Should You Medicate Your Child for ADHD?
This is a question that any parent with a child who has ADHD has asked themselves at one point or another. I have one child with ADHD that is medicated and one child with ADHD that is not medicated. From my experience, I think the answer to the question depends on the severity of their symptoms. If your child is functioning well in school academically and socially both at home and school then there isn't much need for medication in my opinion. If they are not functioning well at home or school in those areas then it might be worth looking into ADHD medication. Staying in close contact with teachers alerts you to any issues that arise with your child as far as academics and social interaction while at school. My daughter's Kindergarten teacher had no problem telling me that she thought my daughter should be tested for ADHD. I appreciated that input from her and followed her advice. Your observations of your child's behavior at home in combination with their teacher's input is sufficient to determine what plan of action you need to take.
I Don't Want My Child On All This Medication
I don't like my child being on these medications either. The side effects of medications such as Concerta can be horrible. That is why my other child is not on her medications right now. The side effects are worse than the condition. Upset stomach and headaches are the most common side effects that I have seen with my children. My son does not experience these side effects like my daughter does. His symptoms are so severe that he would not function well without his Concerta. Her symptoms fall primarily into the inattentiveness category and can be managed more than having her sick everyday from the medication. I feel like I have made the right choices when it comes to medicating or not.
There Is No Magic Pill
There is no magic pill for ADHD. The medication your child takes does not cure them or completely get rid of all their symptoms. For my son, the medication actually adds irritability to his symptoms in the late evening hours as he comes off the medication from the day. Good diet, counseling or behavioral therapy also helps along with the medication. ADHD children are high maintenance. It requires educating yourself on their diagnosis, going through a series of trial and error with medication if you choose medication, and constant behavioral counseling. Counseling either at home with your guidance and/or with a professional counselor. Our insurance only allows a certain number of visits to a mental health provider so I have to support my children as much as I can from the home front. Just don't expect the medication to get rid of all their symptoms.
I have found that the best thing I can do for my children with ADHD is to have patience. Even on medication, my son is very challenging at school and at home. I am in constant communication with his teachers on his academics and behavior. My daughter is a handful when it comes to completing homework and focusing on what needs to be done. I have to stay on them both every day to complete the simplest of tasks. It is difficult for me since I have 2 other young children. Without my son's medication, we would be in a world of hurt. It helps him so much and I am very thankful for what it does do. The rest is up to me and the amount of patience I have on any given day.
Update December 2011
My daughter's performance in school had suffered so much over the past few months that we decided to give her medication a try once again. This time she seems to be doing better with managing the side effects than she previously had. My decision to put her back on her medication was from my observance of her behavior here at home and input from her teacher at school. I really was disappointed with a parent teacher conference and the information I found out about my daughter's behavior at school, her attitude, and her academic performance. All of these things were factors in deciding to put her back on her medication, Vyvanse. She seems to be doing much better now and her teacher noticed a difference in her the first day she started taking it.
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