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My daughter has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. Her pediatrician, therapist and teacher are all in favor of putting her on medication, but I am really struggling with the idea of using a controlled substance for someone so young (she is 6).

Is there anyone out there who has used tactics other than medication to help their child? If so, what have you tried and what were your results?

Thank you!

Replies

My son is 7 and was diagnosed last year, but we had suspected it for a long time.  Because we had suspected it, we had already tried many treatments, including chiropractic care, “mudding,” occupational therapy and many various vitamin supplements.  We have seen improvements here & there, but he is still struggling.  We are considering medication at this point. I have a friend whose daughter is now in college.  She told me she went through all the same alternative treatments with no major improvements. It wasn’t until her daughter was put on meds that she really saw a difference.  It’s a tough decision, though.

Posted by MaggieV on Dec 12, 2013 at 3:33pm

Hi Mitzi,

Thank you for the information on neurofeedback. That is very interesting! I will have to see if it is offered where we live.

Monica

Posted by mcerts on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:13pm

Hi Maggie V.

Thank you for your reply. I am glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this decision! I wish you the best of luck with your son.

Monica

Posted by mcerts on Dec 12, 2013 at 7:15pm

I remember when our son was diagnosed at 11, we too were very reluctant to give him medicine.  We had him see a Child Psychotherapist for counselling. While there was some improvement, he was still struggling and family life was strained due to his ADHD behaviour.  Then we tried Concerta and really - that medicine has made the #1 difference in both his life and our family life. He has now been on it for 3 years and we don’t regret it at all. He even is at a point that he wants to take it - he sees the difference it makes when he is at school and when he does homework.

Every child is different and age 6 is young. You have to do your homework.  A great place to start is watching Dr. Russell Barkley’s YouTube video called “Essential Ideas for Parents”.  He is one of the leading experts on ADHD.  He also has a book “Taking Charge of ADHD”.

Hope my story helps you. Good luck!

Posted by staypositive on Dec 13, 2013 at 2:12pm

It is one of the toughest decisions you will make. I think 99% of parents with ADHD children struggle with the medication decision. My son started stimulants when he was 6. He was sad all the time and could not succeed in school for anything. His teacher had already implemented a lot of behavior modification for months with no significant improvement and we had done the same at home.

We struggled with the decision but ultimately decided we would try it, because we wanted so desperately to help him, and we could always stop it if it wasn’t the right thing. He is now 11 and still takes medication and is doing really well this year, for the first time. It took a long time to get the right medication worked out for him but he would not have been able to learn self-awareness and coping strategies without something to help slow him down. He also sees a therapist.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Dec 13, 2013 at 4:04pm

It is a really difficult decision for sure, especially when they are so young.  I went through the same thing.  We knew my daughter had ADHD long before she was officially diagnosed and I vowed all along that I would not medicate no matter what!  But as you learn more and more about ADHD your reticence may recede.

The thing that convinced me was that the school wanted to hold my daughter back in both K and 1st.  By the end of 1st they were pressuring hard. But we got a diagnosis, and then the second thing that convinced me was our daughter’s pediatric psychiatrist who sees many, many ADHD children.  She described our daughter’s brain as experiencing chaos - 35 things all at the same time and not one of them comes to the fore, like in a normal brain, because of the ADHD there is just no way for them to regulate which thing to think about first.  And if I had the opportunity to quell that chaos, wouldn’t I take it?  And she is super conservative with meds.  We started out opening capsules and pouring less than half in applesauce, then a few months later a bit more and so on.  She is not a throw spaghetti against the way and see what sticks kind of doctor, she is all about measures.

So you may put off the decision to medicate for a while, but if your child is impaired to the point that it is impacting her life then you might reconsider.  In the meantime learn as much as you can.  I regret that I didn’t just dive right in and learn right off the bat.  I think I was a little shell shocked by my husband’s diagnosis only a few years earlier, then our daughter’s,  But the more you learn the better off you are all around.  The easier it will be to do all the things a parent of an ADHD child has to do, manage, medicate, talk to friends and relatives about their behaviors, etc.

This is a long lecture but someone posted this a few weeks back and it is the most helpful talk on ADHD I’ve seen in the four years since I’ve been on this path.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCAGc-rkIfo

Posted by YellaRyan on Dec 13, 2013 at 6:21pm

I have a 6 year old with serious ADHD and some leraning issues. Instead of medicating, which we choose not to do yet, we take him to OT and vision therapy, and we have a shadow in school for him. Nothing is perfect but we feel he is too young for the pills. When he is old enough to decide for himself, we will give him the option.

Posted by nycmom on Dec 15, 2013 at 7:37pm

My 6.5yo son was also just diagnosed with AHDH—combined type. We (me in particular) am struggling with the whole medication issue as well.  Our appt for deciding treatment in Jan 2nd, so I am trying to do all my research before we get to the appt.  So thank you for asking this question and for all of your stories.

Posted by Chelle17 on Dec 21, 2013 at 11:58pm

First, if you are struggling with the decision about whether or not to medicate….go with your gut and don’t feel bullied into medicating (or not) if you don’t feel it’s right for your child.  I didn’t feel it was right for my son despite everyone trying to tell me it was.  I tell you, the instant I decided to try alternatives, I literally felt a weight lift off my shoulders so I knew I made the right decision.  For us.  We may address the medication issue again down the road, but for now this feels right.

My son is in behavior therapy which helps quite a bit.  We also are using Omega 3-6-9 and some essential oils aimed to help keep him calm and focused.  I have no idea what effect they have, but it can’t hurt him.  And putting the oil on the morning is a nice moment of bonding time…that’s got to help in some way, right? 

I have friends who have their kids on ADHD meds and it has little effect….grades are better but behavior is still out of control….and others where it has made a huge difference in every area.

Bottom line, do your research on several options and whatever you decide is the right decision.  Good luck.

Posted by hockeymama on Dec 24, 2013 at 3:50am

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