This reply was originally posted by user Traquy in ADDitude’s now-retired community.
Both me and my husband were very much against medication for our girl with ADHD, however by 3rd grade it was clear that she was not being successful with the interventions we were using. By 3rd grade things start to “get real” so I discussed with her doctor what options there were (he knew we were not interested in medication and was waiting for us to ask). He immediately said he would not give her stimulants which was a relief since that was my biggest concern. He suggested Intuniv, a non-stimulant time release medication. I have to say it has been a total game changer and I am SO happy we finally opened our minds. My daughter is now having a much happier and more successful 4th grade year. I have a friend who was in the same boat and eventually tried Straterra (another non-stimulant) and is having great success. I have not noticed any side effects aside from some initial sleepiness that was over in about 3 days. We started it over spring break last year so it would be over the sleepiness before school started again.
I think often pediatricians just default to trying stimulants first when it may not be necessary or even the best option. I would try a non-stimulant first and see if it works. I wish I had started her in 1st grade, it would have saved us 2 years of struggle and hating school and would have saved her poor teachers a world of hurt.
I just re-read your post and we also had her in a self-contained classroom starting at the end of 1st grade, 2nd grade was only 2 hours a day in mainstream class, then 3rd grade was as much mainstream as she could only going to the Learning Center class if she had behavior issues in mainstream. We started the meds spring break of 3rd grade and by the end of school last year she was in mainstream almost all day every day. This year her Learning Center teacher said to just start her in mainstream 100% with the expectation already there. She has done excellent and we are thinking she will have the Learning Center removed from her IEP at the end of this year.
My feeling is that ADHD is like any other medical condition and this is the concept that changed my husbands mind about meds. He was diagnosed with diabetes and he suddenly realized that hey, he needs medication WHILE he is changing his lifestyle, eating, behavior, etc…why is it different with our daughter? She was unhappy, suffering, struggling, and if there is a way to help her why not do it? Now I look back and I feel like it was really unfair of us to completely eliminate an option that could help her SO much.