Parenting with Pills: Chad, Daniel

School Controversy
Dr. Phil has advice for parents whose children have been diagnosed with ADD and ADHD.
Chad's story made national headlines when he refused to put his 8-year-old son, Daniel, on medication for his hyperactivity. "I will go to jail for my son," says Chad. "It is my right as a parent to decide how my child is to be raised, how my child is to be medicated." Chad says he took Daniel off the medication because he wasn't eating, sleeping or gaining weight, and he wasn't a happy child.

"This is when the school system got involved," he says. According to Chad, he was required to put Daniel on medication. "I told the officer and the social worker that I will not be medicating my child," he explains.

Chad asks Dr. Phil, "Am I neglecting my child for not medicating him? Who's right? Me or the school?"

"Do you recognize that he has a behavioral problem?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah," Chad says.Dr. Phil points out the teacher's perspective, sympathizing that they need to manage 25 to 40 kids with different needs, day after day for little pay, often without support.

Dr. Phil introduces Linda, an elementary school principal, and Cathy, a fourth grade teacher, both sitting in the audience. Linda explains that each of the kids has different needs. "When
we have children with all these varying needs, we're not saying, 'Drug your child,' we're just saying, 'Could you get involved? Come up with a way to help us to deal and cope daily,'" she says.

Cathy explains what she sees in the classroom. "I see situations where the child has been on medication throughout the year and the parent has been in very close contact with the teacher and we've worked very well together. And then at the end of school, all of a sudden, the kid is literally on top of another child and what happened? The father comes to pick the child up and asks, 'Oh, by the way, did you see a difference today? Well, we stopped his medication since it's the last week of school.' They could possibly harm other children,'" she tells Dr. Phil.

"Do you agree that it is at least a partnership between the parents and teachers, and that the teachers need to be supported by what's happening at home?" Dr. Phil asks Chad.


Chad agrees, saying that he went to school on the first day and told the teachers that Daniel has ADHD and that he is on medication, but that his hope was to eventually take him off of it.

Dr. Phil asks Chad if he thinks there is hope for the alternative treatments.

"Yeah I do in a way," Chad replies. "I didn't see any difference though when he was on medication or when he was off medication in his behavior."

As of June, Daniel was taken by his maternal grandparents to live in Las Vegas, and Chad has asked them not to put him back on medication. "I've strongly told his grandmother, 'Do not medicate him. I don't want to see him on medication,'" Chad says.

Dr. Phil points out the importance of finding the true cause of the problem so it can be treated properly. "I always look for other reasons, other causation, whenever I see behavior spinning out of control. I look for the simplest explanation," he says.


"We have a child here who's gone through a divorce situation, has lost his mother tragically to a serious disease, has been relocated to be with you and to a new school. And somewhere back in the records I saw one mention, on one line, that he might be a little depressed," Dr. Phil explains. "I'm astounded that the government would, by your description, step up and demand a specific medication for an undiagnosed disorder, when there are alternative explanations that could explain that very behavior," he says, turning to Dr. Lawlis for his opinion.


"You're absolutely right, because for four months he's gone from a living mother to a totally different situation. I would be depressed. The same symptoms, the same behaviors would be obvious," Dr. Lawlis replies.


"I'm glad you're standing your ground in this regard," Dr. Phil tells Chad. "But by the same token, you do have to say, 'I am going to go to whatever lengths necessary to find out what is going on, and get alternative, non-pill based treatment for my son so he enjoys more tranquility in his life.'"


"I'll fight it until I have to," a determined Chad says.