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Parents of ADHD Children

Six year-old medication considerations
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Greetings,

I am new here.  Things have gotten tougher for my 6 year old daughter in the last couple months with ADHD impacting her mood and social relationships.  I’m considering medication but I’d like input on how to decide on a medication and a prescribing doctor.  Any thoughts on what we need to be considering, where to get information, etc. is valued.  I’m in the mental health field so I understand the meds and what they are.  I’m more interested in real life experiences of whether/how they helped and those things doctors don’t tell you.  Thanks so much!

Replies

We started my son’s journey with medication when he was 6. He is 11 now. These are my thoughts based on personal experience, no formal level of expertise. You can gather all the info in the world but you won’t know if a med will help your child (or cause side effects) until you try. Every kid reacts differently to each med/dose. That said don’t settle for one that isn’t giving your child the results they need or that is causing negative side effects. There are lots of options and it can take a very long time to find the right med/dose/combo. Try to find a pediatric psychiatrist that specializes or has lots of experience with ADHD. A psychologist can diagnose and suggest meds but they cannot prescribe them so they will have to work with an MD and that can be a hassle. Pediatricians don’t typically have the experience or the comfort level with ADHD meds that a psychiatrist will and are often either not comfortable trying things or don’t have the expertise to suggest things that may benefit your child. Also try to find a doc that asks for more info about your child than just their ADHD symptoms and med reactions. Finding someone who is interested in learning about their interests, hobbies, eating habits, friendships, social interactions, etc helps them understand how your child is progressing all around - not just whether or not the meds are helping them focus at school or curbing behavioral problems. It also helps when you have a doc who’s looking at the bigger picture so that they can help identify any other conditions/learning disabilities that might be exacerbating ADHD behaviors. Find a doctor who is regularly available - not one booking out months or weeks in advance. When finding/fine tuning meds sometimes adjustments need to be made weekly. Finally know that meds won’t cure or change behavior. They are a tool to help your child become more settled and comfortable so they can succeed by using tools such as accommodations, and interventions like OT and social skill building. It can be a long journey but once you find a solution it is worth the effort. Best wishes!

Posted by brlk13 on Apr 28, 2017 at 2:42am

***I highly encourage you to post this question to ADDitude’s new discussion forums, as well. I think your question would get a lot of attention in the Treating Your Child forum:  https://www.additudemag.com/forums/forum/parenting-adhd-kids/treating-your-child/. ADDconnect is transitioning over to this new forum now, and will be decommissioned.***

I agree with the insights @brlk13 shared above. The only way to know how a medication will be for your child is for your child to try it. Stimulants aren’t dosed by age or weight — you have to start at the bottom and work your way up until you find the sweet spot. How it works for each individual depends on their own neurotransmitter performance, metabolism, and genetics.

Here are some helpful articles on how ADHD medication works, and what you need to know to find the most effective medication and dose for your child:
https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-medication-11-steps-for-prescribing-it-effectively/
https://www.additudemag.com/stimulant-medications-for-adhd/
https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/what-are-the-side-effects-of-adhd-medication-on-kids/
https://www.additudemag.com/stimulant-strategies/

Penny
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 28, 2017 at 12:57pm

I was an anti-medication Mom when we started this journey.  And I tried everything, except medication, to help my son.  Supplements, therapies, school accommodations, reward systems, etc.

When he hit 3rd grade, it become undeniable that all the strategies, therapies, and supplements we were using just weren’t enough.  Academics and peer relations were suffering.  His self-esteem was going downhill.  So I broke down, cried for a really long time, and made the appointment with a pediatrician I was referred to through friends.

I say, find a pediatrician who will spend the time explaining and answering all of your questions.  We spent an hour (at least) at that initial appointment going over why the doc thought a stimulant was better for my son than a non-stimulant, what the short and long term plan was, why this medication over that medication; why she picked that dosage; etc. 

She was also there for all my follow-up questions/concerns/panic attacks during those first few weeks.  For my son, finding the right medication at the right dosage was pretty easy.  Doc started low and we bumped it up a couple of times before hitting the sweet spot (for us, the sweet spot was where he could focus at school, retain information more efficiently but was still active, happy, and involved in everything he was before). 

He’s been taking medication for 3 years now, and honestly - I wish we had looked into medication sooner.  His self-esteem is through the roof, academically he’s doing great, and socially - he’s still a little bit behind his peers, but we’ve seen advances. 

While I am very pro-medication now, I do believe the therapies and other strategies are a vital part to overall success.  The pill is definitely not a cure-all - it’s more like a piece of the puzzle.

Posted by Pump2Duncan on Apr 28, 2017 at 3:22pm

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