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Raised On Ritalin Using Drug ‘Not A Cop-Out’ Parents Say That Ritalin’s Benefits Easily Outweigh The Side Effects

Second of three parts

Visitors to the Raynor home are likely to embark on a fast-paced tour of the split-level house, right down to the contents of some family members’ wallets.

Cole Raynor, a 9-year-old with the persistence of an aggressive salesman, is the tour guide. The circuit features the important trappings of his world: Legos, his hamster Caramel, his brother’s bowling balls and trophies.

The tour over, Cole continues to roam from his perch on the sofa.

After a school day smoothed by Ritalin, the medication is wearing off.

That means Cole is winding up.

His eyes never rest. His lanky body moves repeatedly over the living room furniture.

In one instant, he’s stiff, his head smashed into the sofa’s back cushion, his feet wedged against the coffee table. Then his loosened limbs collapse and he slides to a heap on the floor.

The next moment, he’s darting for a cream-filled cookie in the kitchen.

“We hated having adults over,” admits his mother, Charlene Raynor. “He would demand to be the center of attention.”

Charlene and Gregg Raynor decided to medicate their youngest son a year ago, after years of struggling over how best to help him.

The Raynors’ concerns began when Cole’s kindergarten teacher remarked on his lack of attention. Soon after, they moved from California to Coeur d’Alene and spent two months in a motel room, looking for a place to live.

Cole became anxious, started having stomach aches and no longer wanted to go to school. Among other fears, he worried the school bus would drive off the road.

“In first grade, when we would leave him on the (classroom) floor screaming, we decided we needed to get some help,” his mother says.

Cole wasn’t learning. His second-grade teacher recalls he would interrupt constantly and give up on tasks easily.

He was disruptive, at times aggressive. His mother still hesitates to enroll Cole in Cub Scouts or soccer.

“People look at you and assume that you are a terrible parent, that you have no control,” she says. “I feel like I’m having to apologize.”

They got counseling. Charlene Raynor decided not to work so she could be home for Cole. Eventually, at the suggestion of school staff, the boy was tested for Attention Deficit Disorder in second grade.

The results were not definitive, but a psychiatrist suggested Ritalin. After a few weeks of pondering the pros and cons, the Raynors agreed.

“We felt he needed to win, not to lose. It was not a cop-out,” his mother says.

Ritalin has been so helpful in school and social situations that his parents are willing to accept the side effects.

Cole has a hard time falling asleep, and getting up. On this particular morning, he is so drowsy his mother has to carry him out of bed.

After his lunchtime dose of Ritalin, he’s not hungry. He eats half a peanut butter sandwich - sans crust - and a cookie, filling first.

Cole dislikes taking Ritalin. His mother mixes his morning dose with sugar and water.

And if he doesn’t take it?

“I’d be fine,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. As a compromise, he only takes half his dose on weekends.

Things have changed for Cole. Until recently, he would never venture out of his cul de sac on his bike. Now he wants to ride it to school.

This spring he graduated from his special education classes in reading, math and speech.

“He’s much more focused and able to stay on task,” said his third-grade teacher, Ron Stone. “As far as academic growth, he’s made great gains.

“And,” Stone adds, “he’s happy.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Photos (2 color)

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