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Group for ADHD: Questions and Answers

Group for ADHD is a private mental health clinic in Manhattan, founded by Lenore Ruben, LMSW, CHT, EMDR, and Orly Calderon, Psy.D., a NYS licensed psychologist. The mission of Group For ADHD is to create effective methods of coping with ADHD and LD by focusing on the individual’s strengths.

My daughter is diagnosed with Learning Disabilities and I am dissatisfied with the services she is receiving in her public school. I have found some private programs that I believe would directly deal with the specific learning issues that she has. I can only afford private services if I use my insurance but they say they do not cover learning disabilities. Is there something I can do to compel the insurance company to cover the treatment?

The short answer is no. Insurance companies typically do not cover for treatment of Learning Disabilities. Such treatment is the responsibility of the Board of Education under the Special Education Law (Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004).

But you are not without recourse. If you feel that the school your child is attending is not providing appropriate services to remediate your child’s learning needs, then you are entitled to an impartial hearing. This is a meeting between you and representatives of the school district, during which you can express your concerns. You are allowed to bring to this hearing an outside specialist who supports your view. Such a specialist can advocate for your child’s needs and recommend, for example, that outside services be used to augment the services that your child receives in school. If the school is convinced that it is unable to provide your child with the necessary services and that outside services are needed, then the Board of Education must pay for such services to be provided outside the school. To learn more about your child’s rights, it may be useful to consult with a child advocacy group. Many of them provide pro-bono legal services.

I have been having an on-going argument with my husband that maybe you could shed some light on. Is having a double set of schoolbooks for an ADHD child in middle school beneficial or is it reinforcing the child’s forgetfulness and lack of responsibility?

First of all it is important acknowledge that the child is not leaving his books (sneakers, keys, pencils, etc) behind, on purpose. Nor is the child being intentionally irresponsible. These are typical symptoms of ADHD and sometimes of Learning Disabilities. As such, these behaviors need to be addressed in a pragmatic fashion. To this end, having a double set of books can be helpful. The child can keep one set of books at home and one set at school so that he always has a set nearby when he needs to study or do homework. The disadvantage is that having a double set of books doesn’t necessarily mean that each location will retain one set. Having 2 sets of books doesn’t remedy the child’s forgetfulness. As a result, the child may end up with two books in the same location. Using two sets of books also means that the child needs to develop a new system for taking notes and highlighting. For example, it becomes imperative that all notes are written in a separate notebook and not in the margins of books. This way the student is left with one set of notes instead of notes being divided between the margins of two different sets of schoolbooks.

In short, having two sets of books may be helpful but it is not a cure-all. Supervision and reinforcing of self-organizational skills must take place.

My college-aged daughter is taking prescribed Adderall for ADHD and I am concerned about her yielding to peer pressure for inappropriate use and illegal sales of the medication. Do you have any ideas?

This is a valid concern. We know there has been a lot written in the press over the past few years, citing examples of such behaviors. You are not able to control the behaviors of the people your child may come into contact with. However, you can help by educating your child about the medical and legal risks of selling or sharing her prescriptions. Talk openly to your daughter about the dangers of using controlled substances without medical supervision and about the legal ramifications of unauthorized sales of controlled substances.

The good news is, not every child who owns psycho-stimulants shares or sells them to his /her peers. It is important for you to self-reflect as to why you are concerned with this issue. Does your child hang out with peers that you don’t approve of or that you fear could lead your child down this road? If so, don’t be afraid to express your disapproval in a productive manner. Stand firm in your opinion by calmly sharing observations of the specific behaviors that worry you and setting appropriate boundaries in your home. For example, if your child socializes with peers that you fear may have a bad influence on her, then it is perfectly all right to say to your daughter, that she is welcomed home at any time but specific friends of hers are not permitted in your home. It is important to remember that standing your ground and setting loving limits can be difficult. Your child may resist you. The tensions in the house may create further conflict and contribute to your child’s negative behaviors. Seeking outside counsel can often help parents stay strong in their position and alleviate this cycle of tension. An experienced therapist can help you and your child to communicate productively.#

Questions to be answered in this column should be emailed to: info@GroupForADHD.org



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