ADHD medication provides clarity like eyeglasses

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!

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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Related posts:

academic achievement, adhd and school, ADHD medication, attention/focus, impulse control, learning disabilities, learning styles and Adhd, medication, stimulant medication ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

34 Comments

  1. Charlene says:

    To be fair, there are no real side-effects from a pair of eye-glasses so I don’t think the comparison is a simple as that. 

    I’ve met many families who have been through quite the ordeal to find the right meds and doses, only to have everything flipped upside-down again a year or so later when the meds need to be changed again because of side-effects.

    My son is not medicated, and I would never judge those who medicate.  I know meds can really help kids get through  a school with minimal stress.   Each child and their set of circumstances is extremely unique.   

    Reply
  2. I agree with Charlene I don’t think it is that simple. The main reason my husband and I chose not to medicate our son is we are afraid of what the side effects will do to him and talking with many other parents who have had terrible experiences with these medications makes us more reluctant. They do however work for some people and if it comes down to it we may in the future try it. I also have a friend who does medicate his son and it works great for him. For now we are exploring all options alternative to medications before we make a final decision. Some we have already implemented are home-schooling, sports, diet, and natural stimulants.

    Reply
  3. Kittenchild says:

    Well Charlene & Jamie, Good for you!!! I am glad that works for you….for now. However, please consider that those of us who do choose to medicate where once in your shoes. We did everything we could do not to medicate. It ultimately comes down to the best interests of the child and I hope that you wouldn’t deny your child something that would help him/her because of your own personal feelings about it. I agree that not all children need to be medicated and that so many are quick to medicate, but most of us struggle with the decision and it is usually a last resort which most of the time results in amazing and positive results! My son simply could not “make it” without his medication.

    Reply
  4. Ani1980 says:

    Amen Penny!

    Reply
  5. Funkybroomsticks says:

    I’m constantly surprised how often people try to medicate a “problem” away. I suffer from Autistic Spectrun Disorder, however I cope very well I chose myself to go to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my teenage years, to see if I could get out of my normal mind-set that was set by my condition not out of personal choice. Now I choose the way I think, act, and react. I do very well in most social settings now thanks to hard work, loving support and educated awareness of my condition.
    Some people like being themselves, and are happy that way, why would you force medication or therapy on them if they don’t make the choice themselves. Is that not morally wrong?

    I’m actually offended that people like me are considered any less intelligent and need to be “fixed” or cured. When all we really need is people to understand we just opperate differently, and to respect that difference.

    Reply
    • Funkybroomsticks says:

       I feel I should point this out just incase anybody doesn’t realise, by people like me I’m referring to anybody with a condition, not just people with the exact same condition as me. And if I had a child with ADHD I wouldn’t medicate, I’d try help them adjust and cope better the way I did, because I know it works, once you know all about the condition you are dealing with. If I wasn’t ever told I had the ASD I wouldn’t have know what I wanted to change. Nobody can tell me that it doesn’t work.

      Reply
      • What worked for you, won’t work for everybody.  That’s the same reasoning the doctors give for prescribing all those medications.  “It worked for blah blah blah…and they have blah blah blah, just like you.”  Every one is different..you can’t say this worked for me and it will work for anybody.

        Reply
    • Juanitabutts says:

      I am really glad it worked for you.  But you can’t say “never.”  I will tell you that I was once one of those people who said “I will never medicate my child.”  But until you have that child and they come home crying to to you that they aren’t “good” you can’t say never.  My son was so stressed out and sad that he stuck his whole hand in the teachers ink pad so he could come home and tell me he had been good that day and had gotten a stamp for the first time ever.  He had this huge smile on his face when he got off the bus and was holding his hand in the air.  What he didn’t know was that his teacher had already called me to tell me that he didn’t actually get a stamp that day 🙁  I look back on those days with horror…for the pain he was going through.  He was such a sweet loving little boy until he started school, then he started to change.  Every year I would get called for a conference and everyone of them started out with “Jacob is such a sweet boy….BUT……..”  We decided to try meds, he has the ‘no sleeping’ side affect with stimulants.  Things were not getting very much better because he wasn’t sleeping.  It got so bad that he was starting to believe he was bad.  He told me this story one day and that is when I decided I was going to do whatever I had to to help my child. 

      >>>>>Once there was a boy who went to school.  He yelled at the teachers and hit the kids (Jacob didn’t really hit kids, it was just in his story).  The teachers where mad at him.  Then one night a good fairy came and the boy didn’t yell or hit anyone ever again.  And he was happy.<<<<

      He was 6 years old when he told me this "story."  After second grade I decided to homeschool him…I wish I had done it sooner.  He still struggled with school but his loving sweet side started coming back.  Our relationship before was deteriorating, we became close again.  We still struggle with meds.  He takes a very small dose of stimulant to help us get throught the morning of school.  In the afternoon we do the "easier" more fun lessons.  He is going into 8th grade this fall.  He has finally caught up in math but his writing…lets just say we have a LOT of work to do on that. 

      And as for saying that people who medicate are tying to make there child into someone else, well I can tell you that is not true.  I love who my child is, I just want him to be the best that he can be.  To grow up and have a good life, to have kids of his own.  And I can tell you that even in the 2nd grade things were heading downhill fast for him.  The meds don't change who he is, they just help him focus.  And I am still working on behavoir modification…just because I use the meds to help doesn't mean I don't still do other things as well.

      Juanita Butts

      Mom to 3 ADHD boys.

      Reply
      • Jess says:

        Wow, good for you for homeschooling. First of all, it depends of the parents temperament and resources (internal and financial). For instance if you have all the money in the world, you can explore non medication techniques. If you have all the patience in the world, you can do parent-child strength based/CBT to help your child.
        But realistic medication is the easiest/quickest way to treat your child.

        My boy has been sensitive since he the day he was born, Crying unless he was held.

        Now at ate 8,  I’ve decided to do a trail of  medication, I am not “pro” medication but dealing with the behaviours for 8 years is wearing and we do have to work, do self care and attend to other child ect…..

        Reply
  6. Qrtne says:

    We’ve gone through 4 years of not medicating, trying diet modification, counseling, homeopathic remedies prescribed by a nurse practitioner…all to no avail.  At my daughter’s check up this week, I finally relented to medication.  She has been struggling so much and her teachers have been absolute ANGELS, but I’m now afraid I’m going to regret these last 4 years.  Here’s hoping we find the right dose for her and help to get her on the right track.  

    And I agree that all children are different and need different things.  If not, they wouldn’t need the wide array of different drugs and dosing amounts.  If only there were a “one size fits all” answer to every medical problem, everyone would be well and live forever.  Support is what mothers need, especially from fellow mothers who are walking the same path as us.

    Reply
  7. I would liken it to clinical depression or bipolar disorder.  If you have a chemical imbalance, you need the meds to fix it.  I spent 2 years trying to find alternative ways to treat my boy’s ADHD.  I found that artificial colors and preservatives “trigger” his ADHD…but taking those things away only took the edge of. (NOTE:  When he DID eat or drink the artificial colors he couldn’t sleep for 2 days)  We (mom, dad, step-dad, grandma, teacher, school Counselor, therapist, his Dr.,and psychologist) decided that medication would be the best way to go.  Every child is different.  Mine needs medication.  And unless someone raised your child for you, they have no right whatsoever to judge your decision in medicating or not medicating you child.  If your child’s ADHD can be controlled w/o meds…they probably don’t have ADHD.  They are probably just a kid C=.  
       

    Reply
  8. Leslie says:

    Are our children the ones with the problem?   Maybe our children are fine and we need to look at our expectations, is it really “normal”  for a young child to sit still and pay attention for any length of time?  Maybe we need meet our children’s needs by supporting more creative and active styles of learning!  It is increasingly problematic to define someone as special needs or disabled or ??? just because they are not like the majority. I think of these amazing people as  differant-abled. Some of the brightest and most creative people are those that don’t “fit” (or sit) with all the rest.  Personally,  I think these differences should be cherished, valued and supported.  I realize it is more work, but our children and our society greatly benefit when we embrace each individual for who they are, not who we think they should be.

    Reply
    • At the same time…our children need to learn to conform to society.  You can’t let a child go through life doing whatever they want, because when they grow up, they will have unrealistic expectations.  

      Reply
  9. luvmytryingtrio says:

    A friend’s son recently started medication for his ADD/Asperger’s. The doctor explained to him that the medicine was like eyeglasses for his brain. I think that’s a great way to explain how the medication is helpful to someone who is reluctant to try it.  

    Reply
  10. Dee Boling says:

    I am *so* proud of Penny for writing this!  The incredible stigma of ADHD – both the diagnosis itself and the decision to treat it with medication – is staggering.  Anyone who thinks the decision to medicate is easy has never been in the shoes of a parent making that decision.  At the same time, anyone who thinks that every case of ADHD (which manifests itself individually in each child) can be managed the same way and all without meds is not living in reality.  I’ve known people who have successfully treated depression with therapy only and I have also known people who have not had success with therapy and were very successfully treated with medication, or a combination of meds and therapy.  It is exactly the same with ADHD.

    Further, every child and every family’s case is different. The child’s symptoms, as well the degree of their impact and the way that they affect that child’s functioning and his/her relationship to those around him/her will all play a part. If behavior is the main issue and *can* be managed therapeutically, great!  But if inattention is the issue, it can be a lot more difficult to manage by behavioral therapy and some of the promising alternative treatments are financially out of reach. 

    At the same time, if a family has the financial and educational means to put a child in a very specialized school setting (either at a school or by homeschooling) where his/her needs are directly and very specifically met, *maybe* that will help them to avoid medications. But that is not every family’s experience.

    My son is off meds for the summer, but I’m anxiously dreading the start of school.  I am the breadwinner in our family (and we are *barely* making it as it is) so quitting my job and homeschooling is not an option. We could never afford private school and, honestly, I don’t know of a private school local to us that deals directly with kids with ADHD. We had found a medication that helped, but by the end of the past school year, it was obvious that it was no longer having the desired effect.  I do not know what we are going to do yet (I’m awaiting the results of some testing) but I do know that I won’t let my bright, creative son suffer the indignity of failing every class when there may be a medication that can help him demonstrate his intelligence and experience success.  There may be side effects that we will have to manage, but the fact is that there are HUGE and negative side effects of simply having ADHD. In our case, it’s a decision of choosing which side effects we are more able to manage.

    Perhaps the incidence of medication would be lessened if the majority of our school environments were different and if alternative treatments were not only more reliable but also more accessible (both financially and in the availability of knowledgeable, trustworthy practitioners), but the simple fact is we are not living that reality. When I look at my son at the start of his diagnosis – he had few friends and none of us could figure out why he was struggling so much in school . He now has a best friend and has learned better how to make and be a friend. School is still a struggle that we are working on, but we now know why. Medication (at least in part) helped him *see* what attention and controlled behavior is like, and gave his impulsiveness that brief moment of delay to think about his actions. He is also in therapy, but we will also seek something that can help him demonstrate his ability in the classroom, while also continuing to try to educate, inform, and gain the assistance of his school’s teachers and administrators.

    Thank you, Penny.

    dee

    http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com

    Reply
  11. Staci says:

    I, too, was hesitant to medicate when my son was diagnosed at 4yo. Our psychologist explained she had many parents who are hesitant and wait it out to the detriment of the child. They have weeks, months, even years being labeled as the ‘bad’ kid and it takes a toll on their self esteem. That can’t be helped with medication.

    So I decided to let go of my own issues and have never looked back. He is thriving on medication. Since then I have had this very same conversation with many people including parents of the newly diagnosed and those who just need to be educated.

    Reply
  12. Crys says:

    My 14 year old is medicated and has been since he was 7. Did I want to medicate? No. Did I medicate as soon as a doctor placed an Rx in my hand? No. We waited a year, we visited several doctors of many specialties, had tutoring, counseling, an IEP yet during that time my son my son was failing. He was not only failing academically, he was failing socially. He failed to make friends, he failed to complete any tasks, he failed to be a participating member of our family, he failed to read, failed to write. We were innundated with calls from the school, requests for conference, unfinished work was sent home for us to work on together (which resulted in hours of unproductive labor on his part and mine).

    We relented, we gave medication. It wasn’t perfect, it required changes in brand and dosage over the past 7 years. We have found a medication that helps him and even he can recognize the positive changes in his focus and behavior. If he forgets his medication I guarantee by the end of the school day I will have an email or phone (sometimes both) call from a frustrated teacher. He keeps a few spare pills at school for those occasions.

    Medication hasn’t cured anything. It has given us a tool to help him function and get through adolecense and school as well as he can. He still struggles on a daily basis. He carries a C average, he has 2 friends, he is disorganzied and forgetful. We still constantly work on life skills and try new techniques to make him more successful. He is still frustrated with school and I am still frustrated with him. We are learning, together, how to make this life work for both of us and the rest of our family.

    If only getting a prescription would solve everything. It is just one step in a very long and confusing journey. Some parents don’t choose this path, good for them. Other parents know it is the right decision for their child and their family, good for them. You have to trust your instincts. In this journey, sometimes it is all you have.

    Reply
  13. Rosia11778 says:

    my son was diagnosed with add in kindergarten. he is now going into the 8th grade and he no longer wants to take his medicine. I can understand where he was coming from because we tried different meds and he was having some serious anger issues with it. I told him as long as he could keep his grades up to at least a B average then I wouldnt make him take his medicine. So far he has kept his grades up. I have also seen children on about 6 different meds and none of them work. These poor kids are either zombied or jumping off the walls. I feel for the parents, and so thankful my son is not that bad.

    Reply
  14. Christine says:

    Regardless of the road chosen, I would really like for people to research and think long and hard about the choice they make for their children and not jump to conclusions. Many people assume that those who choose to medicate did so without a second thought. Often the strongest opponents to medication are people who were on medication themselves and had bad experiences. People have different experiences and not everyone has the same bad effects with medicine. (I did find it interesting that two of the people who talked to me about how terrible it was were people who were on the same medication that my son also had bad experiences were. They also talked to me about what dosing was or wasn’t enough because of my son’s age/size despite the fact that the medication I was using was not the same and was dosed the same, which to me, showed they did not know at all what they were talking about.) All that told me was that they tried one thing and were told to make the best of it and should have tried something else whether it was another medication AND extra help with behavior or just behavior therapy.

    I would liken use of meds though more closely to the use of insulin for certain diabetics. Insulin use alone will not get rid of it, but certain changes may help alleviate problems and improve blood sugar numbers, but even certain behavioral/lifestyle changes may not disappear overnight.

    Reply
  15. I failed many grades and eventually failed high school, was despondent and extremely depressed all throughout school. But because of my hyperactivity, the school did not see how depressed I was at home. I would have done so much better than I did, even with side effects had I had medication. I got diagnosed later and it has changed my life. It kills me to read about kids these days not given a chance with at least trying ADHD drugs. I am 40 and am still not over the nightmare of school. 

    Reply
  16. Brittany says:

    Everybody has got to do what works best for them. My son was on meds for awhile and they did help for a time but his symptoms pre and post medication made him almost completely unmanageable and the side effects quickly began to outweigh the benefits. Things are still tough for my little guy but all things considered he is doing better off the meds. I’ve seen and experienced both sides and I can’t fault either way – you do what you’ve got to do and what WORKS.  

    Reply
  17. Robhar777 says:

    Well, we did meds for awhile. But watching my daughter waste away and receive comments about being anorexic drove me to find a better way. Prayer and diligence paid off in the form of Reliv. Cut the meds in half eventually and then totally eliminated them. She is healthier, more focused and 20 pounds heavier. She is healthier at 16 than she has ever been in her life! Symptoms of osgood-schlatters and cystic ovaries/menstrual irregularity are also gone. If you want more info, I’ll be happy to help. robhar777@hotmail.com

    Reply
  18. Deborah says:

    I asked my 11 year old son (who has ADHD) what he felt like when he didn’t take his meds. He responded, ” it’s like a party going on in my brain and I’m not invited.”
    After all the CBT, diets, tutoring , etc., I finally had my moment of clarity or resolution for choosing to medicate our son. It works for him and has improved his life and that’s all that matters for us.

    Reply
  19. Susan S. says:

    Thank you Penny for this article. We are at the stage of having a recent diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia and anxiety on top of known sensory processing disorder. For years I thought that my son’s inability to focus and pay attention was solely because of SPD. No amount of sensory input has helped him be able to make it through a day of school without being more than miserable. I’ve had a child who has not been at grade level for the past 3 years and who has cried about having to go to school just about every day for the past 3 years. We have done several forms of therapy, and now it’s time to explore medication.

    I am excited to think that medication might help my son be able to make it through the next 9 years he has in school. And once he can focus easier, there are other cognitive programs that I want to explore with him to help build his working memory. And I am also hoping that if he can actually sit and be able to take in things, he’ll be able to work with a tutor who specializes in dyslexia.

    One of the medications I want to try is homeopathic. No side effects with homeopathy (different from naturopath). At worst, it won’t do anything.

    And if we find that a prescription stimulant medication works better, we’ll go that way until there is a reason to change. One thing about medications, is that there is always the option to stop. I don’t want to think about the misery my son has endured, continuing on for years to come, so we’ll visit the medications and see how it goes.

    Reply
  20. adhdmomma says:

    I knew this article would be controversial. Many are taking the analogy too literally though. I’m not saying that giving your child stimulant medication is equal to giving your child eyeglasses in any facet except that they both provide clarity that is necessary to function successfully. I know full well there are risks and side effects to medication that don’t exist with eyeglasses, and those should be carefully considered. Believe me, we struggled with the decision to try medication but we also didn’t want to see our sweet son suffer, which was exactly what was happening. We had been using behavior modification with no result for over a year. 

    My point with this article is that it’s a tool to correct a physiological problem, not a lazy parent’s easy-way-out. I feel like our children with ADHD deserve the opportunity to achieve success and happiness. If their ADHD is mild enough to achieve it without medication, that’s awesome! But, if not, don’t judge my parental choices and don’t judge my child for needing medication. 

    Reply
    • I think regardless of the parents choice to medicate or not just being a parent of an ADHD child we can all appreciate how hard all these choices really are and respect each other no matter how we choose to deal with it. When it comes down to it I believe the only people who really understand my feelings and situation are others who are living through it. Which is why I really enjoy this site already and I just started using a couple days ago. I should have reached out sooner to find others like our family. Every little bit of advice or opinion can be considered helpful during our struggle.

      Reply
  21. Judy says:

    I am grateful for this article.  While it is totally understandable that many may choose to avoid the use of medications for ADHD, I feel it’s not fair for them to say judgemental things about those of us to do, in some cases implying that we are somehow drugging them into compliance, creating zombies, killing their personalities, or treating a disorder that really isn’t a disorder at all, just a personality that should be left to its own devices.

    Nobody wants to give stimulant medications to their children.  It is a decision that is usually made with fear and trepidation, when a parent realizes that the situation is having a horrible effect on their children and nothing else is working.

    My 9 year old son was diagnosed this year.  This sweet, happy go lucky boy had begun a sudden rapid descent in his schoolwork.  He was unable to finish his work when his peers did.  He was the only child in his class incapable of completing practice state tests.  We had nightly battles over homework which took 4 times as long as it ever took with my other children.  He was basically unable to learn.  I sat in his class and watched as the teacher gave instructions that everyone else followed while he sat there motionless and unhearing.  I opened his desk to find violently broken pencils, snapped in two because of his silent frustration and panic over the growing realization that he was different from everyone else…the only one who could not complete the assignments.  He has pretty severe inattentive ADHD. 

    I pulled him from school to homeschool him, removing him from the immediate stress of the situation.  We put him on Ritalin and it has saved him academically.  Where he was unable to put two and two together before he can now focus for extended periods and comprehend information.  In other words, he is learning.  Do I worry about it hampering his creativity?  Yes.  Do I feel bad that he is on a stimulant?  Yes.  Do I wish he didn’t need it?  Yes.  Would he be failing academically without it?  Yes.   I understand why some people don’t want to medicate.  It’s scary.  But please don’t judge those of us who need to.  The situation is bad enough for us without having to defend our decisions, you know?

    Reply
  22. Impressed Parent says:

     This is a great topic. Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and staying positive in the process.

    Our experience is with our son, who is now headed towards 3rd grade. His sister is a couple of years ahead, and we know the school pretty well. I recall talking to the staff before he started that they would likely be seeing a lot of him, maybe even in the principal’s office (ha ha). I never expected it would be every day! Seriously. Every day in the principal’s office. He came from a really excellent pre-school, certainly had some issues going on, but I expected a relatively smooth transition to school. Wow, was I wrong. That first year was a total disaster, and I really have to stress that the teachers and the administration were so incredibly helpful and WAY over the-top-accomodating that I am to this day totally indebted and grateful and impressed. Our son ate pencils, chewed paper, threw an occasional chair, acted out, and was heading down a road where the other kids were starting to ostracize and fear him. In kindergarten. Not every day mind you, but often enough to see where this was going.

    In first grade, we went through half the year before talking to his teacher about meds and her experience. We had already tried diet, neurofeedback, counseling (for us and him), everything we could think of. We come from a position of great knowledge – I am a drug developer and my wife is a family physician. Finally we tried meds halfway through 1st grade.

    Our experience? night and day. Our son is able to keep it together in school, which has resulted in him ROCKETING to the top of the class in math, reading, etc. Writing, not so much 🙂 but that seems to be a common theme. That sense of success in school has been a game changer – our son has a tremendous amount of self confidence as a result, lets his warm and fuzzy side shine much more brightly with other kids, has made a bunch of great friends and is a freaking super star from the administration’s point of view. Total model citizen.

    Note that there are several formulations of ritalin out there, at a number of different dosage levels. They last anywhere from 4-6 hours to all day until bedtime. This matters a lot. At higher strengths, coming “down” off the meds can lead to irritability, so it is good to remember that that timing is something that you have some control over. We have steadily decreased the dosage level and went through second grade at just about the lowest dosage available. Even at the lowest dosage level, there is a huge difference between meds and no meds – the teachers see it, we see it, he sees it.

    Like virtually all the parents here, we hesitated, we researched, we tried alternatives, we continue to be conflicted. For now, this is working for us and our son, and he is receiving a strong educational foundation at a great school. Our most important points are a) it has helped him feel much much better about himself and his capabilities, and b) by all means try different dosages and formulations to dial in an optimal program.

    Our kid is amazingly bright, friendly, outgoing and affectionate. Sometimes late in the day that spark is diminished on meds. Not all the time, but sometimes. Think about it as coming home from a long day at work. If you love your job, it’s a different feeling than if your job sucks. For him, it helps him love his day more.                

    Reply
  23. Francis Ashley90 says:

    But what happens when the adhd Med don’t work by its self then they put them on 2 other meds and then your kid is not the same kid anymore..zombie

    Reply
  24. JNW says:

    I was in your shoes and made the same decision. I do get troubled occasionally by the responses I get from others when I mention that my 11 year old takes medication. Then I remind myself that these parents haven’t walked a mile in my shoes or my son’s shoes so they have no idea what is right for us. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply
  25. Vlovesdupps says:

    I’m really glad I found this! My son was officially diagnosed at age 6 and we held off on medication until a couple months into first grade. He was never invited to birthday parties and other kids wouldn’t come to his. He didn’t understand why he had such a hard time making friends. He was also quickly labeled as the bad kid and his school had no tolerance for him even though they knew he was ADHD and not on meds. So I had to decide quickly because he was on the brink of suspension. Then the medication became a crutch for the teacher and she would tell me after a month it’s just not lasting through the day. Within 3 months he was up to 40mg of Vyvanse. Then he wasn’t sleeping so the dr took him off and we tried aderall but then he stopped eating. We switched school districts which seemed to help and drs. We tried Vyvanse again and the side effects were odd and scary. So we took him off meds again.
    He came home one day and told me that kids were calling him annoying and that he was having a hard time keeping up in class. So we got a psychiatric referral. He is now on short acting medicine 2 times a day of a stimulant and a non stimulant at night so he can sleep. The psychiatrist said most of the time when a medicated child with ADHD has trouble sleeping its not the medication it’s because the medication wore off and the ADHD rebounded.
    My biggest struggle is my sons dad who is totally against medication. He and his girlfriend always give me a hard time about putting my son on meds but they only have him every other weekend and they usually pawn him off on my mom during that time. It’s very stressful fighting with them but I have to do what is best for my son.

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  26. Paola says:

    My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in April of this year. We only started medication a few weeks ago. She told me last week: mom, I love this medication because when I am supposed to do a work alone in class, I can still hear my friends but I don’t listen to them anymore.
    With that and the fact that I haven’t heard from the principal since, makes me believe that we made the right choice for my daughter.

    Reply
  27. ichmageulen says:

    Just wanted to say that I am an adult recently diagnosed with ADHD. If I would have had the choice to take medication as a child, I would have done it as opposed to years of feeling bad, stupid, lazy, and knowing in my heart that none of those were truly who I am. The damage has already been done to my self esteem, but I am slowly regaining it through support and treatment. It is a huge decision to medicate your children, but I will say that it is worth a try. My daughter also has ADHD and is taking medication only through the school year, and is off of it during the summer. This time is spent working on how she can learn to control her outbursts and impulsiveness. I really appreciate this article, because I was not medicated for 26 years of my life and developed severe anxiety, depression, and low self esteem. I had no clue what was wrong with me. If you choose not to medicate at least educate your children all about ADHD and try your best to keep it cool and positive around them. Encourage their creativity and help them harness the benefits of ADHD (such as hyper focus)… don’t focus on the bad. It’s a double edged sword, but a positive attitude and encouragement can mean the world to them.

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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