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School and Meds

I have and 8 year old boy, he was diagnosed in Nov.
He was falling way behind in school and reading was a big concern. After much thought we decided to try meds. Complete 180 within a month. He is A’s and B’s and he was even student of the month.
I am very worried about leaving him and medicine. My plan was to finish school year and take him off and figure something else out for next year.
Right now he is currently in a class of 30 kids.
I guess I wondering, if we take him off meds would it be better to put him in a class of 22-25 students?
It is also a charter school that is like a private school.
They demand more of kids and better behaved and more controlled in this environment. Would he be more likely to be able to focus in a class and school like that?
If there aren’t so many other kids to feed off of and get distracted as much.

Replies

I wouldn’t suggest putting him on the meds and than taking him off taking kids off meds can have a bad adverse reaction. It’s not as easy as you think you can’t just stop giving it to them. I would consult your doctor before deciding to take them off. Consider doing meds in addition to a more natural approach so that in the future you can take them off without as much problems that’s what I’m trying with my son he’s just now 9 diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at 6. I wish I didn’t have to use meds but like you said complete 180 from before I hope to someday take meds away all together. Good luck I hope whatever you do it all works out for the best!!!

Posted by BakingGoddess23 on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:42am

A couple people have told me about the taking him off thing. But what I’ve been doing is taking him off on weekends and breaks. Dr said I could do that. Is that bad? I had worried over spring break cause he was complaining of stomach aches but Dr said wasn’t a side effect cause he wasn’t on medicine.

Posted by Mommy2IrishBoys on Apr 11, 2014 at 9:51am

Medications are quite literally life-savers for many people with ADHD and there is no reason to stop using something so vital to an ADHD person’s well-being. My son’s life, like yours, changed miraculously once on medications and I would never put him back into the same situation of suffering he was in before medication.

I have a condition myself which requires me to take an anticonvulsant every day. There will never be a point where I will take myself off of this medication so that I can suffer again and I feel the exact same way about my son’s medication. Even he knows he needs it and knows it helps him. His school life would be so miserable without it.

As parents we most likely all say at first ‘I don’t want to put my child on medications’, however in truth ADHD is akin to a medical condition, one in which there is not ideal levels of a neurotransmitter. So medications, which work, which are safe, which are vital, help children to have happy childhoods. Just like your son.

How absolutely wonderful that your son is doing so well in school!! In a private charter school no less which won’t even have the same accommodation plans. Please don’t take him off his medications so that he won’t do as well anymore. That’s so unfair to everyone involved. Medications are to the ADHD child what glasses are to those who have trouble seeing. The side effects are truly minimal and manageable compared with the benefits they provide.

The ability to focus, remember, filter distractions, sit still, control impulsive behavior and much more are compromised in anyone with ADHD so when medication works please don’t give it up. It doesn’t matter if there are 30 students or 3 students in his class. ADHD doesn’t work that way, your son will not be able to focus as effectively. Why take chances with your student of the month, A and B grade student? He will be so proud and feel successful so why take a chance and put that at risk?

Posted by Havebeenthere on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:40pm

I don’t want to sound mean or anything, but if meds. help your kid, why would you take him off them? That doesn’t make any sense to me. My son, who is 9, has been in a class of 19-24 for his entire school career, but is still on meds. Without them, he wouldn’t be able to function.

We’ve got to get away from the notion that meds are bad. They are good for kids with ADHD. So, keep him on them regardless of the school he attends. I would also suggest that you get him six months of reading help. This will make up for all the learning he missed when he was unable to focus on the lessons.

Hope this isn’t too condemning. I wish you well in your journey.
Susan in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Apr 11, 2014 at 3:04pm

Taking him on and off can cause him to fall behind and eventually, he will have difficulty catching up. If the medication works, it means that he needs it. That, combined with structure and expectations are what helps the child to excel. Some food for thought: kids whose symptoms go untreated can lead to self-medication and drug abuse in the teen years. That would be a prime motivation as a parent to give him what he needs to succeed.

Posted by Speduc8r on Apr 11, 2014 at 3:44pm

I agree with Susan. Here is what I tell my friends who don’t want to use meds….. If your child had cancer, would you withhold chemo treatments?  ADHD is a disorder that is typically treated well with meds.  I was against the meds when my daughter (now 10) was diagnosed, but once I saw what a difference it makes, I’ve never looked back.

One thing I do in the summer, is give my daughter a smaller dose of her meds.  She takes Focalin XR and the doctor told me to open the capsule and pour half in a spoonful of applesauce and give it to her.

Good luck,

Tammy

Posted by Tamiller30022 on Apr 11, 2014 at 4:20pm

I understand not wanting to have your child take medication but if he is doing so well and his self confidence must be improved as well. All of that hard work he has done will slip away. My son started medication this school year (3rd) and we waited to long to start him. I see a huge improvement in his self esteem and his teacher is seeing improvement as well as his peers. I am keeping my son on his medication for the summer so he can continue to grow and develop those social peer relationships.  Have you tried social work at school? My son saw his for 3 months as well. This helped him with anxiety and peer relationships. He is a quiet only child who has a hard time making friendships. Good luck!

Posted by Mforrest79 on Apr 11, 2014 at 4:58pm

Dr. Larry Silvers, renowned in the field of ADHD, addressed the controversial topic of medication vacations on ADitudeMag.com. Here’s his opinion: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1698.html.

I do agree with others on the fact that your child should remain on medication if it helps. He may actually ask to go back on it if things start to fall apart for him again. He will recognize then how much it truly helped him succeed. We tried a medication vacation a couple summers ago with my son—within 3 days he was asking to take his medication again—he couldn’t enjoy anything flittering around from task to task every 5 minutes.

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

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 11, 2014 at 5:33pm

Not wanting to pile on so I’ll be brief.

I agree that if medications make the world of difference, don’t take that world away.

Regarding medication vacations, our neurologist is against them. He says that even after a weekend, the side effects start up again once our DD starts up on Monday. Also, he wants her to feel like the same kid on the weekends as she does during the week, especially since she is working on social issues. That is when she plays with friends and she should feel the same calm and focus she feels during the week as on her playdates.

I don’t think it is fair to give a child a solution and take that solution away because of some cultural stereotype about medicating children for ADHD. People accuse the medical feel of over-prescribing for ADHD, yet for my daughter it works. I, too, had an issue with it but once I saw the difference it made, I will defend using medication over and over again.

I say, give your child what he needs to succeed.

Posted by momodoodle on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:33pm

As a parent of 2 children with ADHD and myself being an adult who was diagnosed with it 2 years ago, one of the most loving things you did for your son was to put him on medication.  I was like so many, it broke my heart to have to put my kids on medication.  I tried going gluten free, taking dyes out, etc. before deciding it was time.  It was night and day once they were on it.  Their teachers, family members and we were amazed at the difference.  Socially was even more important.  Academically they both thrived.

As an adult with it, I fully understand how my kids brains couldn’t process things and it was a struggle to get basic tasks done.  If I had been diagnosed when I was younger, I can only imagine how much my world would have been different.  It’s extremely hard to maintain friendships when others think you’re not paying attention to them.  So you’re not only helping academically, you’re providing him a tremendous ability to relate to others better and built strong relationships!  It’s more than just how he performs at school. ADHD doesn’t decrease when we’re away from structured environments (structure makes it harder when we don’t have the tools to meet the requirements).  I also don’t take breaks with myself or my kids because like others have said, they clearly respond better to everything when on them.  I want my children to have healthy relationships and I know that they can now. 

If one doesn’t have ADHD, it is difficult to understand what our brains are like without medication.  I totally understand that as a parent, it is hard to want to go that route.  But if it makes his world so much better as you described, please don’t take that away from him.  He will self medicate down the road or have extremely risky behavior because he can’t control his impulses.  I can say that because I personally know.  It’s clear how much you love him.  Giving him the tools to keep his life on track is an extremely wonderful way of showing him that as well. 

Good luck and I hope everything works out for you and especially your son.

Posted by gardengirl on Apr 12, 2014 at 7:05pm

Hello,
Three years ago I gave my son 30mg per day. Then, stopped on the weekends and school breaks. Now I give him 10mg only on school days, and only on school days that have work, not on school days that are minimum, field trips, etc. I never give him meds for home because I use strategies and teach him Cognitive-behavioral therapy. His doctor actually suggested not using it at home so he can learn to regulate himself.

Posted by 1fatherslove on Apr 12, 2014 at 7:11pm

I agree with the posters about not taking him off meds if it works well w/out side effects (and we have thus far avoided them, b/c my son hasn’t fallen behind. You don’t want that to happen.).  Look into alternative therapies that may allow you to reduce meds.  Dietary changes (ie: gluten to try, and the other common “allergens”) - this helped my son.  High dose Omega-3’s/cod liver oil (ask your Dr. - way more than those silly children’s chewables); this also helped.  And what has had an even bigger effect than the other two, recently: neurofeedback.  It is being covered by many insurances now b/c of the science behind it.  Really wonderful - all his teachers have seen the difference.  In Michigan, Neurocore is who we use (http://www.theneurocore.com).

As for trying a charter school with a smaller class, that may indeed help.  My son’s charter school is actually very committed to special needs, and fully implements his IEP for him. Good luck.

Posted by Katherine85 on Apr 12, 2014 at 9:02pm

This is a good example of how each situation is different individualized. No one size fits all. Wish it were!  It would be a lot easier to figure out. That said, here are my two cents:

If he’s doing well, keep him on the meds. If my son had been doing well, he’d still be on his meds. But we’re changing things because although school was obviously better, it wasn’t “night and day”, and we were having more trouble in other areas— he was losing weight, meltdowns everyday before and after school, and he couldn’t function in his karate class. We will try something else. 

I understand not wanting him in meds, and helping him learn to handle things on other ways. We waited a few years before meds and we all learned valuable life lessons. I like the idea of taking a break, or lowering doses for the summer when things aren’t so demanding. Some sort of counseling, social skills class, etc., should always be a part of the plan, meds or no meds.

Also, it’s been very clear for my son that he does better in small groups, with or without meds. We will always look for smaller class size, but it can’t replace meds for us. It’s not a big enough factor. It may be for some people, but not a factor at all for others.

So maybe leave him on meds through the school year, then see how he does without for the summer, and see about getting him in a smaller class?  You can always start meds again, but breaking up his good momentum now could be a big setback. Good luck!

Posted by Stephanne on Apr 14, 2014 at 3:23am

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