Guest Blogs

Focalin for ADHD

We are trying a new medication, Focalin, to treat Natalie’s ADHD to see how the effects differ from Ritalin.

Welcome to Day Four!

Of Natalie’s new ADHD medication, that is.

My consultation with Dr. Halbur resulted in a switch from the old reliable short-acting Ritalin to Focalin XR. Dr. Halbur described Focalin to this layperson as follows: It’s Ritalin with one molecule removed, and because of that slight difference, it’s less likely to cause irritability or to suppress appetite. Since we’re using the 12-hour extended release formulation, we’re hoping to see more consistent effects throughout the day to help with Nat’s concentration at school.
The dose she’s taking should be equivalent to a small increase in dosage as compared to her Ritalin regimen.

We instituted the change on Saturday morning, so that we could spend two full days with Natalie while she adjusted. Then we sent her to spend the entire afternoon with her Other Parents. She went to Harry’s to play. Her O.P.s reported exactly what we observed that day — a slightly manic-y happiness and motor-excitement. We chalked part of that up to a thrilling new phenomenon — Bobby — joining Harry and Natalie for the day.

The most notable difference we’ve seen so far is Nat’s appetite building from day to day like an incoming tsunami.

I worked until 9:00 last night, but Don said she ate a good supper, and then continued to eat all evening, right up until bedtime. This morning for breakfast she had a bowl of cereal, a bowl of ice cream, and a blueberry nutra-grain waffle. In addition to all that, she requested pancakes. Makes me feel like we’ve been starving the poor kid. Maybe she’ll be able to hold up those size 6X Slim jeans before long.

The jury’s still out on the overall success of this change, but I’m optimistic.

Does your child take Focalin? How does it stack up compared to other ADHD meds your child has tried?

2 Comments & Reviews

  1. Oh dear, this worries me just a little. I don’t have a child taking Focalin, *I’m* taking Focalin. But I’ve been on the “regular” kind that lasts only 4-5 hours. So I’ve been taking it 3 times a day. It always makes me extremely talkative about an hour after I take it.
    I also have bipolar II and possibly hypersomnia. The Focalin helps with the hypersomnia, but could potentially make me manic. I have an anxiety pill I take with it that makes me sleepy if taken alone. But when I take the two together, they do a fairly good job of balancing each other out.
    My doctor and I just decided to try the slow release Focalin so I don’t have those waxes and wanes in energy and attention. I’ll still be taking the anxiety pill 3 times a day (or I might wean it down by a 1/2 pill, if I see I don’t need it as much).
    But hearing that your daughter is rather manic…oh, I hope that doesn’t happen. I can’t afford a hypomanic episode. 😫

  2. My daughter was 7.5 (1st grade) when she started taking Focalin (Generic name: Dexmethylphenidate) which ended up working for 2.5 YEARS until she was totally maxed out on both the XR and IR dosages. We had a few trial and errors with medications before her psychiatrist decided to try it. Trial and error with medication is NOT fun! So, when she started taking the Dexmethylphenidate, she started out with an AM dose of 10mg XR. She was doing well on that, but we needed that afternoon ‘bump’ to get through homework and sports. She began taking a 2.5mg IR when she got home from school while still taking the 10mg XR in the AM. After a few weeks, he bumped her afternoon dosage to 5mg IR. She was doing pretty good on those dosages until she hit a MAJOR growth spurt at the end of 1st grade! She shot up almost 5” over the summer!!!! With the growth spurt came a dosage bump. She was bumped up to a 20mg XR AM dose while staying at the 10mg IR afternoon dose. Again, she did pretty well on that for a while. Another growth spurt came and with that came another dosage bump. This cycle continued until the summer that she turned 10. In the end, she was totally maxed out on both the XR and IR. She was taking a 40mg XR and 5mg IR in the AM, a 5mg IR after lunch and a 10mg IR in the afternoon. We were very sad when we hit the max dosage for both the XR and IR since we knew that when it began to stop working we would have to switch medications and I was dreading the trial and error again. All in all, we were VERY PLEASED with the way Dexmethylphenidate worked and definitely how long it worked for our daughter. Just like with all medications though, what works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for another person. The same is to be said about the side effects of a medication. Our daughter didn’t gain any significant weight while on it until she was almost 9. Instead, her weight was almost the exact same when she was 7.5 until she was almost 9. The only significant difference between 7.5 and almost 9 was height. She went from being 4’ tall to 5’ 1” tall. She was a chunky girl even though she has played soccer spring, summer and fall plus did gymnastics year round. Once the growth spurts hit, she thinned out a lot! In fact, when people see her 1st grade and 2nd grade school pictures, the change is so dramatic that they say she barely looks like the same kid! Good luck and I hope it works as well for your daughter as it did for mine!

Leave a Reply