these students to receive the best education possible.

Submitted: August 08, 2013

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Submitted: August 08, 2013

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Consistency is the Key:  Promoting long-term success for ADD/ADHD students in elementary school.

By Novi White

The debate continues in a triangular path between parents, educators, and the medical community over whether medication is effective in the classroom.  Some believe medication is a necessary evil that allows students to focus and function in the classroom to improve their learning.  While others feel that teachers should find a way to get students to stay actively engaged in lessons without the assistance of medication.  Sit down!  Please be quiet!  If you can’t behave, I will have to call your parents!  Those are the commonly heard phrases inside the classroom.  Step into an elementary school classroom and stay for a while.  You will notice that these comments are generally directed to one or two students.  Classified as “behavior problems,” some have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and have been put on medication.  Whatever your position, if students have been prescribed medication, it should be given on a consistent basis.  What are teachers supposed to do when these children haven’t been given their medication consistently by the people responsible for them…their parents?

Parents generally struggle when deciding whether to put their children on medication.  Once the decision is made and students begin to take the prescribed medication, parents start to see the change in the child.  They want their children to be successful in the classroom and want to do what it takes for them to receive the best education possible.On the other hand, they are concerned with the side effects, which can range from fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach aches, and even headaches.  So parents turn to medication holidays.  (Maria Xia, 2011.)What are those?  These are days or periods of time when students are allowed to not take their medication.  These holidays occur on days when students don’t have school, i.e. weekends, school holidays, and summer break.  As well as medication holidays, other breaks occur when parents flat out forget to give their children their medicine because it’s not considered to be important.  Or they may not realize how effective having their medicine every day can be.  The problem arises when these holidays take place during the school week, the time when medicine is most crucial. 

The teachers’, who are with these children every day, are able to notice differences in them.  On medicated days, they are quiet, alert, and focused on the task at hand.  Rules are followed, assignments are completed, and teachers are able to give parents positive reports for the day.  However, the next day they come to school and immediately teachers are able to tell that they haven’t been given their medication.  In some cases, students with ADD or ADHD can be loud, obnoxious, pester other students, or refuse to do what they are asked.  When asked about a lesson from the previous day, they are unable to remember what they were taught and therefore need to be re-taught.  This task is difficult, because the student is unwilling to cooperate.  The following days, students may teeter between these contrasting behaviors and may even let the teacher know that they have taken their medication, but it is difficult to tell if they really have.  Susan Barton (n.d.) says, “Kids with ADHD have sensitive bodies.  Each time they start taking medication, it takes a couple of days for their bodies to adjust.”  As a result, these breaks can be ineffective and do more harm than good.

As educators, the goal is that every student taught, would be successful. In order for success to happen, students must have everything they need to achieve.  It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that students have what they need before coming to school; making sure kids are dressed, backpacks ready, homework done, and school supplies in stock.  As a parent, I want to make sure my child has a successful school year and making sure medication is taken is one addition to the list that must be done consistently.  “Do you give your nearsighted children a vacation from their glasses?” asks Betsy Lampe (n.d.).  “I don’t understand why you would give them a medication holiday from something that helps them.”Additionally, children in elementary school are not at an age or maturity level to make sure medication is taken every day.  Once they are of age, they can better understand the positive effects of medication and be willing to take on that responsibility.

Soon parent conferences take place concerning student behavior.  The all too common excuses of “my child needs a break” or “he is like a zombie at home” or “I left home early and forgot” or “she should have remembered to take it” or “we will do better” are given. For some parents, these updates aren’t a huge deal.  Nothing changes because the student may not be failing at that time.  However, as the cycle of here and there medication continues; failing grades are produced.  According to Brian Smithley (n.d.), “The peaks and valleys can take a toll on anyone” and the education of these students’ take a hit.  Ultimately, they fail because of the inconsistency and the inability to grasp concepts long term.  All of a sudden, the teacher is to blame, the parent takes no responsibility, and the child suffers.  This is a situation which can and must be avoided at all costs.

As previously stated, parents should ensure that their child receives medication consistently to give them the greatest chance to be successful in school.  If not, it will send a message to our children that taking medication needed is not important or necessary.  Take a stand and be an advocate for your children.  A key factor for mother, Emmy Fearn (n.d.), was that “they consistently dealt with their children’s situation in a straightforward, positive, problem-solving manner.” Fearn (n.d.) continues on stating, “When her daughter began taking medication she was finally able to relax, pay attention in class, and her schoolwork improved tremendously.Parents who can intervene can influence the outcomes for their children.”

 Works Cited:

Shoemaker, C.H. (n.d.). When to take a break from ADHD medication.Retrieved August 7, 2013, from Disney Family website:  http://family go.com/parenting/pkg-school-age/article-795026-when-to-take-a-break-from-adhd-medication-t/

Xia, Maria (2011.). ADHD:  The Pros and Cons of a Drug Holiday.  Retrieved August, 6, 2013, from Child Mind Institute website:  http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2011-6-14-kids-adhd-meds-pros-cons-drug-holiday.

Fearn M.A., Emmy (n.d.). A Tale of Two Children:  From School-age Struggles to Adult Success.  Retrieved August 7, 2013, from Attention Deficit Disorder Association website:  http://www.add.org/?page=adda_articles.

Wilson, Edward E. & Carroll, J. A. (2008.).  Acts of TeachingHow to Teach Writing 2nd ed. Westport, CT:  Libraries Unlimited/Teacher Ideas Press.

 


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