ADHD? Try phonics first

By February 22, 2011

While any controversy over attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the use of Ritalin has not particularly been in the news recently, my recent experience with it may be of some use to readers looking for another solution for their children.

In mid-December, I learned that my 7-year-old grandson had been prescribed Concerta (Ritalin in time-release form) for being “easily distracted, below grade level in school and being disruptive in school.” Extra help in pull-out classes for his reading had not helped. Confused by this description, I had him taken off the drug, took two weeks off and flew to Minnesota.

I found my second-grade grandson reading at first-grade level and poor at spelling. Checking his phonics, I found, of the 38 single-letter sounds of the 26-letter alphabet (some letters have two, three and four sounds), he was proficient in half, hesitant on a quarter and missing a quarter of them altogether.

Within one week of remedying just that, his spelling and reading improved immensely. Now that he could properly sound the words out, he knew what they meant. Imagine his confusion while reading before that.

After two weeks, he was reading at second-grade level comfortably, enjoyably and not “easily distracted.” His five spelling tests since Christmas vacation have been averaging 97 percent. He is now comfortable and confident in class.

A friend in Woodland found herself in exactly the same situation with her 7-year-old grandson being prescribed Ritalin, and they are just beginning the same phonics remediation.

To any other parents or grandparents who are uncomfortable with how this amphetamine-type drug is supposed to help a child, I suggest they can look first for some underlying, unresolved educational issue being the true cause of the observed problem.

John Doughty


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