My son has been taking stimulant-based ADHD medication for over ten years, since he was a six-year-old. It has never been a perfect solution since the medication does not provide instant self-regulation nor does it address all his issues with executive functioning. Nonetheless, it has profoundly improved the quality of his life, something which he recognized even at a very young age. If fact, he chooses to take his medication since it empowers him by enhancing his ability to think before he acts.
In my son’s case, the medication has a few side effects. It suppresses his appetite so he seldom eats much during the day and tends to be underweight. (We tend to address that by ensuring he has a large healthy breakfast as recommended by his pediatrician. Whole wheat pasta with vegetable-rich meat sauce is one of his favourites.)
He also has rebound issues with the medication. The medication is active for 12 hours at the end of the efficacy period his attention deficit can be quite severe. It means that if he wishes to engage in evening actitivies, then he needs to take top up medication.
My son also has difficulty falling to sleep. I am uncertain if that relates to his ADHD medication or to other medication he takes for anxiety. His pediatrician recommended that he take melatonin to address that problem and it appears to help.
Finally, my son was could become asthmatic when he was younger. If he were prescribed prednisone after a serious asthma attack, then he could become quite aggressive. I am uncertain if that was due the interaction of medications or if it was simply how his brain responded to the steroid. Nonetheless, it was best to keep him at home if he had to take steroids. His daily asthma medication did not affect his behaviour.
While medication has helped my son address the ADHD symptoms, he has also worked with psychologists, occupational therapists, and a learning strategist to help develop self-awareness and self-regulation, address self-esteem issues, and work on improving his executive-functioning skills. I believe that working with these professionals is imperative especially for maintaining your son’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Moreover, executive-functioning skills become progressively more important as your child ages. Schools don’t teach students how to plan their work, organize their time, or decompose assignments into their component parts. This is something that many people with ADHD need to be taught by a psycho-educational specialist, an academic strategist.
I apologize for the digression, but my son is in high school and these issues have been clearly demonstrated to me.
I wish you well on this journey. I hope you are successful in choosing interventions that work well for your son and your family.