Dear ADDitude: What Should I Expect From Quillivant?

“Our son has been struggling so much in school, and feeling so sad we decided to try medication. He started on Quillivant XR. What should we watch out for?”

ADHD Schoolboy reading at his desk in an elementary school class
ADHD Schoolboy reading at his desk in an elementary school class

ADDitude Answers

When I look back at pictures of my son around age 5, he’s crying in the majority of them, no matter the circumstances. He was diagnosed with ADHD shortly after turning 6. He was sad and crying all the time because he could never meet expectations, no matter how hard he tried.
He started medication a couple weeks after diagnosis and that began to turn things around.

He’s 13 now, and still a really emotional and sensitive kid, but he isn’t crying at everything all the time and calling himself “stupid” and “bad” all the time.

ADHD medication was a gift for him.

Posted by Penny Williams (ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, and Mom to Pre-Teen Boy w/ ADHD and LDs)

A Reader Answers

The decision to medicate or not is a tough one and every parent does a lot of research before coming to a conclusion. I know I did!

Typically, medications started at a minimal dose and gradually increased based on how your child reacts. You will want to monitor how well the medication controls symptoms and watch out for side effects.

Many kids lose their appetites. Keep track of your child’s eating, and plan to add shakes/smoothies/protein bars to supplement his diet. Try to get your son to eat a full, high-protein breakfast before his morning meds kick in. Plan for an evening snack after meds wear off in the evening. We used to put yogurt smoothies in his lunch thermos as our son was more likely to sip a drink than eat at that time.

The doctor will be monitoring the medication’s impact on your child’s overall health. It can also help to ask teachers for feedback about ADHD symptoms and behavior while you’re trying to find the right dosage. When my son first started taking them at age 6, we saw major difference in his focus in the first week.

You also need to monitor how he is sleeping. If he can’t sleep, you may need to lower the dose or timing. It is important to know that all kids are different and respond differently. If one medication does not work or has troublesome side effects, you can try another till you find the right fit. Don’t compare doses to other children, that is very individual and based on part on rate of person’s metabolism, not size or age.

There are many studies that show kids who are medicated for ADHD are less inclined to use illicit drugs later in life. Many people are under the impression that these drugs lead to illegal drug abuse. It’s actually is the opposite, kids who are properly medicated are less likely to self-medicate with other drugs.

Posted by Peacfldove

A Reader Answers

Quillivant dosage is controlled by the amount of powder added to water, so it’s easy to change the dose. Don’t be surprised if the first amount or two don’t work. It will take some trial and error to get it right. Some people who don’t respond well to Quillivant move on to another medication like Ritalin or Adderall. Finding the right medication and dosage is a really important time.

Make sure your doctor has told you how to evaluate its effectiveness. Let your child’s teacher know what is going on so that he or she can help you judge if symptoms are improving. Explain to the principal that your child has ADHD, and you are actively working on managing symptoms, so he doesn’t get in trouble for a medical condition. You may want to look into an IEP or 504 plan to help him in school.

Don’t give your son any food or drinks with citric acid – like orange juice – before taking the medication. It makes them less effective.

There’s a good chance that medication will help with your son’s depression, but what will also help is understanding more about ADHD and how the symptoms affect him. Depression and anxiety commonly co-occur with ADHD.

Posted by Sandman2

A Reader Answers

It shouldn’t take more than one week for your son to adjust. Usually you would try a low dose for one week (20 mg for Quillivant) and then increase by 10 mg and see how he does for another week. The philosophy is low and slow. My son started with Quillivant, but didn’t like the taste of the liquid. So we taught him to swallow pills using tic-tacs. We made a big deal about it, and “graduated” him up to pills, as soon as he could. That will open up the options for you, if your son doesn’t do well with Quillivant.

Posted by RhodeIslandMom

A Reader Answers

My 5 year old has been taking Quillivant XR for about a month. We’ve tried all the ADHD meds, like everyone else :-), and this is by far the best results we’ve seen. The medicine kicked in after about 45 minutes. He was focused and participated in class. My son’s mood is even and his hyperactivity is controlled. It lasts him 10 hours and he still needs a booster of methelphinidate around 5pm to get us through the evening, and homework.

When the Quillivant wears off in the evening, he has a rebound of symptoms. He’s whiny and moody, not as even tempered after the booster. The Quillivant XR is great, though, after crushing pills and having to dose a 5 year old every 4 hours before, we are very happy with a liquid medication, now.

Posted by MobyMiller

This question was originally asked on the ADDConnect forums.