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Dealing with the "life-destroying, family-splitting, society-wrecking" devastation that is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) will be the topic of an day-long seminar Oct. 18 at Niagara University.

Geared for professionals but with ample, practical advice to substantially benefit parents as well, "Beyond Ritalin: Mega-Answers to AD/HD" confronts the widespread problem at the academic, psychological and physiological levels, said presenter John F. Taylor, Ph.D.

Taylor is the father of three AD/HD children and is widely regarded as one of the country's foremost authorities on the subject, having written several books, including "Helping Your Hyperactive Attention Deficit Child," considered an authoritative guide to the subject of AD/HD.

His appearance at NU is being sponsored in part by the non-profit Network of Hope, an organization of parents, teachers and other professionals dedicated to "spreading the word about food source alternatives to (AD/HD) medication," Network member Pauline Digati-DuFrane said.

The seminar is scheduled from 1 to 9 p.m. Oct. 18 in Room 127 of Dunleavy Hall. Preregistration by Oct. 9 is recommended; cost is $39 per person, or $70 for two. Checks or money orders may be mailed to Niagara D.E.T., P.O. Box 161, Lewiston, N.Y. 14092. Cost at the door will be $55.

For information, call 754-9127 or 667-6999.

A special education teacher and mother of two children -- one considered AD/HD -- Ms. Digati-DuFrane said that AD/HD is "one of the biggest problems facing children now," often manifested with "unmanageable behavior" that thwarts learning and "drives parents and teachers nuts."

But "hyperactivity" and a diminished attention span are merely the tip of the iceberg with AD/HD children and adolescents, Taylor said.

He said that 80 percent of AD/HD children also have "some sort of major academic difficulty," and that a full 50 percent of learning-disabled children also have AD/HD.

The result: chaos, in many cases.

Self-esteem plummets, family stress skyrockets. Students frequently drop out of school and turn to crime or substance abuse to escape their problems. Families are ripped apart at the seams, with sibling hatred and divorce common.

"It devastates self-esteem," Taylor said. "It often propels these children into juvenile delinquency and adult criminality and substance abuse. But we offer suggestions to help heal families, ways to avoid negative parenting."

Taylor said he will present "literally hundreds -- I counted them one time and there were over 900 -- teaching points," ideas that will improve academic achievement and "make life work at home and in school."

He offers alternatives to medication -- including the increasingly popular and perhaps over-prescribed Ritalin -- as well as ways to enhance the effects of the drug in cases where its use is warranted.

"These kids are almost automatically put on Ritalin" following diagnosis, Ms. Digati-DuFrane said. "It may be that they need that, but there are other options" such as careful diet control that avoids food dyes and preservatives.

She said that her AD/HD child's symptoms are controlled nutritionally "and it has made a huge difference. She is in a regular classroom and she is very bright."

Taylor said his techniques "really apply to any child who is troubled academically or behaviorally." Among the topics focused upon: anger control, resisting temptation, making better decisions, effective disciplinary techniques and classroom strategies.

"There are literally hundreds of classroom techniques illustrated and described," Taylor said.

Taylor is an advocate of proper nutrition as a means of combating AD/HD, saying that "eating more protein generally reduces symptoms." For those who must rely upon Ritalin, he offers tips to "avoid the zombie effect" associated with its use.

He also promises to improve note-taking abilities and substantially improve the grades of AD/HD students.

"I guarantee that if (parents) follow my methods, their children will get an A, B or C on every test they take," he said. He called his program a "fun, lively and life-changing" opportunity.

The Network of Hope will also present Laura Thompson, Ph.D., from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 19 at Niagara University. Her presentation further focuses on combating AD/HD with nutritional strategies -- in this case the use of high-protein food supplement blue-green algae.

"She has seen astonishing results with children in her practice," said Ms. Digati-DuFrane.

Tickets for that seminar are $25 before Oct. 9, or $30 at the door, available as previously mentioned.