PLEASE HELP! On the fence about meds…

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    • #103513

      To parents of children under 10 with ADHD Combined Type (with a behavioral component), specifically those whose issues include impulse control and emotional regulation, we have questions for you.

      Background: Our 7 year old son was diagnosed at the end of June 2018 with exactly the above. It’s been an issue since he was 3, and gets progressively worse as he ages; particularly the impulsivity, lack of emotional control, and the defiance. We were offered a prescription for Concerta, but while I’m leaning more toward filling it, my husband still has serious doubts. So to those of you willing to answer these questions, thank you in advance for your honest input. With that said, a questionnaire:

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed?
      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?
      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?
      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?
      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?
      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without?
      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?

      Any information you care to provide in addition to the answers to these questions would be most helpful. Again, thank you in advance for your time, and for your help! We just want what’s best for our son.


    • #104525

      Hi, I have two kids who are both ADHD and medicated, as am I. tl;dr: the medication has been life changing, why did we wait so long?

      I’ll give you the chronology for our family. Note that the Boy is 4 years older than the Girl:
      1) we concluded informally that the Boy, age 5, had ADHD.
      2) We began non-medication interventions, which helped.
      3) I was diagnosed an began Adderall
      4) Daughter was diagnosed at age 5. Began non-medication interventions. Kind of helped? Not really.
      5) The Boy started Concerta in grade 5. Reason: he was falling behind in social skills, and there was no way he’d gain ground in middle school. IMMEDIATE difference.
      6) Four months later the Girl asked if she could try meds. Reason: she could see how much easier my and my son’s relationship had become, and all the success he was having.
      7) Girl on Concerta, worked okay for awhile, has switched to Vyvance and that’s working better.

      They’re now in middle and high school, and I can’t imagine life without the medication. He can miss a day here or there, but if she misses, it’s *hard* on everyone.

      Zero regrets, except why did we hesitate. If they don’t work, you can stop them immediately, there is almost nothing to lose in trying.

    • #104802

      I just barely started my 7 yr old on meds. It was a tough decision, but I was diagnosed with add at age 30 and was prescribed Adderall and the effect was immediate and life altering. I cried. Life was so much easier and more beautiful with my “brain glasses” on. I could not believe “normal” people had always had the advantage of a clear brain and calm body and I could not believe the amount of things that I thought were normal that dissipated with medication. The volume of the scurrying voices in my head turned way down and I was able to stop and smell the roses. My capacity for patience, love, and living in the moment was hugely amplified (by amplified I mean to a neurotypical level, though it was a huge difference for me). I just wish I had it sooner. The other thing is, with ADD, you kind of think, “Well, if I could just get it right this time, things will be better.” I cannot tell you how many times I created routines for myself, to do lists, and other things that normal, functioning people do. I even found myself “studying” other people so I could get it together like them. The moment the meds kicked in, I realized I would have never been able to maintain a to do list or a self-imposed routine without the help of medication. My brain just could not manage normal strategies under those unmedicated circumstances. I do not have experience with formal alternative strategies, just with my own perpetual self-improvement plan failures.

      Then again, I understand your conflict and it does feel weird giving your kid daily brain meds. But, honestly glasses for your brain is such an accurate description of how this medication feels. It does not alter your personality. It allows your personality to finally show through as all the chaos moves aside.

    • #104806

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed?
      He was 6 years old. (Grade 1; but like you, we had seen signs for years)

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?
      He started on medication last spring at age 7. Our psychiatrist recommended that we first learn everything we can about ADHD, and didn’t recommend medication unless he was experiencing problems at home, school, and with friends.

      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 tried behavioural methods, but they weren’t working. He was having a difficult time completing work and not being defiant towards school staff – despite his teacher utilizing all of the intervention strategies we could think of. And he was continually losing his mind on his little brother and pummeling him, leaving bruises. He also was not making friends at his new school.

      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?
      Yes he did and still does occasionally. We noticed immediately in therapy that he wasn’t going to be able to function without medication. He truly couldn’t really hear what the counselor was talking about with him. After medication, he was able to hear what she was saying, and was able to work on improving his anxiety, AND he STOPPED ABUSING his brother!!! He continues to see the school counselor on an occasional basis.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage? He is about 70lbs and takes 40mg of Biphentin once per day. The psychiatrist said that Biphentin is usually better for younger children because the dosing is stronger in the morning and a bit weaker in the afternoon. Most elementary schools teach the core subjects during the mornings. He recommended Concerta when he reaches middle school because Concerta’s dosing is somewhat opposite of that: slightly weaker in the morning, and a bit stronger in the afternoon. (middle school schedules can vary a great deal)

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without? Honestly, no. Initially, he experienced some mood swings that struck every couple of hours. But once we realized that the mood swings were probably connected to the dose drops of the Biphentin, he was able to cope with those. The mood swings lasted for about a week before they went away.

      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?
      We are all very happy with the decision – our son included (who is now 8). He enjoys school, and gets along really well with his teacher and his younger brother. The biggest difference for him was socially though. Before medication, he used to come home and tell me every day, “Jack/Tristan/Madalyn was mean to me today.” And he was really on/off with friendships (mostly off). After medication, he came home happy, telling me about how he played with Jack/Tristan/Madalyn, etc and that they’re friends now, and how he felt that the other kids liked him.
      That struck me as so incredible: How the ADHD brain is more likely to perceive others’ actions/words as negative, and is more likely to remember the negative and dwell on it. And with medication, he was able to see the positive side of his peers. He still has some conflict here and there, but it isn’t daily and pervasive like it was before.

      I hope my responses help you and your wife come to an agreement. Good luck 🙂

    • #105152


      My son was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD when he was five. We decided to focus on the short term on behaviour therapies.

      I was diagnosed at 41. I went on medication and found my behaviour improved in the short-term but after a few months I found that my behaviour hadn’t really hadn’t sustainability changed my anxiety levels were through the roof.

      I fell pregnant, and came off the medication, which I found incredible difficult. It was like my brain wouldn’t start.

      Not long after the paediatrician changed my son’s diagnosis to a co-morbidity with dyspraxia. We have continued with behaviour therapy and, now that he’s 7 and a half, things are heading in the right direction.

      We now understand that his ADHD symptoms were largely frustration from having poor fine motor skills and procedural memory associated with dyspraxia.

      I’m pleased we delayed the medication and continued to seek further understanding about what was driving the inattentive behaviour.

    • #105156

      Hope this helps.
      1. & 2. My son was 3 when the daycare asked us to get him tested. The doctor was pissed. She said the the daycare was failing him and she would not even consider diagnosing him until after he was in school. In kindergarten his teacher discussed his issues with us and agreed we should have him tested. He was 6 when diagnosed and started methylphenidate 5mg/mL twice a day. I had plenty of time to research and discovered I was and had always been ADHD. The decision to medicate was based on my experiences as a child. I did NOT want my son to suffer as I did and to give him a shot at a halfway decent childhood.
      3.&4. If you wait and use therapy, that’s wonderful. Give him all the resources he can get! Not only for him but you too! This is lifelong.
      5 &6. He is now on methylphenidate 10mg/mL twice a day. He started to develop OCD behaviors such as saying the same phrase over and over, rewalking the last 3 steps he’s taken but it seems to be few and far between. I’m monitoring this and will discuss with his doctor in January. He is a thin child and the medicine suppresses his appetite so I feed him as much as he will eat in the morning and afternoon/night when the meds are not in his system.
      He is doing well on the meds but they are not perfect. He still has problems focusing when the medicine starts to wear off and working independently at school but he is not being disruptive or fighting with kids he wants to be his friends anymore. This is not going to be a static situation so communication with his teacher and doctor is important. The medicine has helped him and that’s all I can do at this moment in his life.

      Good luck on your decision and you are not alone!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by trmarain.
    • #105163

      I could have written this post 2 months ago. You have exactly described our son, also 7. We saw signs very early on (before kindergarten) but never had him officially diagnosed until he was unable to complete ANY work in 2nd grade and was not only distracted but becoming a distraction to the class. We had been using routines, printed visual charts, workbooks, magnesium supplements, nutritional supplements, Epsom baths…you name it. Behavior modifications are great and we also practice positive parenting, but when your child cannot focus to process anything it becomes a huge cycle of frustration for all involved. In order to get a plan in place at school we had to label it and finally got him diagnosed. I cried the second she mentioned stimulants. I never wanted to give my child ‘drugs’ but seeing him struggle in every area of his life was enough for me to swallow my mom guilt over medicating my child. She started him on Concerta 18mg and day one I noticed an immediate difference… He heard me for maybe the first time. He was present. However, that same afternoon he had a massive crash and the most epic tantrum ever. We rode it out for 2 weeks as directed and some things got better but he was still falling behind at school and we started to see some aggression and he was super fidgety. She switched him to Vyvanse and what was awesome about that is there is no waiting to see how it’s going to affect him so we’d know pretty quickly if it was a good fit. Lucky for us, attempt number two on medicine was a hit for him and he is finally able to keep up at school and regulate his emotions and actually have conversations with me and others. He’s a different kid without having any ill side effects. He takes 20 mg of Vyvanse and then 7.5 mg Adderall in the afternoon since the Vyvanse does wear off pretty quickly, he needs something to get him through homework and karate. Seeing the difference in him at school and with his siblings and friends in the neighborhood I have zero regrets about giving him medication. Do I wish that I didn’t have to? Of course. But that’s our reality. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD at age 27 shortly after we were married (15 years ago) and has just recently started taking the same medication as my middle son and we are in the process of having our 13 year old daughter diagnosed… I had no idea it presented so differently in girls until I immersed myself in research after E was diagnosed and now it’s crystal clear to us. I am hopeful that when she can start medicine she will see a huge difference in her life as well. We are selective with who we tell because of the judgement but anyone who wants to question our decision to medicate our child who has a neurobiological disorder can take him home for a week (unmedicated) and let me know their plan to ‘fix’ it.

    • #105165

      Good morning,

      I know exactly how you and your husband feel. We knew right away from birth that our son was going to need extra attention. He would only fall asleep if we bounced him and it was a very specific way we had to bounce him and he could tell the difference (we obtained very strong calfs lol). I was diagnosed with adult ADHD a few years ago and looking at my parents, my father definitely has ADHD even though he has never been diagnosed (I can just tell and so can others). So it all started to make sense the more and more I researched and found out more about ADHD.

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed? – Our son was 5 just turning 6 when we started seeing people about his behavior.

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait? – My wife has worked with children and has a degree in child development so we tried since he was really little to do what we could at home with the knowledge she has. When it came to meeting with people we were hesitant at first because there is always a part of you in the back of your mind that will want you to not medicate a child. We did eventually start medicating because it helped me so much it was like a switch turning on in my brain and i didn’t want our son to struggle in life like I did.

      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? – While it is highly possible that kids and adults can function without taking meds, for some it does work. For myself i tried for a couple years to control my ADHD without taking meds and it just wasn’t working and it was taking a toll on my wife having to care for multiple “children”. Meds will not 100% make everything better, but it will give someone with ADHD a jump start (depending on the person obviously) and other things can be learned at a more leisurely pace I guess you could say. Again, this is for our case, ADHD effects many people in many different ways.

      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? – Our son does not currently participate in therapy because the meds have seemed to help so much that the therapist said there wasn’t really anything that we’d need to come in and see him for at this time. Obviously as he gets older and school becomes more difficult we may need help then but with him being so young and in kindergarten and loving school, there is no need for therapy at this time.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage? – Our son takes an extended release 10mg of methylphenidate (Ritalin) in the morning which usually wears off around 3-4pm and then he takes a 5mg short acting methylphenidate after school which helps him at home and helps him to fall asleep (I know a stimulant to help you get to sleep, but it helps calm the brain. I take the same medication he does and it helps calm my brain so I’m not awake thinking about everything).

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without? – So far there has been no negative differences in our son since he has started his meds. It has all been positive. It literally brought tears to our eyes to see the difference in our son’s behavior and actions while taking meds. He is able to focus and have conversations with us now. He used to be constantly stuck in the ADHD “world” where he was hearing us but couldn’t focus long enough to talk about anything. At supper time instead of constantly wiggling in his seat and falling off his chair getting hurt, he actually sits down with us and eats his food while we talk about our day and what he did in school.

      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets? – It has been amazing seeing our son’s transformation after taking meds. We just seem like an all around happier family. We ask him all the time if he likes taking the medication and how it makes him feel and he has said that he is happy that his brain and body can be calm. My wife and I have both shed our tears both from sadness and happiness. Sadness because we didn’t think we were good parents and weren’t doing enough but happiness that we can now feel happier, not having to yell as much because we get frustrated over every little thing.

      I have ADHD so I apologize for the long responses but ADHD is a very passionate subject for me and I could go on for days. The most important thing to remember is that you are good parents. Yes its ok to get frustrated and feel how you do on those difficult days. The act of trying to help your child shows that you care and love them. Another thing to remember is that just because you start a medication, doesn’t mean you have fully committed to giving your child meds forever. You can always stop the meds. Like I said, meds don’t work for everyone but it has worked for us and I am so glad that both my son and I take meds.

      Hope this helps. I am always open to talk about anything so feel free to send me a message if you have any other questions and I’ll do what I can to help. I always recommend a YouTube channel called “How to ADHD”. The woman, Jessica, has ADHD and she is amazing at presenting what a person with ADHD is going through and give awesome tips that can help anyone with ADHD no matter the age. She also has a TED talk that is AMAZING.

      Have a great day!

    • #105168

      I would like to comment on this post. My son who is now 9 was just now professionally diagnosed with adhd- innatentive type. Slight ODD not much. We put two and two together when he was in 2nd grade, but each teacher tried to tell us before that and we just chalked it up to being a young boy behavior. The older our son got the more it was to handle his adhd. Not just for those around him, but for himself too. I avoided meds at all costs. We did several different alternatives. Nothing helped. Diet, cognitive behavior, structure lifestyle… NOTHING. It wasn’t until we had his 4th grade parent teacher conference and his sweet teacher was in tears for our son. She said in the 18years she had been teaching she had never seen it this bad. His impulse control, and forgetfulness, relationships with peers, and family were all suffering. The only thing that wasn’t suffering were his grades. He’s very smart. This disorder has nothing to do with intelligence. After really coming to reality that his quality of life is suffering. I decided it was time. We decided to go with 10mg of Ritalin. After an hour long conversation with our dr about the different types of medicine and how each one reacts in the body that is the one we decided to go with. I liked that it’s been around the longest, and it was able to be given as needed and not necessary for weekends and summer. Also the scary side effects you read about for meds like this have not been an issue for us at all. So thank god for that. It’s only been about two months and our life has been turned completely around. He’s making friends, his teacher isn’t struggling to keep him on task, at home his relationship with his brother has drastically improved, us as parents are in ah over how he listens, remembers to use his manners, pays attention to the world around him. He’s not a robot. He is still my funny, quirky, little boy I’ve always loved but with out all the fog. It’s like before he was living in a cloud and now he’s free. One of the best things that’s been the most impressive change is his confidence. He feels more comfortable to try new things, say what’s on his mind in class, give compliments, and all around be engaging with Those around him. One very important thing the dr told us to make sure we did, was not talk about the medicine with him. If you treat it like a fix all pull, or the answer to everything they will grow up learning that this is what you need in order to do well. We give it to him along with his vitamin in the morning and treat it like a supplement. I told him once that this picks up where your body lacks just like a calcium or any supplement does. He also casually mentioned once that it helps him and he can tell that it helps him. So I think that’s a good thing. I’ve been very aware of making sure he is eating, sleeping, growing and no side effects are happening and so far so good. I have hopes that as he gets older he will no longer need this medicine but at the same time if he does than so be it. We will cross those bridges together when the time comes. For the longest time I felt like it wasn’t my place to medicate someone else. I never felt comfortable with that. But I will say at the end of that parent teacher meeting I asked one last question and that was “does my son have any friends” her answer was no not really. I knew at that moment it was lent fair to him anymore he needed my help, and that is my responsibility. I needed to intervene and I have no regrets. Good luck on your journey.

    • #105169

      I’m actually right there with you about to medicate or not to medicate?
      My son was 3 when I began seeing symptoms. I myself was diagnosed at 30 year’s old. He started preschool at 4 and that’s when we decided to see a doctor for help. His teacher and daycare worker were both great at helping us give the doctor as much information as possible.
      He was diagnosed with combination ADHD. So far we have only been giving him Ferrous Sulfate 5mgs a day, which started at age 4. He’s now 5 and in Kindergarten and I just made an appointment to talk to the doctor about perhaps trying a medication. While the sulfur did absolutely help in the beginning, it’s just not really having much affect anymore.
      So I am at odds right with you, but as soon as I was diagnosed I did a ton of research and the only thing really helping me make this decision is that it’s really a lack in the brain, which the medication fills. So scientifically I understand that it makes total sense. But as a Mom of course we’re going to go through a million emotions and questions.
      I do want to say thank you to everyone who has answered these questions because you guys have been beyond helpful!!! And very reassuring! I know I didn’t ask the questions but I definitely needed to! Good luck with your decision, I think that a lot of the parents had a great point that you can always stop the medication at anytime. That really helped me feel better about my decision. Ha, I guess everyone really did just help me make up my mind! Thanks for your questions and I appreciate everyone’s feedback! Good luck to everyone!!! 🙂

    • #105173

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed?

      She had just turned 9 and was in the third grade. We knew something was going on well before that, but didn’t know what. She was well behind her peers in reading and was ‘immature’ for her age. About 5 months after my daughter was diagnosed, I was diagnosed and my whole life finally made sense to me.

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?

      No, and it was because my husband was apprehensive. He had heard about children turning into ‘zombies’ on medication. Since I had been diagnosed and tried counseling without a lot of progress other than eliminating my anxiety (from not ever being able to get work/projects/planning done), I decided to try medication for myself. Once my husband saw what a difference it made for me, he agreed to let her try it if she wanted to. I tried three meds before landing with Concerta (Adderall XR wore off to quickly and Vyvance made me so irritable I could hardly stand to be in my own skin). When she decided she wanted to try it, we started with Concerta and she has been on the lowest dose for 9 months now.

      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?

      I did counseling first and then meds while my daughter did meds and then counseling. Neither are enough on their own. We have to go to counseling to support the medication. The treatment really can’t be just counseling or just meds or just diet, or whatever else you have read ‘works’ to treat ADHD. It has to be a lifestyle change with support from many different areas. My daughter’s behavior is better, her anxiety is much better and I think she is so much happier, but it takes several different interventions to achieve it.

      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?

      See above.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?

      Concert, 18 mg. She tried the 27 mg to see if it would give an extra boost (mostly for behavioral issues), but she didn’t feel good on it (shaky, no appetite, pounding heart, etc.). These can be symptoms at the beginning, but usually wear off as the body gets used to the medication; maybe after a week or so.

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without?

      No meds = lots of behavioral issues. We will let her skip it on the weekends (there is no medical reason to do so, but sometimes she just doesn’t want to take it), but there is a very noticeable difference in her behavior. The only days she has received redirections at school (demerits) are on days when she forgot to take her Concerta.

      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?

      I regret that we didn’t do it sooner. However, she caught up to her peers and is now above reading level for her grade, and while I don’t think she will ever enjoy reading, at least she can read to learn, which is so very important.

      Here is the long and short of it… If your son tries the Concerta and it makes him feel bad, or he can’t sleep or eat, try a different medication or try a different dose. Sometimes there is a lot of trial and error that goes along with the medication journey. I would HIGHLY recommend going to a child psychiatrist who can help you navigate the journey. They are experts at medication and will work with you to make sure everything is going well. I have to pay out of pocket to see my psychiatrist for medication, but it is so worth it.

      The other aspect is that stimulants are in and out of his system in 10-12 hours. If he tries it and it’s not good, it’s just one day. In as much, I would recommend trying it over the winter break when he doesn’t have to be at school, just in case he does feel ‘different’. Again, taking it every day will reduce those effects over several days.

      I wish you the very best in this journey. I can’t imagine my or my daughter’s life without the medication. It has been that life-changing for us.

    • #105186

      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.

    • #105192
      Penny Williams

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed? 6

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait? Within a week of diagnosis because we (and the teacher) were already implementing behavior modification with little success. My son was sad almost every moment of every day. he couldn’t do anything right, no matter how hard he tried. His little life was so hard, no matter what we did to try to help. So we decided to try it…

      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?

      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? My son had therapy for many years, but after diagnosis. Medication alone is not effective enough. Behavior therapy and medication is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, based on a large study.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage? My son took Concerta at different doses for many years. About 9 months ago he had to stop taking it because we realized it was making him way too stuck and perseverating and way too sensitive to sensory issues. Mind you, this change came after puberty, and he also has Autism, which is where those issues stem from, that the stimulant was worsening. Stimulant medication was a GOD-SEND for many years (7-8 years).

      Every individual responds differently to different stimulants and different doses. So the answers to this question from others isn’t going to yield data you can use to decide which medication your child should be on.

      A Patient’s Primer on the Stimulant Medications Used to Treat ADHD

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without? Not until puberty changed his chemistry and ASD became more pronounced.

      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets? ABSOLUTELY glad we went with meds. It was hard enough with meds, can’t imagine without. I don’t have any regrets about it at all.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #105197

      Hey friend, I am a young adult who has been medicated for my ADHD for about three months now. I might not be the exact person you’re looking for response from, so feel free to disregard this if so, but I know my parents largely disregarded any chance of me having ADHD as a kid, and getting diagnosed and on medication is honestly the best thing to happen for my mental health and ability to have productive days.

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed?

      I was 20 when I got diagnosed earlier this year, though I had suspected I had ADHD since I was 17.

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?

      I sought out diagnosis for the purpose of getting medicated.

      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?

      I didn’t wait to get medicated once I was diagnosed, but as I had suspected it for a long time, I had come up with coping mechanisms that helped me not fail as much. This was anything from always putting things in the same place, to color-coding my calendar, to keeping easy foods on hand and a water bottle with me so I didn’t forget to take care of my basic needs.

      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?

      I had therapy for other reasons (depression & anxiety) for about 6 months about a year before I sought a diagnosis for my ADHD. At the time, I had a terrible group of friends and felt very isolated. So while that therapy helped with those, I had never brought up ADHD things, so we never worked on anything there. That said, once I learned about RSD, it took a weight off my shoulders of all of the times I knew I had overreacted but couldn’t control it.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?

      I currently take generic adderall. My doc basically gives me my script and says ‘hey, you’re an adult. don’t sell these, but you know what you need for dosage best. see you back here in a month to make sure you’re not abusing these!’
      I typically take 20mg in the morning, within an hour of waking up, and then about 4.5 hrs later, I either take another full 20mg, or 10-15mg depending on what I need to do. About 3.5-4hrs later, if I still have meetings to go to, I’ll take 10mg more, mostly to make sure i don’t get a blazing headache and can be at least semi-productive. (I tend to get headaches if I don’t take my next dose shortly before the first wears off.)

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without?

      I told a couple friends that I was going on meds before I did, and I told them the potential side effects I was worried about (loss of appetite, irritability). I told them to keep an eye on me and let me know if I was doing those things. I have noticed the loss of appetite, and lost around 30lbs (though, I was slightly overweight and this puts me back at the weight I was at when I was working out daily). I have not been told that it has affected my irritability.

      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?

      I am so glad I am medicated now. The difference is incredibly noticeable for me. Once my meds kick in, it’s so much easier to quiet my brain down and focus on my tasks and it’s easier to pull myself back to what I was supposed to be doing in the first place when I do get distracted. I absorb information better and honestly the biggest difference for me is that I’m not tired all the time anymore. Before medication, whether I slept 12 hours or 4 I was the same amount of tired- and it was an exhausted, get-me-back-to-bed-right-now kind of tired. When I would finish classwork, I would want to go home and sleep for three hours before doing anything else. Now, I am an amount of tired actually based on how much sleep I got. When I am finished with classes for the day, I can actually be working on classwork for a few hours before I shut down. It’s great. I feel like an actual human being. It’s also easier for me to have conversations with people without constantly interrupting them or dominating the topic the whole time.

      tl;dr I personally would at least have your kid try it. If they really don’t like it and the side effects are horrible, you can always talk to the doc and figure something else out. These meds have changed my life, quite frankly, and if they’ll help your kid, I think it’s even worth it if they only take it before times when you know it’ll be especially hard for them to focus. (school, tutoring, long car rides, etc)

    • #105206

      I know I’m not a parent but I just wanted to say… I was only diagnosed at 25 and I wished that it was recognised when I was younger. If I was on medication growing up then it would have made my life so much easier as a teenager and adult. Medication really does make a difference in focusing and taking things in. After years of not being able to do any of this I have horrible memory and learning deficiencies because I couldn’t focus enough when I was younger and never learnt basics. My self esteem is horrible because I’ve grown up thinking I’m stupid and worthless. I believe that my ADHD and lack of diagnosis has caused a lot of other mental health problems. One thing I wish is that someone recognised this earlier and I was on medication from a younger age. Going on medication now is hard because I’m so used to being hyperactive that I feel like I’m not myself being calmer. I feel like my ADHD is my personality now because its how I have always been. But one thing I know is that medication really does make a difference. Since being on my medication my memory has improved, I can actually sit and study and I’m not as impulsive and reckless as before. Don’t underestimate the importance of medication. If this were a physical condition there wouldn’t be any question of whether medication is the answer.. but because we can’t see it theres so much stigma.

    • #105218

      I could have written your exact post! It is so heartening to know there are so many lovely parents out there just trying to do what is best for their kids. Reading some of the other posts on this thread had me smiling…”take my unmedicated child home for a week and then tell me how you’re going to fix them..” hehehe

      1. How old was your child when diagnosed?
      Like many of you, we noticed something was not right early on – our daughter was about 3 years old. She is now almost 7 and she has just finally been diagnosed with mixed type ADHD, anxiety and SPD.

      2. Did you decide to medicate right away, or did you wait?
      I’m thankful that we live in the era that we do.I have been on medication for many years (+20) for anxiety and goodness only knows where it’d be without it. I am prefacing my response with this information so you know that I am definitely pro medication when it is required.
      However, my husband and I are not sure whether to start medication for our daughter as, since her diagnosis (in the last 4 weeks), I have researched ADHD nutritional treatments and started her on high doses of Omega 3s and magnesium and have noticed a moderate difference. Her anxiety has lessened i.e. she can now go outside at home without me having to go with her every single time; her sensory issues have lessened i.e. she can get dressed in the morning without melting down; her rages / mood swings / defiance have lessened i.e. she would have multiple rage episodes every day, resulting from nothing much at all. She was never violent with people but would thrash on the ground and scream etc etc, and has stopped this entirely; she is less hyperactive and seems more able to truly engage in life and play activities.

      She is still very silly, impossible to keep at the dinner table, emotionally sensitive and reactive, and unfocussed. However, the defiance and extreme worrying behaviours have lessened / disappeared.

      (For information regarding nutritional treatments of ADHD, check out Julia Rucklidge’s research group from University of Canterbury, New Zealand and Dr James Greenblatt’s book “Finally Focused”.)

      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?

      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?
      Over the past 3.5 years we have tried CBT, OT therapies, movement therapies, mindfulness, diet changes (cutting out gluten, dairy etc). Nothing helped. With regard to the different therapies; our daughter was unable to calm down enough to listen and engage in the therapy process. Our plan is to get her calm enough (either with nutritional supplements or medication) so we can revisit these therapies.

      5. Which med does your child take, and at what dosage?
      She has been prescribed Rubifen 5mg / day as a starting test dose. Rubifen is the generic form of Ritalin. We are in NZ and our summer holidays are starting in a week. We are thinking of trialling the medication over the summer break but want to see what gains can be made with other nutritional supplements first.

      I wish you all the best for your son and know your struggle and concern well. Please keep me posted on your journey…

      6. Do you notice a negative difference in your child with meds vs without? N/A
      7. Are you glad you decided to introduce medication as a treatment option? Do you have any regrets?
      I know I will regret it if I don’t do absolutely everything possible to help my daughter.

      Any information you care to provide in addition to the answers to these questions would be most helpful. Again, thank you in advance for your time, and for your help! We just want what’s best for our son

    • #105225

      Hey there,

      I don’t have a kid (yet, though I did half-raise my younger brother, if that counts?), but as someone who almost certainly went through life with undiagnosed ADHD, I would drug the hell out of my kids if they had the diagnosis.

      I realise that phrasing makes the act sound very negative, but I personally don’t see anything negative about it. Here are a few examples as to why:

      If your child had Asthma, you wouldn’t refuse them an inhaler, and instead insist that they only used a combination of learning to play a wind instrument and graded exercise to handle their asthma.

      If they had allergies, you wouldn’t deny them antihistamines.

      If they lost function in their lower body, you wouldn’t deny them crutches or a wheelchair.

      ADHD is no different. Your child has a deficiency of a chemical in their brain, and need medication to correct the imbalance. Yes, techniques and coaching can help your child improve to the point where perhaps they don’t need the medications to function quasi-normally, but their brain chemical level will still be impaired. They will go through their life constantly trying to fight off the need to be impulsive, fighting off distractions, unable to do the things neurotypicals take for granted without significantly more effort. They will have to work three times as hard as their peers for half the benefit, when they could take a pill and make at least some of that effort go away.

      Now, admittedly, I had no coaching (I’m 27 and am only just getting diagnosed), I went to a school in a bad area, and I had a neglectful parent, an absent step-parent because of work, and a loving, caring father I only saw on the weekends. Support structures weren’t really a thing in my life, and they could possibly have helped me a lot. However, undiagnosed ADHD has cost me several career opportunities, almost cost me my chance to go to university, almost cost me my degree, and as a result of all this kept me trapped in dead-end jobs until I made one extremely impulsive decision two years ago that changed my life, and my gamble paid off.

      While I have ultimately benefited from the decisions I’ve made in my life, I’m still at the point where I feel the need to apply for permission to medicate myself to ease the difficulties I’ve dealt with my whole life. I still spent 26 years feeling like I had so much potential I was not, could not, and would never live up to. I still had to let go of dreams I held dear for the sake of having opportunities that were actually in reach. I changed career paths three times in three years because of difficulties with my studies, ultimately taking a degree I knew I could complete, because what I actually wanted to do just wasn’t compatible with my capabilities. This isn’t to say that I couldn’t have done it. If I could have kept my head straight and focused, I could have done it, and would have been working in Maths or Physics. Instead, I switched to a topic I had no struggle focussing on, and got a degree in Philosophy. Anything else would have actually made my current job impossible, and I’m happy with how things wound up, but that was years of struggle that I went through needlessly.

      I’d hate to do the same thing to my own children. It’s like going through life with headphones on and needing to lip-read, both arms tied behind your back, being told to write with your feet.

      Don’t get me wrong, by the way. Medication cannot and will (likely) not fix EVERYTHING. Your child will still need help, will need to learn coping strategies and techniques, but the medication will make it so much easier FOR THEM, which is ultimately what the whole thing is about. Personal feelings about a treatment are irrelevant if that treatment will help your child. Do also bear in mind that there are about 50 different medications for ADHD, which work in different ways. If your child experiences a negative result with a medication (the dreaded ‘zombie child’, for example), that doesn’t mean that ALL medications are bad. It means that that medication, or the dosage, is wrong. That’s fine. There are about 49 left to try next.

      I hope this helps in some way, shape, or form. Feel free to ask further questions.

    • #105376

      My child was 4 when she was diagnosed.

      I wanted to medicate, and did, immediately. My husband was not as on board, until he saw the results, then he thanked me profusely.

      My daughter was getting into fist fights at YMCA, and threatening to be thrown out of preschool. The tantrums at home became so bad I was about to have a mental breakdown. I’m a SAHM and I spent most of my days crying my eyes out.

      Therapy sessions have been mostly evaluations and supportive, they were not achievable at all before medication. She could not sit down and would wander around the office breaking objects.

      She is on methylphenidate 5mg short acting and 18 mg extended release, twice a day.

      On the occasions when she misses a dose the negative behavior is quick to resume. As supportive care we are also having her tested for food allergies, put on supplements, Love & Logic training for us parents, and physical exercise. We feel coping with this is best done in a holistic way.

      I am so very thankful that we have medication available to treat her. I don’t think her dad, my husband, will ever forgive his mother for not seeking treatment for his ADHD when he was a kid. He suffered a lot growing up, and 40 years later is still mostly estranged from his parents. His mother labeled him a “bad seed” for what we now know was a brain chemistry problem largely out of his control. Our daughter is now excelling in school where she was one failing, she has friends, and we are able to have a relationship now instead of constantly fighting. I feel like I have my child back.

    • #105508

      Thank you for posting this question an to everyone who responded! My soon-to-be 8-year-old son was just diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD. I am struggling with the idea of medicating him but reading these responses is hugely eye-opening. Neither my husband nor I gave ADHD so this is new territory for us. Reading your responses brought tears to my eyes a number of times.

      My son is highly intelligent and not overactive so it wasn’t until this year in second grade that we can see that he can’t stay organized, that he makes careless mistakes, that he can’t easily handle his own personal care, that he can’t remember to do basic things like put his name on his homework, etc. He teacher is lovely and very supportive and encouraged us to see his pediatrician.

      There is so much in these responses that I didn’t even realize might be connected to ADHD. Last night at bed time he told me that no one wants to play with him 🙁 I almost cried. He is a great kid, super smart, super kind but now I see that maybe this could all be related. Thank you.

    • #105729

      I struggled with the decision to medicate for years. We tried everything, including behavior therapy, special diet, even just letting it all go and saying she will grow out of it (as things got significantly worse). I wanted so badly, and still do, to have a natural, nutritional option to help her. I would give her all the common nutrients every day (omegas, zinc, essential oils, caffiene infused juice, other vitamins). She still suffered with very simple things. It was tearing her and I up. So, I decided to try a low dose of Quillichew. She started making friends, smiling, being able to organize, focus, etc. It is not perfect. But, daily life is no longer a complete negative struggle. She was diagnosed at age 8 with inattentive ADD/ADHD. She started meds at 10. She is now 12 and doing well. I was so afraid of what I heard about meds causing issues, and challenges figuring out the right med/dosage. That part was tough sometimes. But, I am thankful for the Med now (Concerta) because she can feel normal.

    • #106509

      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.

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