New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Parents of ADHD Children

Experiences with Ritalin

Hi! I am new here and new to the ADHD diagnosis as well. My son, who is 5 years old, was recently diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. He has been having so many problems in school. In just 3 months of kindergarten, he has been suspended 19 times. My question is, how long does it take to even notice a difference with medication? He has been taking it for less than a week, but is on the lowest dose, fast acting Ritalin. and it doesn’t change his hyperactivity, or inattentiveness. The only difference we have noticed is that he is more sensative, and cries easier. People keep telling us that it takes atleast a week for the meds to get into their system and for you to notice a difference, and other people are saying that you should notice it immediately, while others are saying we may never notice a difference at all. I guess I just need to hear other peoples experiences with ADHD meds and to stop listening to people who have no experience at all.


Ritalin is a fast acting medicine - which means, when it is in your system it works.  When it’s worn off - it’s over.  This is unlike other medicine that has to “build up” over time.  There are also “long acting” medicines (Concerta, Adderall etc.) which slow down the release of the medicine so it lasts over a longer time frame, but the above rule still applies.

If you don’t notice any difference, the dose may be too low.  It takes a while to figure out the right dose per child.  I can’t speak to the issue of your son crying more easily.

Posted by staypositive on Nov 26, 2013 at 11:56pm
Posted by staypositive on Nov 26, 2013 at 11:57pm

Hi there, don’t know anything about Ritalin. We felt our five year old was too young to medicate and went for playattention instead. You can find it here on this site! It’s working great for us. We didn’t dismiss medication but only because of his age we did and we are really happy we did. CHEERS!

Posted by Elly on Nov 27, 2013 at 12:37am

Yes, I would say that if you did not see any improvement right away then it is either the wrong dose or the wrong med.

Does anyone else in his blood line have ADHD?  Are they on meds that work?  It is hereditary and so you can do a shortcut by trying what works for blood relatives.

If you are seeing your regular pediatrician for meds then seek a pediatric psychiatrist, and/or expert in ADHD - meaning someone who has treated hundreds of ADHD patients and who has understanding of the meds and what they do.

Best to you.  Keep at it.  There is no magic pill and even when you do find a “magic” medication that works you are in for constant shifts and adjustments over the course of his childhood.

Posted by YellaRyan on Nov 27, 2013 at 2:43am

My kids’ doctor always told me that if the dose is too low, we’d see weepiness and increased sensitivity.  I’ve always noticed a pretty immediate reaction when my boys took stimulants. It may be worth upping it a little before you give up.  Also, with one of my boys, it took a trial of several different kinds of stimulants before we found one that worked and had the least amount of side effects.  The other kiddo tried one med and stayed on it through high school, occasionally increasing the dosage as he aged and changed in size.

Posted by Nemo on Nov 27, 2013 at 2:49am

Thank you all for your replies! After speaking with his Dr today and letting him know that he’s more sensative and other than that there is no difference…he says he wants to keep him on 5mg for 3 weeks before changinf anything because it takes awhile for it to take effect? To me that just doesn’t sound right as staypositive mentioned, it’s a fast acting med so should the effects be immediate?  I didn’t expect it to be a magic pill and I realize after my post it seems like I was looking for a miracle to happen, which isn’t the case… I was reluctant to try meds to begin with…and if they weren’t going to help him or change anything…I just didn’t want to keep him on them. My brother (his uncle) has ADHD but unfortunately wasn’t diagnosed until he was a teenager and refused to take meds and is now in prison. His ADHD and ODD developed into conduct disorder and he had so many problems they eventually caught up with him. I want to help my son :( he’s a very bright child and tells me how he feels, how his brain makes him think everything is a race and how overwhelmed he is when everything bounces around in his head at once (his words) We are used to working with him at home, and know how to distract him from his outbursts or pay close attention and see him getting frustrated and can divert his attention enough to keep his aggression minimal, but the school is not and seems to be making it worse. That’s the situation we are dealing with now :( he was suspended again today.

Posted by LosingMyMind29 on Nov 27, 2013 at 5:02am

I agree with the others.  With Ritalin I saw an immediate difference.  It metabolizes quickly.

I think the first two things to do:  find an ADHD specialist, whether its a Ped, psych, etc. and keep in mind the ODD.

Secondly, start talking to your son about it.  It will help him to know that you are all working on this together. That you are doing everything you can to help him:  To help him succeed, so he won’t get in so much trouble and sent home, and probably make and keep friends! He will be able to give you some input if the meds are working.  My son tells me his brain is “wiggly” without the meds.

Keep at it!  Trust your instincts!  I can tell you are on the right track.  It’s a lot of work, but when things start getting better, and he has some control, it will be worth it.  Also, you’re right, there is no “magic pill.”  When the meds are working properly, this will give him the ability to control himself and focus.  From there, he has to learn the new behaviors.  Good luck!

Posted by Pdxlaura on Nov 27, 2013 at 6:29am

If your doc says to stay on a low dose that is making things worse rather than better for a month I’d seek a specialist and a second opinion.

What I am more troubled about is all the suspensions in kindergarten. That is ridiculous, especially for a child with a behavioral disorder. Request that the school do an evaluation and also specifically request a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Use this sample letter to make the request: Be sure to add the request for FBA and BIP to this letter.

Your son needs to be in school to learn. The school needs to make accommodations to address his behavioral disorder, not just send him home.

Please keep us updated on your progress on both fronts.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 27, 2013 at 8:06pm

I agree that suspending a kindergartner is ridiculous,  behavior problems or not. We actually went through the behavior scales with the school…a behaviorist and the school psychologist…the results were ADHD, ODD and anxiety. They set a behavior plan in place, and tried to speak with the teachers about how to handle his outbursts, and he will start going half days in the afternoon.

My main concern was him having to repeat kindergarten due to his absenses, but the principal agreed that if he met all requirements academically,  that wouldn’t be an issue. Part of the problem was, while all the other kids were sitting in class learning their colors and the sounds of each letter in the alphabet, my son was doing math and reading. I make everything a learning experience for him. He can look in the sky and tell you which stars are what and how many light years away they are, they all know how smart he is, and I think that contributes to their decision to send him home. They rely on me to teach him and they don’t want to deal with him. They also seem to be intimidated by him so I fear he really isn’t getting proper guidance at school. We understand that the consequences to his actions might bring on a big reaction, but rules are rules and having a disorder does not give him free run to do as he pleases. I believe there was a series of actions that made his behavior worse at school. He got into trouble at the beginning of the year and was put in an ISS detention room for what was supposed to be 20 minutes. I got a call saying that he had an accident and I needed to bring extra clothes. After talking to my son…it was clear that they had forgotten about him and he spent an hour and a half in that room where he was afraid to go to the bathroom and wet himself.

After he got in trouble again, for not sitting still or following directions, they tried to get him to go in that room again and he was afraid so he ran under the desk in the principals office. I explained to him and the school that when he felt overwhelmed or frustrated to tell the teacher that he needed to take a time out. He told them he needed to take a time out and I was so proud that he did..but the office misunderstood that with “he needs a time-out” and tried to put him in the room he was afraid of. He ran from them down the hall and they said they had to bring an intervention team in..where they hold him a certain way. BIG mistake. He instantly lost all trust and respect for everyone at the school and now not only is he running around and not listening…he’s physically attacking them. BUT he does not do that at home. They want us to put him in therapy and do parent training, but the only issues we have with him at home is having to constantly remind him to do things…and his outbursts don’t get physical at home.

I have witnessed on several occasions, him being rewarded for his bad behavior because they are trying to avoid his aggression. They think they are doing good by keeping his outbursts short but what I see is that my child now has complete control over the entire staff and knows how to get what he wants. Sorry this is so long, I wanted to give a little of his school history as well as vent I think.

Posted by LosingMyMind29 on Nov 27, 2013 at 9:24pm

I can completely empathize!  Your explanation sums up our entire school year last year (1st grade).  My daughter is also bright and in the gifted program…therefore we had trouble getting the school to agree to do an evaluation.  We kept pushing the issue and they finally agreed…sure enough she qualified for an IEP under the EBD umbrella.  The IEP has helped us this year….she hasn’t been suspended once, in spite of her outbursts. Here’s what I learned from our experience:  Treat the anxiety first, then the ADHD (the goal is to treat them concurrently).

This school year my daughter was diagnosed with anxiety. Last year, however,  our focus was on the ADHD.  We chose to use stimulants.  Every stimulant we tried seemed to make her more angry, aggressive, and emotional.  Her outbursts got worse.  We blamed the stimulants.  We took her off, and went the homeopathic route this summer….same results.  When school started this year it was right back to meltdowns, running out of the class, hiding under tables and desks, throwing things, etc.  They’d call the response team and, like you mentioned, she completely freaks out (even bites the adults trying to restrain her).  We decided to go back to the drawing board and start meds again.  This time around, we learned that we HAVE to treat the anxiety first.  Stimulants can make anxiety worse, and for kids that have an outward response to anxiety, the behaviors can get pretty aggressive.  We began with Zoloft and we started to see the edginess dwindle and she was able to go with the flow a little better and didn’t get “stuck” on things.

We started stimulants after 2 or 3 weeks of the Zoloft and got a totally different picture than we did last year when we were using stimulants alone (and boy was it a long year!!!).  It’s not perfect now….we still have to tweak both meds to find a balance.  But we are finally at a place I can call manageable!

Oh….and at our IEP meetings we really took the opportunity to explain how their response to her outbursts escalates the situation.  Our therapist has attended a meeting with us to help explain things.  We were able to have a response plan written into the IEP.  Now that they are learning our daughter a little better, it has been a calmer couple of months for everyone.

Posted by CBak on Nov 28, 2013 at 5:04am

Your school staff and son’s teachers need to read Lost at School by Dr. Ross Greene. They need to work with him, not against him. Just adding empathy would make a world of difference in his behavior. Makes me sad to hear of his struggle—just trying to put him in a place he’s terrified of, and alone no less, it so, so wrong!

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Nov 29, 2013 at 8:50pm

Personally, our experience with Ritalin was awful. I did see a difference in my daughter as soon as she took it BUT it was not a good one. She was also very sensitive, “zombiefied” and had panic attacks. She would cry if you looked at her wrong. She would sit and stare at the TV and say “huh?” at everything you said to her. If she got a paper cut it turned into a four hour long meltdown. The second it wore off there was an immediate change and she was back to her old bouncy self. I am sure Ritalin has worked for other families but for ours it was just a disaster.

Posted by mmrcummings on Dec 04, 2013 at 3:58am

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions