Reply To: Afraid of medication side effects

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Devon Frye

This reply was originally posted by user brlk13 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

@Frannie84: Sending you good thoughts as you start this journey. My key piece of advice is watch your son closely and literally take notes on anything you notice that’s different — good or bad — so you can give detailed feedback to the doctor. If you can get his teachers on board to give you written feedback as well that’s an added bonus. As to what you can expect? It really just depends on your child’s reaction. I would say first off, don’t expect extreme changes immediately. Doctors will start with a low dose of any med, see if your child tolerates it and then gradually increase the dose until you’re seeing positive changes without negative side effects. With stimulants like Vyvanse, once you hit the right dose you’ll know pretty quickly whether or not they’re helping (or causing issues) because they don’t need time to build up in your child’s system like some of the non-stimulants like Intuniv or Straterra. We literally have tried everything on the market except Daytrana. I knew immediately with Concerta and Adderall that they wouldn’t work for him because of the negative side effects. We tried Intuniv (guanfacine) and Kapvay which did not improve his behavior but made him so tired that he was emotional and grumpy. Straterra alone did not help him focus, but we found it improved his impulsivity. Vyvanse alone helped him focus better but he was still impulsive and started to develop some OCD type behaviors. But the combination of Vyvanse and Straterra work well. He can focus, is less impulsive and doesn’t have the negative side effects seen at other times. It’s not magic — he still has an IEP with accommodations, still receives supports from OT and the counselors, still has the occasional meltdown and he still requires redirection but the meds allow him to be directed and stay on task for extended periods of time where without them he cannot. The meds keep him from doing impulsive things like non-stop talking/interrupting, taking off without permission on field trips/family trips, running out into the street without looking, etc. My point is, it could take time and even when you find it, meds alone will not solve all the issues — but they will give him the chance to solve them. I wish you the best.