Reply To: PLEASE HELP! On the fence about meds…

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1. How old was your child when diagnosed?
Officially diagnosed at 7yo, but like you we saw lots of issues very early on. With our son it started around 2-2.5yo.

2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?
We have been working with a behavioral therapist that suggested he had ADHD when he was around 3-4yo, so we’ve had a lot of time to discuss how to move forward if he did get an official diagnosis. Our pediatrician waits until a child is 7 before prescribing meds. He was officially diagnosed a few weeks before he turned 7 and we opted to start medication after a few weeks of researching our options.

3. If you waited, what was your final reasoning for opting to medicate vs going with other methods of treatment that don’t involve meds?
We saw a serious decline at school both in school work and social issues. We know he’s smart and capable of doing the work that was being presented, but couldn’t focus long enough to accomplish it. We received some data from his school just before his official diagnosis that indicated that he had regressed in a lot of skills and was working at a Kindergarten or Pre-K level instead of a first grade level.

4. Does your child also participate in therapy? If so, did they ever have therapy sessions before medication and did they seem to help at all before you added meds?
We’ve done behavioral therapy for over 3 years before starting any meds. None of it helped. We went as far as switching to a new therapist because of the lack of results we saw with the first one. We saw the same lack of results with the second.

5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?
We did a lot of research in this area including reading about what other families decided. One thing I can tell you is that what works for one child may not work for another, so you might have to switch medicines multiple times to get the right one at the right dose. We’re still dialing in ours as we are still new to this. We opted to go with Vyvanse because of the slow, gradual onset of the medication that doesn’t result in the “jolt” or “kick” that other medications cause. It’s metabolized in the intestines rather then in the stomach. It takes anywhere from 1-2 hours to actually start working, which we were OK with because it fit into our routine. If you need medication that works quicker, this might not be a good fit for you. It lasts about 10-12 hours, this does vary by day. You do have to give it early in the morning, because it can disrupt their sleep if it’s given too late in the day. As for dosage, I would let your pediatrician or which every doctor you are working with decide that. They will probably start low and move up as needed. Ask which prescriptions they recommend and then do research on them to chose the best one for your child.

6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without?
No, the complete opposite! My child has more focus and is able to control himself in a way I never thought possible. At school he has been complimented on his behavior over and over since starting this. He had been tiered by his teacher and a group of counselors as needing special assistance for his behavior. There are 3 tiers and he has been on the highest tier since school started. Within 3 days of adding the medication, they moved him down a tier and they expect to move him down to the lowest tier (which all children are on by default) when they meet next. That is huge for him!

7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?
Yes, we’ve talked about this over and over again, and both my husband and I agree that our child has a brighter future thanks to this medication. Our only regret is that we weren’t able to give him this tool earlier in his life. He has suffered socially because of his ADHD. Changing how other children see him now is hard and it is just going to take time for them to see that he has changed and hopefully treat him as they would any other student rather then the “bad” kid of the class.

One last note. We have a friend of the family that is a mental health counselor. We happened to see her at a party just before the official diagnosis. My husband conveyed to her that he didn’t know if we were going the right thing and that maybe he just needed to be a better parent to help him with his behavior. Spend more time with him, coach him more, etc. She quickly and plainly said, No. There was little, outside of medication, that we could do to help him. She told us about a number of families she’s worked with that felt the same way and they might see a little improvement here or there by changing things, but that in the end any that opted for medications all spoke positively about it.