Dear Doctors:

I have an 8-year-old son who is hyperactive. He's wearing me out. My babysitter finds it hard to manage him and children either avoid him or live in fear that he will assault them. His teachers are constantly calling and he's been suspended from school three times -- although he is only in the second grade. His temper and inappropriate behavior are frightening.

My son has been diagnosed as hyperactive with emotional problems. He was on Ritilan once, but I was cut off from Medicaid and, therefore, had to stop treatment.

I put him in a Catholic school thinking the strict environment would help. Nothing much has changed. Help! A Reader. Dear Reader:

Your child should be under the care of a medical doctor. The doctor should determine whether he needs medicine, psychological counseling, or both; perhaps counseling for both of you (or family counseling if there are other family members would be advisable.

If you work and have any income beyond absolute essentials, I suggest you use it to pay for treatment for your son. Can other members of your family help out financially? If not, you should present your situation to a public hospital or public welfare officials. If they cannot help you obtain treatment for your son, we suggest that you seek aid and support in obtaining treatment from a legal aid organization, your local political representative or minister.

The level of problem you describe is serious indeed. Your son is of an age when it is important for youngsters to be developing inner control and good relationship skills -- with parents, brothers and sisters, other children, babysitters and teachers. It is a time, too, when children should be able to sit still, concentrate and learn basic skills. Children who are unable to do so sometimes fall behind socially and academically, become angry and frustrated and begin a "downhill course" in school, and sometimes in life.

We have not examined your child, and therefore, cannot make a diagnosis. But the kind of problems he is having suggests that the hyperactivity is due more to environmental conditions and his emotional reaction to them, than to biological causes of hyperactivity.

Are you living under great stress? Is there marital trouble, conflict with your family, loneliness, fatigue? These conditions can affect your child. If so, in addition to obtaining treatment for your child, you must give attention to reducing the stress.

Obviously if reducing the stress could have been done easily, you wouldn't have written. It will not be easy, but it is important to try. Often, parents under stress focus on the problems of their children without facing up to their own problems.

Although the problem you describe may be largely that of your child, you might want to seek help for yourself, too. Dear Doctors:

Your recent article about diet and hyperactivity was interesting, but some claim that there are more than 8 million people in the United States today who cannot tolerate fluorides.

An article by Harold Burkhart, a dentist, about 10 years ago stated: "When sodium fluoride is added to the water supply, the people drink hydrochloric acid, an extremely active and dangerous poison. The action of fluorides in paralyzing nerve cells in the brain, referred to as chemical lobectomy, is similar to surgical lobectomy, which is the severing of certain nerves in the front portion of the brain -- producing a lackadaisical attitude, with overindulgence in sex, alcohol, sleep, food and spending money."

Doesn't this sound like today's teens? A Reader Dear Reader:

Thoughout world history, adults have complained about the problems of youth. Most young people, however, are doing fine.

The increased severity of teen-age problems is probably due to the increased complexity of the world -- and not to fluoride or other addictive intake.

On the other hand, as we have said before in this column, we do not wish to discount the possibility that food additives and certain kinds of foods may be responsible for some behavior problems of particular individuals. However, parents should beware of "scientists" and other individuals pushing untested or not fully tested viewpoints for personal gain rather than individual health improvement reasons.

We suggest that parents consult a doctor about food allergies or reactions when their children have unexplained behavior problems. The diagnosis and treatment should be left to doctors -- not to people selling ideas and miracle cures.