My daughter, an eighth-grader who has inattentive ADHD, is being picked on in school. She tells me that her peers think she's stupid because she daydreams a lot. Should I talk with her doctor about adjusting her stimulant dosage? And how should I handle the bullying?
by Larry Silver, M.D.
If your daughter's problems with peers relate to her daydreaming, start by meeting with her teachers to learn what they observe and why they believe your daughter has difficulties. Does she, in fact, daydream, or do her teachers have concerns about her being inattentive? Clarify what "daydreaming" means to them: Is she easily distracted by what goes on in class? Does she have problems keeping her materials and work organized? (The inattentive form of ADHD might result in the student having difficulty staying focused or organized.) Is it possible that she daydreams because she finds the work too difficult?
If she is described as inattentive in class, increasing her medication dosage might help. If she finds the work too hard, request testing to find out why it is tough for her. She may have a learning disability.
After discussing those concerns, ask the teachers whether they have seen the other children teasing her or whether there are other peer problems. Try to learn why your daughter feels she is being bullied. If her teachers agree that she is being bullied, meet with the principal to discuss how the school is going to help you handle this important problem.