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“It’s My Son’s Body and Journey—and His Decision to Take Meds or Not”

My son now understands, and feels, how his ADHD medicine helps him.

“It’s a really hard decision, but I think I will do better if I take it.”

This is a response to a question about taking his medicine this summer or taking a drug holiday, a decision placed in the hands of my rapidly growing soon-to-be 12-year-old.

Several years ago, when eating and getting heavier  were significant concerns of his pediatrician and parents, the adults collectively concluded that weekend and vacation breaks from his stimulant regimen was in his best interest.

[“The Biggest Lie I Ever Told My Son”]

It probably was. While he is still a slighter human than many, he blends right in at his middle school. He is growing, so now we have the luxury of choice.

He is also getting older, and giving him a voice in this process is timely if not imperative for its long-term success.

As the mother of a child who needs the support of stimulants to negotiate the rigors of his school day, until this week I have yet to actually see how his medication affects him. I have relied on anecdotal and second-hand reports from his teachers and the often-glowing report cards and IEP updates that have shown that the medication is making a difference.

But the child I saw was from 2:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, when the medication’s effects were dissipating, and on weekends and vacations when he took in nothing but the great amount of food his body called for. I had no sense of comparison. For the last several years I have only, technically known my son without medication.

[“They Say I Rushed to Medicate My Child”]

But he understands, feels how his medicine helps him — helps him be less impulsive, make better decisions. And when I asked him what he wanted his summer to look like, he said that.

When you think about it, it’s really what any of us would want for our summer, for our lives — self-control, tranquility, and peace.

The fact that an 11-year-old can recognize this need and seek out the steps necessary for him to achieve it gives me strength.

The operative words are “for him.” This is his body, his journey, and his decision.

This is only the beginning for me as his mother to make peace with that reckoning.



Updated on March 4, 2020

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  1. At what age are they old enough to make that kind of decision?
    My son is nine and it is a challenge to get him to take his meds in a school day. We don’t do on weekends, unless we have planned activities. Summer, I give it to him on daycamp days, swimming lessons etc, but let him have weekends off as he says “they fill me up… I don’t like food anymore… I want to be able to eat”.. It breaks my heart.
    Though I do know they make a massive difference to his ability to succeed and focus enough to function and not be disruptive. Days he doesn’t take it, I get calls from the teacher. Medicated days, glowing reports..
    Part of me has guilt that I am medicating him so he will behave. Though in reality I know it is more than that. I also have ADHD, after being diagnosed (after he was), I started taking stimulants and they have changed my life…
    I do believe it is his body… Though as the adult, I feel it is my obligation to make the ultimate decision.. I feel torn daily..

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