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Parents of ADHD Children

On Concerta, do we need more meds?


I have a fourth grader who is now taking Concerta, 36.  It does help him a lot.  Without the medicine, he makes weird noises and dances/moves at inappropriate times, among other impulsive behaviors.  The medicine has made it easier for him to stay in his seat at school.  He has always been put at his own desk and for the first time this year, we are almost in November and he still sits with other kids!  When I take him off the meds for a day, the behaviors return. 

He has always been very advanced academically, but struggles socially.  He seems immature for his age.  Even on the medicine, he is very bossy and doesn’t see other children’s point of view.  Other kids are starting to not want to play with him, which I knew would happen eventually but was always dreading.  He talks constantly and doesn’t get when other people are no longer listening.  It’s like he HAS to finish what he is saying, even if others are totally annoyed.

I am wondering if anyone else has kids who act like this, where they are not struggling with schoolwork but don’t “play well with others?” His teacher says he doesn’t do well in activity groups because he has to be right about everything.  He is sweet at home and nice to his little sister, it’s school that is our big problem. Is there another medicine to try that has helped to try in addition to Concerta or instead?  Or is this just my kid’s personality and I have to hope he learns/grows out of it?

Replies

My 4 year old is like that. That’s why I wrote selected parents a letter about having play dates or doing things together. I don’t tell them why…but maybe I can assist my son in making a friend

Posted by vabronxboogie on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:28pm

Meds don’t fix social skills—he will need to learn them.  He can either learn them on his own, by realizing that kids don’t want to play with him (requiring lots of self-awareness and loneliness).  Alternatively, you can try facilitating or coaching with social skills training by expereinced counselors or therapists. 

This so common with ADHD, there are resources out there.  I’ve tried a few books on how to be a good friend.  My son knows what to do, but cannot seem to apply in the social situation.

Posted by elark on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:31pm

You are describing a typical child with ADHD.  Unfortunately there is no medication that can “fix” him socially…..it is extremely painful to watch our children go through this time in life.  But there are things you can do to help him until he matures.  I recommend finding a social skills group - this helped my son immensely.  Ask your doctor’s office or look online locally…many therapists offices offer this. Does your school offer a buddy or peer group?  Our school offers a social buddy system to help children who struggle making friends.  This way everyone is included and accountable.
Also get him into behavior based therapy with a therapist - role playing will help him understand where he is missing social cues.  Set up short playdates for him and help monitor those - then sit with him afterward and talk through it.  We need to be our kids’ biggest advocates - by being involved, meeting other parents and setting up playdates, you can help him succeed and learn. 
It is hard to watch but he will eventually grow out of it as he matures, but try to give him the skills and tools he needs to get through it easier. 
Good luck - your son is not alone!
Lisa

Posted by LC2boys on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:35pm

Thanks guys, I kind of figured there was no easy “fix” but wanted to make sure.  I will have to ask about a social skills “group” and will keep trying to talk to my son.  It’s hard because like elark says, he seems unable to apply knowledge of what to do in actual social situations.  It’s hard for me to set up playdates because I am pretty shy too, but I will try to do something for him.

Posted by Daisy2004 on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:41pm

Hi,

My son also takes concerta and has problems with social skills. While I know a lot of parents advocate keeping our kids diagnosis a secret, I believe the opposite. I am completely honest and forthcoming with the information and what this means for my son academically and social skills. If other parents aren’t willing to help out, then probably my kid doesn’t need to necessarily by hanging with their kids. I do believe that it takes a village to raise a child.

So the parents know that they might have to remind my son to let someone else talk - that is an impulse control issue. And we talk about this periodically with my son at home. Impulses are hard to control for kids who don’t have ADD/ADHD and even more so for our kids. So we talk about controlling impulses and not letting them control you. Now that he has gotten older, I talk with his friends as well. I personally don’t think an ADD/ADHD/LD diagnosis is the kiss of death that I hear about so much on this site. Someone who is a true friend will understand this and learn that it is okay to say, “Jake, you need to let me talk!”. Also I know when the medicine is wearing off, when it becomes more difficult to control impulses so I am selective about what he does in the evenings - don’t put him in a situtation where his impulses might get out of control. I also let him know that if I see them getting out of control, I will solve the problem by removing him from that situtation. I remind him I am not his friend, I’m his Mom and I will do whatever is best for him.

I also talked with his school and hooked him up with a weekly couseling group for ADD/ADHD life and academic skills. So he meets with the school counselor and discusses in a group of other kids these sorts of issues. Also, I had him seeing a child psychologist every other week to discuss how he could handle impulse control, etc. Just another person to get different strategies from. I also made sure that his outside couselor was a man who had ADHD as well. That let him see an adult (other than me who had ADHD) and allowed him to see that you can put strategies into place that will allow you to pretty much do whatever you want in life.

So the others are correct, meds won’t fix social skills but there are ways to help our kids learn how to regulate impulses and increase social skills.

Good luck

Posted by faye on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:18pm

I just wanted to underscore what Faye wrote. I don’t tell everyone, but my 10 year old daughter and I talk frankly about the social issues aspect of ADHD, and have done so for years. We often role play situations, either after she has had a challenging time, or before she is about to go somewhere new or meet new people. The closest adults that she would see most often, our friends and such, know about her ADHD, and she has learned to ask teachers and coaches periodically how she is doing. Her main challenges are finding ways to “water the plants of friendship” by occasionally putting what the other child wants to do first, not over-reacting to imagined slights, and signaling to people that she is listening through eye contact, not interrupting, and staying within the same conversation rather than coming out with a statement on a completely unrelated topic (for the latter, when she REALLY has to mention something unrelated, she has learned to say “If I could change the subject for a moment” to signal that she knows they were discussing something else.) She meets with a counselor outside of school every other week, and has social skills group at school as part of her IEP. These are skills that can be learned through practice. Praise when he does things well, and gently remind him in private when he forgets.

Posted by lilybainne on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:44pm

I used to think that there was medication out there that could “fix” certain “impulse” issues.  However, everyone is right.  No medication will “fix” certain impulse control issues.  You have to control them on your own.  However, I find that some of the impulse control issues are connected with anxiety.  If one is nervous then they tend get anxious and become extremely chatty.  So, maybe finding ways to get your child to “keep calm and carry on”, then it might help somewhat with the impulse control issue.  I find that, for me, relaxation is the key.  It is still not perfect, but it definitely helps with the poor impulse control!  Good luck!

Posted by tinalunior83 on Nov 01, 2013 at 3:09am

Hi Daisy2004,

I agree with Faye, giving your child and his classmates parents the knowledge that all children are not the same is important. Too much stigma has been placed on “problem” children throughout the years. And children with these social and behavioral issues are not “problem children” they just need a little more help. By being honest with your child, teaching him the differences in his behaviors, brain, etc you arm him with knowledge and help him understand why he does the things he does and how he can work on it with you, his teachers and his peers. Children with ADHD need constant guidance, structure and discipline, motivation and encouragement.

Concerta works but you may need an additional medication for other difficulties. Currently we use 4mg of Intuniv at night; this helps slow his thoughts and makes him a bit sleepy and we use Valerian Root to promote sleep because it has no long term affects on the brains production or dependence on artificial Melatonin as it promotes natural production of Melatonin in the brain. We also use 18mg of Concerta in the morning and this has stopped the noises and most of his figiting. He is able to concentrate more on schoolwork and homework so he is more productive throughout the day.

Socially, it’s about teaching him skills and reminding him to share conversation and activities. We have our son enrolled in soccer. He is able to meet new friends outside of the classroom, interact with other children of different ages as his teammates are in the under 10 group, between ages 8-10 and this gives him the ability to interact with children of different age ranges. Also, soccer is teaching him to focus his extra energy on something other than schoolwork, which can be boring for ADHD kids and takes strict concentration, while this sport doesn’t require as much. So far it has worked well and he is doing pretty good socially outside of school.

I hope you find comfort in the knowledge you are not alone and while your child will have to learn social skills on his/her own, you may be able to direct them in a sport or arranged social environment to help.

Posted by joeysmom on Nov 01, 2013 at 4:29pm

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