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ADD kid? Try Classroom Therapy, Not Drugs

May
11
2006

Here’s the scenario: a 12-year-old boy, diagnosed with ADD, is suspended from school for the umpteenth time.

Considered violent – prone to throwing desks, attacking other children, trying to hurt himself – the principal renews the suspension every 15 days for two months.

When the parents protest, he asks them to medicate the boy or take him out of school.

His parents refuse to put him on medication and take it to the judge.

The courts re-instate the boy in school.

He has a right to go to school, without using medication, the sentence says.

A group of teachers and the psychologist who has been seeing him must get together, develop a special program and get him back in school in 10 days. The school, and the other students, must all work together to help him.

Science fiction?

No, Milan.

I’ve been following this local story with interest (sorry, no articles in English, it’s exactly the kind of thing the foreign press sleeps on) and wasn’t very surprised at the outcome.

Try to imagine: ADD only recently became known here and Ritalin hasn’t been approved for use in Italy.

So whose responsibility is it? Teachers? Parents? And what about the students who are now forced to be involved in this group therapy, whether they like it or not?

When the parents learned son Gianluca was so out of control the teachers would lock him in an empty room, they couldn’t believe the principal was talking about thier son. They knew he had problems (and hence his visits to the psychologist) but were loath to believe it was so serious he could not attend school.

They may be on the right track: at least one American expat mom is convinced that Italian schools “fixed” her son’s ADD. The general chaos of the school, here in Lombardy, seemed to contribute to a general mellowing out of behaviour and increased concentration.

Plus the fact that the Italian teacher didn’t know what the American mother was talking about when she informed the school of the diagnosis: “Don’t worry signora,” Denise Hummel writes. “This is something the Americans invented. We don’t have it here.”

In one of those odd tricks of fate, the school Gianluca attends is called “Rinascita” or rebirth.

Let’s hope it is true to its name.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 11:32 PM | Permalink

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