Your child comes home from school one day and explains that he can no longer see what his teacher is writing on the board. You immediately make an appointment with the optometrist and discover that he needs eyeglasses. Without hesitation, you take the prescription, try on frames and order glasses. Why not? Eyeglasses are necessary to provide the clarity he needs for school success.
He comes home from school with a note from his teacher a couple months later. She explains that she sees how intelligent he is, and he is so thoughtful and kind to the other students, but his grades are slipping, he has trouble staying on task, and he is acting out regularly. She recommends psycho-educational testing to see if there’s something going on they can help your son with.
You visit a psychologist or a behavioral specialist for evaluation and discover your son has ADHD. The doctor writes you a prescription for a stimulant commonly used to treat the condition. They explain that this medication will stimulate certain parts of the brain to help your son attain some clarity he needs to be successful in school. But you decide not to give your child this medication.
You have no problem giving your child eyeglasses to provide the clarity necessary for school success, but you won’t give him a medication to achieve the same result. Denying eyeglasses didn’t even cross your mind. I just can’t understand this. I believe that medication of any kind for a child is a family decision and I do believe there are special circumstances that sometimes make a stimulant medication dangerous. However, I also strongly believe in helping a child achieve happiness and success when possible.
I’ll admit, when my son was diagnosed with ADHD at six years old, I was devastated. I, like so much of the general public, thought medication for ADHD is just “drugging” a kid into submission to achieve desired behavior. I cried when his doctor prescribed a stimulant. But then I educated myself. I read about the medication and the physiology of ADHD and how the medication works to correct some of the symptoms. I read about the potential side effects as well and considered them carefully.
We took a week or so to research and think it over. And all the while my son was still struggling in school. He was still down on himself and cried daily. I quickly realized the medication was worth a try. As with any medication given to any person for any reason, if the side effects outweigh the benefits, you discontinue use and that was our plan. The benefits were great and the side effects were minimal.
I feel constant scrutiny that I give my child medication for ADHD. I remind myself that I have the facts and provide medication to help my son achieve success and happiness in a world that would otherwise be chaotic and discouraging for him. Every time I see his smile in place of what was once a lot of tears and hopelessness, I know I made the right decision for my son. And that is what matters most!