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My daughter was suspended from school three times in the 5th grade. One time for biting, another for jabbing a child with a pencil (so hard that the child needed a tetnus shot) and another time for brandishing a stick.

I put her on ritalin and these agressive behaviors stopped immediately and never occured again. She is now about to turn 21. Putting her on the ritalin marked a turning point is her life. For my 10 year old daughter, it was a wonderful, calming medication that allowed her to enjoy life yet maintain impulse control and concentrate.

But my daughter had an awful reaction to the very first dose of dexadrine she tried for her ADHD.

And I hear about children that have wonderful reactions to dexadrine but cannot tolerate ritalin. It is all so individual - what will work and what will not.

Your son might be able to give you clues as to what is wrong. Does he understand that his behavior is inappropriate? (there is a difference between knowing and understanding) Is he distressed by his behavior? Afterwards does he say things like: I don't know why I did that, I just did it. Does he feel like he is being provoked even though it may not look that way?

I came to realize with my daughter that in many ways, her behavior was beyond her ability to control it. It was very obvious that her brain was not working the way it should and no amount of talk therapy was going to give her the control that simply wasn't in her. I came to realize that in my situation as a parent with my daughter (and I'm simply talking about my daughter), it would have been 'abuse' on my part not to try her on medications.

I also know from experience how much a medication can mess someone up. It is entirely possible that the Concerta is increasing his agressiveness. It is possible that once off, his bullying could be greatly reduced or even disappear. It could be that stimulant medications are not the route to go with him anymore. But I'm sure you have already thought of everything I am saying.

The best thing I can recommend is to talk to your son in a way that lets him see you as a 'support' person. I would recommend that you do not try to change his behavior by yelling at him or punishing him. I would speak to him in a way that lets him know there is a problem that needs to solved and reassure him that you are going to help him solve it. I would seek his opinion as to what would be a solution. The more a child is having difficulty, the more vital it becomes that you have a good supportive relationship.

I have found from my own experience that my judgement as to what is best for my child has been better than that of the professionals. If the psychologist you are seeing seems to be coming up with suggestion that you know would not work well for your son - don't hesitate to see someone else.

I would recommend getting your child a thorough neurological exam and making sure that he is not experiencing partial seizures. I had a neuropsych exam a couple of years ago and found it very useful. I also had testing for learning disabilities when I was in my 40s and discovered that I had several. I wish I had had (and my parents had had) that information when I was a child. My son had a SPECT scan in his early 20's which showed the fogging (reduced blood flow in the brain)he experiences when he tries to concentrate. I would not recommend however exposing your child to the radiation involved in many of the scans.

If your child has been on medication daily for a couple of years, you might consider withdawing him off medication entirely so that you can get a better understanding of his 'natural state' at that age. As you know, people change with age - especially children - and it might be good to get a better understanding of what he is like at this age with nothing in his system. If he absolutely needs medication, you will know soon enough. And if he does need something, you will have a better understanding of how it is influencing him.

[This message has been edited by rainonwindow (edited 09-13-2003).]

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