ADHD - stock question and answer

I recently got this email question, again. It is a relatively common email that I receive so I thought I would post the question and my stock answer here...

The Question:

My school district/teacher keeps telling me that my child has ADHD and needs to be medicated. They have been harassing me at every IEP meeting and want me to medicate my child. I have absolutely refused because I never believed that medication would fix the problems my child has.

How do I know if my child even has ADHD, and what should I do about it? How do I get the school to stop harrassing me? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

The Answer:

The school district is not qualified or licensed to make medication recommendations for your child. Medication suggestions should come from your pediatrician/other physician, or psychologist who is working in concert with the physician. The point here is that medication is a medical recommendation and not an educational recommendation. Only people who are medically qualified should be making medication suggestions.

Frankly, I am always a little shocked when I hear that a school district or district personnel (teachers, etc.) are making medication recommendations - but it happens frequently. Some municipalities have even written laws to stop school districts from making these recommendations, or to stop districts from funneling students to doctors who will provide the diagnosis and medication.

Try to work cooperatively with your child’s educational team to coordinate an appropriate educational plan. That plan may include behavioral, educational, and therapy interventions. Use this plan to inform your physician of how things are going in school. Choices to medicate a child should be made only when the physician has all of the appropriate information from the educational team and parent so that an informed and correct decision can be made.

If you are dissatisfied with one recommendation, seek out additional opinions.

If there is any way we can help you at ABC Therapeutics with occupational or physical therapy evaluations, second opinion reports, or ancillary therapy please give us a call at (716) 580-3040


Christopher J. Alterio, Dr.OT, OTR
ABC Therapeutics

Background reading:

Sax L. & Kautz, K.J. (2003). Who first suggests the diagnosis of attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder? Annals of Family Medicine, 1, 171 –174.

Schneider, H. & Eisenberg, D. (2006). Who receives a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the United States elementary school population? Pediatrics, 117, 601-609.


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