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The Informed Parent

Beware Of False Hope

As I perused my local paper's Monday Health Section I came across an article that may give false ideas for help in the area of learning disorders. It related the beneficial effects of medication for neurofibromatosis and speculated that it may also prove helpful in controlling learning disabilities.

I would like to stress the use of the word "may". I have no problem with speculation, but it is fearful that some desperate parents could over focus on this possibility at the expense of pursuing the needed therapics to compensate for the vexing education impairment.

At this time there is no documented medication that helps true learning disabilities, unless we include A.D.D. syndrome in this classification. There is no question that Attention Deficit Disorder impairs learning, but it is usually classified outside this category.

Learning Disability includes visual and audio processing problems, such as dyslexia, etc. These are more common than attentional problems, and present in varying degrees of severity. They are usually not outgrown or cured, but compensation gives tremendous relief. To put this in perspective, if you are told your child is a visual learner, frequently it means your offspring has problems with auditory processing. We live in a euphemistic society that does not like to say the straight truth for fear parents will be upset and children offended or discouraged.

The bottom line at this time is, simply no medication has been proven to cure or help learning disorders, save the therapy for attentional problems. It is my hope that a class of drugs will be found that can aid patients with visual or auditory processing. The medication that will help neurofibromatosis may lead to agents that can help learning problems. But at this time it is speculation.

Most importantly, continue to work with your educators, psychologists and pediatricians in providing helpful therapy so our children can learn to compensate for the processing problems. There is no "magic pill" at this time.

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