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Your Problems: Miriam Stoppard's Advice Column: Miriam.

Will tablets harm our troubled boy?


MY grandson, who's 12, is on four Ritalin tablets a day for dyspraxia.

He has bad temper tantrums when he doesn't know how to stop - usually at school.

He's usually such a generous, caring boy. But I'm concerned about the side effects and long-term effects of Ritalin.

He doesn't get any other sort of help and I worry about his future. What can a child like him expect in adult life? I feel these tablets will hold him back in some way.

VDYSPRAXIA and DAMP, which stands for Deficit in Attention, Motor Control and Perception, are two closely linked conditions.

Dyspraxia is a partial loss of the ability to perform skilled, co-ordinated movements in the absence of any defect in motor or sensory functions.

The nervous system is the body's information gathering, storage and control system and it's organised like a computer that controls a highly complex machine. Disorders of the nervous system may result from damage to, or dysfunction of, its component parts.

"Motor" is a term used to describe anything that brings about movement such as a muscle or nerve. It is usually applied to nerves that stimulate muscles to contract and thereby produce movement, including muscles which control speech.

"Perception" is the interpretation of a sensation. People receive information about the environment through the five senses - taste, smell, hearing, vision and touch - but the way in which this information is interpreted depends on other factors too.

Drug therapy is usually used for those children with dyspraxia who fail to respond to psychotherapy. In the case of Ritalin, it doesn't work for everyone and is usually discontinued if there's been no improvement after a month. In long-term therapy, treatment should be gradually withdrawn every year to determine if it's still necessary.

It's important for you and the rest of the family to realise that, when your grandson's experiencing difficulties, he should be praised for what he can excel at, rather than have attention drawn what he can't do so well. Patient families and teachers can do a lot to make up for a child's lack of skills.

Coping strategies can go a long way to making the situation easier and, with remedial and other help, many children with dyspraxia manage very well in mainstream education.

There is a Dyspraxia Foundation which can offer support and guidance and it can be contacted on 01462-454986 or write to 8 West Alley, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, FG5 1EG enclosing a large SAE.

He's dumped me for his pals

MY boyfriend has just finished with me to please his mates. They told him it was them or me and he chose them.

I know it was only because one of his mates fancies me and didn't want me going out with my boyfriend, but he won't believe me if I tell him that.

I really like him and I know he really liked me. How can I get him back?

VI'M not sure he's worth the effort. If I were you, I'd leave him alone until he shows some signs of growing up.

To be honest, I'm astonished you still have any affection for someone who's so easily prepared to dump you on the whim of his mates. I know your pride has been hurt and you've got some romantic ideas about changing his mind, but for what purpose?

Although he put the toe in the water of a one-to-one relationship, he's obviously not ready to stop being one of the boys.

It really doesn't matter if there were all kinds of shenanigans going on to split you up, the end result is the same.

He's shown you, in the clearest possible way, that he can't face going against these so-called mates and you're fooling yourself if you think you can have a proper relationship with him while his loyalties lie in their direction.EVER since my aunt came to visit, when I was five, I've had a problem with women.

She smothered me with love and affection, which deeply embarrassed me, and I had to submit to endless kisses and hugs and compliments. I remember going red as she told everyone what a lovely boy I was. And when she died recently, it broke my heart.

I'm now 40 and still daren't show any love or affection towards women for fear of embarrassment. I've never had a relationship, so how can I change?

VYOU'RE never likely to receive the kind of unconditional affection from other woman which you got from your aunt. You're going to have to earn it and that's what may be scaring you off. Instead of having

love thrust at you, you're frightened of being rejected and not measuring up to the picture of perfection she painted of you.

On the other hand, as those early physical experiences made you squirm, you might be one of those people who suffer from erotophobia, fear of physical love.

Her unwelcome kisses and big bear hugs have made you equate physical affection with embarrassment and confusion. It's such a shame because I'm sure she never intended to spoil you for other women.

Most women want friendship before a physical relationship and this will allow you to control the level of physical contact. It'll be easier for you to relax if you choose a woman who has similar interests rather than one who resembles a femme fatale.

Hit by sudden pain

MY girlfriend has been told she suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and it's really affecting our lives.

It can come on very suddenly, like when we are about to go out, and her tummy will swell up and she'll refuse to go anywhere.

She's been to the doctor many times. He just reckons it's something she'll have to live with, which really depresses her. Yet he hasn't given her any medicine or special food and I can't help thinking more could be done.

She's only 18. It's a bit early to become an invalid, isn't it?

VIT'S unlikely, at her age, she's suffering from IBS. Two other conditions could be the underlying cause of her poor health. The first is Crohn's disease which may cause pain, fever, diarrhoea and loss of weight.

The peak periods for being affected are adolescence and early adulthood, and after the age of 60. In young people, the disease causes spasms of pain in the abdomen.

Ulcerative colitis is another disease most common in young people. The main symptom is diarrhoea and there may be abdominal pain and tenderness, fever and general malaise. Usually, attacks occur at intervals of a few months.

In both cases a diagnosis can be made with a sigmoidoscopy, an outpatient procedure usually taking less than half an hour without need of an anaesthetic.

I suggest she asks her doctor for this test to be sure one way or the other.

I'M 18 and I think I'm a lesbian. I've had no sexual partner since I was raped as a child. I just know I'm not interested in men.

What's worrying me is that two years ago I found a lump in my vagina. My periods are normal and I have no lumps anywhere else but there's a history of cancer in our family and I can't help feeling there's something terribly wrong.

YOU were initiated into sex in the most cruel way and it's not surprising, given your dreadful experience, that you are anti-men.

However, although you may never be able to come to terms with being raped, deciding you're a lesbian primarily on the basis of one man's brutality, could be a recipe for disaster. It's true that tenderness plays a major role in lesbian relationships, but if you keep an open mind, you may well meet a kind and caring man who will treat you with the same kind of respect and consideration.

As a generality, it isn't normal to have distinct small lumps in the vagina so have yours checked out. But don't panic and fear the worst. The main lump in the vagina is the cervix and sometimes pimples can be felt on it, but they're normal. In some cases they're warts which would require treatment. A small, soft lump which seems to be coming out of the hole in the cervix is probably a cervical polyp and would be best removed.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Stoppard, Miriam
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 6, 2000
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