Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kids on Meds

I just wanted to share my personal experiences involving my son, ADHD and medication. From the time my son was young he was super active. My older son was a very quiet kid, and so I thought maybe this son was showing the wild boy gene. As time went on I asked the doctor about his behavior, and she said that he might have ADHD, but that she couldn't be sure until tests were given. Tests she didn't recommend until he was in school.

When my son was in kindergarten I mentioned my concern to his teacher, but she said he was just like all the other boys and not to worry. In 1st grade I mentioned it to his new teacher, and she said she would keep a look out for signs. Over half the year went by, my son regularly did not finish his homework, bounced around and distracted other students. I was surprised when I got a letter sent home that said he'd passed part 1 of the gifted and talented test and he should be further tested. To my shame, I thought there was some mix-up and didn't have him tested.

It was during his third semester conference that the teacher and I sat down to talk about his behavior. She mentioned that he was easily distracted and distracted others. He was also very good at math, but his reading was way behind. I finally got the confirmation I'd been looking for when she agreed with me about ADHD testing.

I took him to the doctor and received questionnaires for both me and the teacher to fill out. When they were done I brought them back to the doctor. Unfortunately, the teacher and I showed my son with completely opposite symptoms. It didn't help the doctor at all. The choice was to apply some behavior therapies, such as sitting at the front of the class, using a cardboard cutout around his desk to keep him centered, and using a timer to make him do his classwork. I was also given a prescription for a small dose of Ritalin.

At first I tried the behavior therapy, and it did improve his behavior, but he still had problems overall. I was worried about using meds, so I put them off. Then I read the most amazing article about ADHD kids and the new parental trend of not giving medication. There have been many years to study the research and results of kids on meds vs not on meds. The overall all feeling of the article said that around a decade or so ago, a huge scare went through parents about having over medicated children. Many parents stopped the medicines all together. The results have been a generation of children with ADHD who never learned to cope for themselves. They have a high drop-out rate, high drug rate, and a low level of job/work.

As I read the article I knew it was right. I'd seen the same thing happen to families around me. So, I decided to try the Ritalin. During the last month of school he was on the low dose. After thirty days we went back to the doctor with new questionnaires filled out. The medicine didn't work, in fact I felt it made him a little more hyper than normal.

Since school was out, I decided to wait until 2nd grade to try again. The summer went by in all its craziness, and then school started. I purposely did not set up my son's medicine check until after three full weeks of school. I wanted the teacher to see him as he really was so that she'd have an opinion when the medication started. I told her this at the open house, but lol, she forgot.

The doctor upped his dosage slightly and he began another thirty days. After the failure last time, I was unsure it would help, but I needed to try. I called his teacher and told her we we're beginning the medication now. She said thank goodness. She told me she'd forgotten I'd mentioned it and had thought herself in for a whole year of his behavior.

Guess what? The medicine worked beautifully! It took several days to regulate, but then my son was acting so much better. Was he still a bit hyper, yep, but he was also focused, listening to the teacher, not distracting others, and doing his homework. When I asked the teacher for her questionnaire at the end of the thirty days she hugged me. The doctor had found the right dosage, and there was no glassy eyed drugged behavior that people had scared me into worrying about. I think the right dosage is key there.

The only side affect we've noticed is a lack of appetite at lunch time. So, he gets extra snacks after school and at bedtime. As my son learns to control his behavior with the use of the medication he will learn coping skills and some day in the future be able to come off of the Ritalin and control his actions. In the meantime, his schoolwork and learning are no longer suffering. I feel such hope again, and I hope this might help someone else.


  1. Marc, my now 16-year-old son, had the same behavioral problems when he was young. (Note: Marc is Tyler's cousin.) I finally put him on ADHD medication when he was about 12 I think. But there were other issues going on as well. At 14 I reluctantly decided to homeschool him. He just couldn't focus at school and always disturbed his classmates. He kept getting into trouble as a result. At first being home was a battle. He couldn't focus for more than 10 minutes. But time passed and a year later he had finally learned how to focus and control his behavior. Marc has been completely off his ADHD medication for 2 1/2 years now and is a great student, still homeschool - his choice. It took patience and a lot of guidance and determination, but it's great to see him channel all that energy into valuable endeavors.

    1. I love happy endings... Such encouraging words for all parents dealing with this!!!