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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Tourette's Syndrome Help

02/24/2003

Question:

My husband and I had my son tested for ADHD because the school saw things in him that they felt were questionable and possibly related to ADHD. Naturally, we were afraid and thought they were singling out our son. We had him tested and for the money we payed, doctor told us that he was fine but if anything, he told us that he had mild ADHD. At the beginning of last year, my husband and I started noticing things that we hadn`t noticed before. We have done extensive research and video taped our son doing things, but of course, without his acknowledgement that the main focus was on him, to see for ourselves and to show our peditrician that we are fairly confident that our son has Teretts Syndrome. He has been diagnosed yet, because we haven`t taken any steps with the doctor, only our own. So far we`ve managed to do ok, but now, there are other things. He has a difficult time staying focused in school and gets destracted very easily. All his teachers are aware that he may have TS and they notice his tics off and on. Some days are better than others. We don`t want him to be held back in the fifth grade but we want help for him and we don`t really know what to do. I have a big problem with all the medications that are used for children with problems like his and it is very scarey. I have also done a lot of research on the types of medications that can be very harmful and not knowing the long term side affects really concerns me. I`m looking for answers and hope that you may be able to help me with this. Where do I start?

Answer:

Wow! My heart is with you. I can "feel" your concern and your anxiety through out your letter. First, I have had many, many patients with Tourette`s Syndrome (TS), ADD, or both, who did not need to be held back. They would not hold him back just because he has TS. I`d be interested in knowing your research sources. Although there are medications for TS and for ADD that have not been around very long, most have been given to children for decades. They are very safe when used appropriately. To address your specific questions I`d need to know which medications you are concerned about and why. Where to start? Start, first, recognizing that neither ADD nor TS is a major crisis (although it can feel like it some times). Look into your state`s laws about how schools need to adapt for students with special needs. Ask the school what they suggest. If they say "medication" and you are not ready to take that step, ask them what else they can do for him. Keep in mind that people with ADD are some of the most creative people in the world. ADD need not keep you from your dreams, it just changes the route you need to take.

For more information:

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati