ADHD when to medicate?

Govols1997

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
My nine year old DS was evaluated last year by a developmental pediatrician. Long story short she said he has enough symptoms to be diagnosed ADHD but it doesn't seem to be negatively impacting him enough to diagnose/medicate. I agreed. Fast forward to forth grade and homework makes us all want to cry. He is so inattentive and acts the entire time like he can do nothing. I would rather drive spikes under my nails than do homework with him. If he's motivated, he can do it all alone. He just had no motivation. He often loses papers, forgets work, etc. he goes to a private school. His grades are mostly As with a few Bs. I feel so frustrated. I'm wondering if I should just give in and try medicine to see if it would make life easier for us.
 

MommaoffherRocker

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2015
I know what you are going through! We put our oldest on meds for adhd and it was great in the beginning. After awhile it was just like trading one set of problems for another. He wouldn't eat, he would get emotional and then started to get more aggressive. So we decided to take him off the meds. I'm not against medication I just wanted to let you know what some of the side effects can be. I was just at the behavioral therapist today and she gave me some suggestions for homework etc. Cover up the problems your not working on so it doesn't seem overwhelming to him, try to motivate him like can you do the problems within x amount of time. If he does try to reward him with something he wants. I know it's easier said than done. We eventually went to homeschooling and he is doing much better because he doesn't have to sit for long periods of time and he gets more work done in a couples hours at home then all day at school, I know it's not for everyone but that is what worked for us.
 

DLgal

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 12, 2013
Had almost the same issue as the above poster. Sure the meds helped my son focus, but the side effects were not worth it at all.

We have built modifications into his school day and homework load (he gets reduced amounts of homework). He has an IEP.

Does your child have an IEP or 504 plan? I assume no because he is in private school, but you should get some accommodations in place to help him out.
 
  • DLgal

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2013
    We will only consider meds if my son gets to the point where his ADHD is preventing him from functioning in a productive way. He's 11. We're not there yet. I worry about giving meds during the adolescent years.
     

    Govols1997

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2015
    Thanks for these comments. I needed them. My son is small and rarely eats now. I don't want meds because of that. I needed to be reminded that the meds will just cause other problems. No IEP or 504 but his teacher is amazing with her accommodations. It's just so hard to wonder what's real focus stuff and what's lazy, attention seeking behavior. I believe he has both.
     

    aaarcher86

    Registered
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2010
    The medication didn't really help,the meltdowns with homework in our case. It would wear off at the end of the school day. They messed with her appetite, and ended up actually causing her to pull out her eyebrows and eyelashes. We've recently switched meds (also has other issues) and the new meds have been amazing so far. They don't, however, medicate for hyperactivity, so she has a lot of displaced energy.

    Homework is still a battle but on her new meds she's more reasonable. She actually did it last week without screaming about it for 2 hours first. She gained a pound last month!

    It's a tough choice and a constant battle. We made the decision when she wasn't able to do anything during the school day, and therefore, wasn't learning at all.
     

    MommaoffherRocker

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 12, 2015
    Thanks for these comments. I needed them. My son is small and rarely eats now. I don't want meds because of that. I needed to be reminded that the meds will just cause other problems. No IEP or 504 but his teacher is amazing with her accommodations. It's just so hard to wonder what's real focus stuff and what's lazy, attention seeking behavior. I believe he has both.
    Yeah I think my ds has both too :) I ask the doc all the time how do I know his laziness vs expecting too much of him. They really don't have an answer. I try to go with my gut or have DH take over and see if he can get better results.
     
  • PatMcDuck

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 12, 2000
    Such a tough subject...... and a tough decision. My son with ADD (not ADHD) is now 27! (today is his BD actually). We never got him medication, one reason was that he was dealing with things ok, with help from teachers and organizational assistance tips. (big difference, of course, him "only" being ADD, no behavioral issues or hyperactivity). Diagnosed at age 8, when I took him for IQ type testing (long story), I did not even think he had ADD, but recognized it more once the idea was floated to me.

    When he got to high school, things got MUCH harder for him, dealing with 8-9 different teachers. (middle school was only 2-3). He struggled, but insisted on no meds, he said he knew kids on them that were "zoned out". I explained that those kids were either on the wrong meds or at the wrong dosage (maybe), and I was not pushing meds at ALL, I just wanted him to understand what could be the reason for that.

    OK. He finished high school ok, with mostly Bs. I should point out, he has high IQ and was even in a gifted program when he was younger....... he decided against college. He went into construction, which was fine of course, DH is a union carpenter too. But, he began to struggle remembering all the instructions, the safety rules, etc. He went onto medication at around age 23. It has helped him quite a bit, he is less stressed, and he feels more "normal", his words.

    Sometimes, I wonder how things would have gone, if we had medicated him. I have no REAL anxiety over that, I just have to wonder, looking back. He is doing alright, but he is not completely excited about his career path, for various reasons, but he is a happy productive person, lives with his gf, many friends, etc. I guess all in all, it was the right decision for him. Sorry for rambling, lol.
     

    lanejudy

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Oct 27, 2011
    DD's diagnosis was borderline. We tried the meds because the school was pushing and we agreed to test and try. But as others found, the meds didn't necessarily help much and REALLY messed with her appetite and sleep. We actually found when she got to 4th grade with a different team of teachers and more academically-focused classroom setting that she didn't need the meds. We still have struggles at home with homework and focus, but as a PP mentions the meds have worn off by that time anyway so it wouldn't have made a difference. We have some solid organizational efforts in place -- checklists, timelines, rewards. Those seem to help.

    I'm not against medicating and know several kids who really function much better on meds. But it can be a lot of trial-and-error to find the one that works best for your child with limited side-effects. And having other systems in place along with meds, or in place of meds, can be just as helpful.

    Good luck!


    moving this to the disABILITIES Community Forum since it is not trip-planning...
     

    lovin'fl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2011
    My DS was diagnosed with severe ADD after 1st grade. It was recommended that we medicate and we did. We tried all types and dosages. He was sensitive to the side effects and had trouble eating and sleeping and also would get headaches. There were major emotional melt downs too. So we tried them all out to get to the one that was the lesser of the evils (for him it was Strattera for a while and then Focalin). When he was off the meds, every now and then, we'd get calls from the teachers saying he was acting up so the meds did seem to help. But if one can get away without taking meds for ADD/ADHD than I suggest not taking them. My DS went completely off the meds his sophomore year of high school (he was not complying with taking them and I noticed he was throwing them away and they cost us several $$ per pill). He is now a freshman in college (community college because even though he is really bright and was on meds most of his schooling, he still didn't do well and his GPA was not great) and has a job and seems to be doing pretty well (haven't seen his first grades yet, so fingers crossed). No more major melt downs like he had on the meds. I really advise against the meds unless it's absolutely a dire need for them.
     
    Last edited:

    nikkislaght

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2012
    My son needs to come home from school and do some heavy work before homework.. so he will go outside and play , run.. swing. use his crush pad.. he also does Taekwondo, which is amazing for him.. it is also a good motivator, if his behavior is getting out of hand , I just say no TKD. and he gets right on it..

    maybe getting him to do some play or heavy work before sitting down for homework, will help a bit?
     
  • Govols1997

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2015
    My son needs to come home from school and do some heavy work before homework.. so he will go outside and play , run.. swing. use his crush pad.. he also does Taekwondo, which is amazing for him.. it is also a good motivator, if his behavior is getting out of hand , I just say no TKD. and he gets right on it..

    maybe getting him to do some play or heavy work before sitting down for homework, will help a bit?
    All great ideas! We do all of this. He spends great amounts of time climbing trees, riding bikes, exploring the woods and playing in the creek behind our house. I believe these things are as crucial as academics to developing a healthy child. I also provide very littler supervision during these times as he knows his limits outside and can be trusted to stay within those. Homework is still hell.
     

    ForeverAlice

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2014
    Does he sleep well? Sometimes children have sleep disorders that can cause the same symptoms of attention disorders due to lack of sleep. I am not any sort of expert but that is what my pediatrician told me.
     

    Govols1997

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2015
    Does he sleep well? Sometimes children have sleep disorders that can cause the same symptoms of attention disorders due to lack of sleep. I am not any sort of expert but that is what my pediatrician told me.
    Great question! We had tonsils removed last spring due to the fact that they were enlarged and he wasn't sleeping like he should. He had begun sleeping very well and is now eating more than he was with the enlarged tonsils.

    I should add that he's much more ADD rather than the H part. But they don't seem to use plain old ADD anymore. He's rarely hyper and other than being off task, isn't a behavior problem.
     

    LargoLori

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2003
    Such a tough subject...... and a tough decision. My son with ADD (not ADHD) is now 27! (today is his BD actually). We never got him medication, one reason was that he was dealing with things ok, with help from teachers and organizational assistance tips. (big difference, of course, him "only" being ADD, no behavioral issues or hyperactivity). Diagnosed at age 8, when I took him for IQ type testing (long story), I did not even think he had ADD, but recognized it more once the idea was floated to me.

    When he got to high school, things got MUCH harder for him, dealing with 8-9 different teachers. (middle school was only 2-3). He struggled, but insisted on no meds, he said he knew kids on them that were "zoned out". I explained that those kids were either on the wrong meds or at the wrong dosage (maybe), and I was not pushing meds at ALL, I just wanted him to understand what could be the reason for that.

    OK. He finished high school ok, with mostly Bs. I should point out, he has high IQ and was even in a gifted program when he was younger....... he decided against college. He went into construction, which was fine of course, DH is a union carpenter too. But, he began to struggle remembering all the instructions, the safety rules, etc. He went onto medication at around age 23. It has helped him quite a bit, he is less stressed, and he feels more "normal", his words.

    Sometimes, I wonder how things would have gone, if we had medicated him. I have no REAL anxiety over that, I just have to wonder, looking back. He is doing alright, but he is not completely excited about his career path, for various reasons, but he is a happy productive person, lives with his gf, many friends, etc. I guess all in all, it was the right decision for him. Sorry for rambling, lol.
    Oh my goodness. I am so happy I found this thread. My 19 year old daughter has just been diagnosed ADHD combined type. Homework time was always a struggle. She had such a hard time maintaining focus but still managed to get good grades I had no clue she could be ADHD. Fast forward, she is having to take some time of from college. It has become too overwhelming for her. She has her first appointment next week since her assessment.
     

    Nicole Smith

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 3, 2016
    If the school is pushing for your child to be medicated, I would suggest that you get a full neurological psychological evaluation done. Unfortunately, depending on your insurance, they can be expensive. The results of these test can be very, very useful in obtaining accommodations for your child. Also, it gives you a larger developmental picture of your child then just taking the schools or the doctors recommendation. The tests do take school, parent and doctor feedback into account.
    Be ready to fill out a lot of paperwork.

    For what it's worth, I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult and have depression issues related to the fact that as a child/young adult I struggled so much with focus and organization. Apparently, I have an extremely high IQ, ADD, and some minor learning disabilities (trouble reading?) that may me always feel like a failure. My medication helps with focus and organization. I love it.

    However, I have two boys, age 13 and 11 that are also on medication. At the time, I really thought I was doing the right thing but now I am not so sure. My 13 year old is extremely small for his age. I take the boys off their medication during the summer and on the weekends which has helped with growth. Also, My 13 year old still struggles with homework because his meds have worn off by the time he gets home. Oh, and I find that if the boys are having trouble sleeping a low dose of melatonin can help. My doctor said that was okay but check with your doctor before giving anything to your child.

    There are alternatives to medications out there. Don't be pressured into it if it's not what you or your child wants.

    (Just in case, check before hand to make sure that any doctors your child might see during the tests are covered under your insurance if they plan on billing you separately! In other words, neurological psychological evaluations can be done at a hospital which might be covered by your insurance, but the 3 different doctors your child sees during the tests might not be covered. This happened to us several years back and we got an unexpected bill for $6000. I don't know if this can happen any more but... )
     

    snowman

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 1999
    Everybody in my house is medicated for ADHD. It makes life interesting for us for sure.

    I've been meds for 6 years and like an earlier poster, the meds worked but had HUGE side effects...I spent one who.e month doing nothing but raging or crying. That was Adderall. We made a switch to Ritalin and it was like night and day. Focus was good and the raging and tears went away. Now I'm on a Concerta/Tenex blend that is working well for me. My wife manages with just Concerta. Our son was dx'd with ADHD and several other alphabets by the time he was 4yo. However, because he was in foster care the decision was made not to medicate him until he was in a permanent placement. He has been on the exact Concerta/Tenex combo that I am.

    Those of you how live with this will understand......About 2 weeks after finding the right dosage I emailed his prescriber and said "He is sitting and WATCHING a movie. By HIS own choice!"

    Now meds are not the only way we tackle this. He has an IEP at school that provides lower stimulus transportation. We keep a predictable schedule and we keep him active. I give him directions one at a time. The hardest thing right now is getting him to do his 10 minutes of reading a day. He hates to read.

    Meds aren't the whole answer and may well not be the right fit for every family. I used to be anti-meds...until I experienced the difference they can make, first hand. Always make the decision that feels right for you and your child. You can always try the other option if the first one doesn't work.
     

    Govols1997

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2015
    Thanks for the continued responses. We have an appointment with the developmental pediatrician. (Not just a regular Ped, I find they dole out meds like Pez candy). We will explain to her what's going on now, share some examples of school work, etc. I prefer to start with behavior strategies, but he is really struggling and his grades are sliding, so we need to do something.
     


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