As it gets to the time of year when I am trying to prevent a sniffle from becoming a heavy cold, I’m also trying to analyse the medication of several of my students.
I am currently trying to finish measuring up the correct doses of methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta etc) against individual pupils’ behavioural patterns, before I e-mail the details to our consultant at CAMHS. It’s proving a difficult task as I keep getting distracted, but I’m almost there now − sipping on a Lemsip myself and trying to concentrate.
After e-mailing the completed list to the consultant (always with initials, NHS confidentiality rules don’t allow me to even use first names) they will get all the files out and go through individual cases with me over the telephone.
One student is a concern because although they’re now taking their medication, it will take time to work them back up to their previous dose. Currently on 20mg controlled release tablets the student is doing ok, but at around lunchtime the abusive language, mood swings and occasional violent outbursts start. This was not the case last year when a higher dose was given.
Still that’s my job: to medicate, help review and support the young people at my school. It is difficult, and sometimes you have to take things on the chin – occasionally literally! But I have a great working relationship with the consultants and they know the school and me well. That is half the battle here – trust between professionals is key.
I often remind parents/carers that medication is just one support mechanism for young people. School structure and systems also support them, and there also needs to be good support and understanding at home.
Taking a tablet is not the solitary answer, but, when handled with understanding and structure, I have seen some dramatic results. There is no switch or magic wand; things take time. Supporting young people during this time is a key skill of the modern SENCo; albeit a very challenging one.