Medication for Attention Concerns: “Is this a long term solution?”

“Is this a long term solution?” is one of the first questions I ask parents who come to my office with children using medication to “treat” attention concerns. Most of the time the answer is “no”. I am very thankful that the answer is “no” because that means we can start working together on answering the more important question of, “What is making it difficult for your child to perform academic tasks?” Working toward finding the route of the problem always leaves parents and children feeling more at ease. Many of the children I see who have been placed on medication are still struggling academically. The medication has made it easier for them to sit in their chair and keep their heads pointed toward the learning material, but real learning has not improved. Many of the medications used actually interfere with the muscles of the eye that allow for clear vision. In the normally functioning eye, every time the eyes change position the focusing muscles change position and “refocus” what we are looking at. If you notice that your child has very large pupils and that the pupils don’t change size when they switch looking from distance to near, your are noticing a sign that your child may be struggling to keep things in focus. A child who can’t consistently see clearly can’t possibly “pay attention” in school! Another common visual problem in children who have difficulty paying attention for academic tasks is Convergence Insufficiency. When someone reads the two eyes need to point inward at the page. The two eyes should move evenly and efficiently into this convergent position. If convergence isn’t easy or is impossible a person tends to see intermittent double vision which can look like the words are moving around and dancing on the page. Imagine “paying attention” if all the words are moving!!! It’s impossible!

If your child is struggling with academics and it has been suggested that they have an “attention” issue, I encourage you to seriously consider looking deeper to help your child solve the issue instead of masking the real issue with medication.

It may seem harsh, but before you consider putting your child on medication, ask yourself if you would ever advocate for your child using street drugs or other mind altering chemicals. There really is only a fine line of difference in the whole grand scheme of things. We want our children to learn how to be and learn and think. We want them to develop into confident people who can solve problems for themselves. It is a dangerous message to send to a child that they need a medication that makes them feel loopy and “different” in order to “pay attention”.

Please feel free to leave your comments and or concerns as a comment to this post. If you would like additional resources or have questions please feel free to contact me.

Always moving forward,

Dr. Lane

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