Ask the Experts

Setting Up a School-Day Dose

A doctor’s advice for managing meds during the school day.

Nurse treating ADHD girl teen
Nurse treating ADHD girl teen

If your child takes ADHD medication for attention deficit disorder as part of his ADHD treatment, he’ll likely need a dose during the school day. Although ADHD medication is available in extended-release forms that cover a full day, many children with attention deficit disorder do best with a short-acting tablet in the morning and another in the afternoon, ensuring an appetite for lunch. A child who takes an extended-release capsule in the morning may need a short-acting afternoon dose of ADHD medicine to cover time spent in an after-school program.

Arranging for your child to receive ADHD medication at school or for an after-school program is a two-step process. You and the prescribing physician must complete a medication authorization form. Then, the doctor will write a prescription that provides specific instructions for labeling the pill bottle and dosing.

The Form

Before the new school year begins, go to the school’s front office or health room and ask for a medication authorization form. Schools cannot give this form out without a request from a parent or guardian, because they aren’t permitted to recommend medication. Private schools may have their own form or may accept a form from a public school. After-school programs usually will accept the public school form.

Most forms have three parts. Part one, to be filled out and signed by the parent, authorizes the school nurse or aide to give your child medication. Part two is completed and signed by the physician. It asks him to provide information on the diagnosis, medication, time and dosage to be dispensed, and possible side effects. Part three is the school’s approval of the form and is completed by an administrator.

This is an official form, so you cannot create your own.

The ADHD Prescription

It’s unnecessary for your doctor to write prescriptions for both home and school. But he will need to instruct the pharmacist to label a separate bottle for school use, with specific instructions for this setting.

The Follow-Up

When you drop off the bottle and the completed form at school, take some time to talk with the nurse and your child’s teacher. Ask them to alert you if they notice side effects from the ADHD medication or if your child misses a dose, and to inform you about the medication’s effectiveness.

Working as a team will ensure that your child’s ADHD is treated appropriately throughout the school day.