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Letters : Article on Hyperactive Children

February 02, 1985

T.W. McGarry's article on hyperactivity (Jan. 21) did a great disservice to hyperactive children and their families.

By starting out the article with a quote from the play, "The Bad Seed," he incorrectly and unfairly equated hyperactivity with badness. Hyperactive behavior may be chronic and have an early onset, but it does not involve a criminal mind that lacks a conscience. His parallel was way off. If a parallel is to be made at all, hyperactive children are more like "Dennis the Menace" than the little girl in "The Bad Seed." Most hyperactive youngsters get into trouble out of poor impulse control and not because of premeditative evil. They feel remorse and guilt and, like the cartoon figure Dennis, do not quite understand the adult reactions to the chaos they create around them.

Your article used sensationalism to capture the attention of readers. I expect that in weekly tabloids that one picks up at the market, but not in a well-respected daily newspaper such as the L.A. Times. I feel you owe an apology to all the hyperactive children who have to try so hard all day to conform to society's standards. They do not need the extra stigma of being labeled as "bad seeds."

JUDY STEINGIESER

Woodland Hills

Steingieser is a child development specialist at the Good Beginnings Parenting Center .

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