The Toughest Decision Ever: Putting Our Son on ADD/ADHD Medication

Posted May 5, 2010 by

Earlier this year, my husband and I spent countless days, weeks and months wondering whether or not our son had ADD.  We wrung our hands, consulted experts, fought with our son, and I ground my teeth down to the point that I needed root canal surgery.  After the diagnosis of ADD was confirmed, we breathed a sigh of relief and thought that the worst of our problems were over.  We had a diagnosis and felt we could move ahead with our treatment.  Problem solved, right?  Well, sort of.
We began treating our son with all the wonderful tips from Dr. Bob Meyers “Total Focus” workbook, which lists many helpful hints for children with ADD/ADHD.  Many of these worked wonders on our son.  In addition, we changed his diet, increased his omega-3’s with supplements, took out every single additive and dye we could think of in his food, and created a reward system that we thought certain would correct every ounce of his inattention.  At the end of the day, however, he was still struggling.  Finally, on the advice of our pediatrician, we were faced with the prospect of starting our son on medication.

I hate to admit this, but I must:  I was one of those moms who swore up and down that my child would never be on medication.  We live one of those annoying lifestyles that involves organic foods, regular bedtimes, consistent discipline, and high expectations. I have a doctorate in psychology, so I reasoned to myself, “Surely I can figure all this out on my own — right?” 

Wrong.  My sanctimonious bubble has been burst and I am a better mother for it.  My child needed medication.  My friend and fellow psychologist changed my mind by putting it this way:  “You are so worried about harming Nate by putting him on medication, but what if you are harming him more by not doing so.”  What a revelation.  She was completely right of course—we were harming him more by watching him struggle at school, feel completely disorganized and watch his self-esteem plummet as his siblings and friends were figuring things out that he couldn’t. You’d think that if anyone would be able to realize this it would be a psychologist, but I didn’t.  This decision was the hardest one we’ve made so far as parents.

Now the good news: Flash forward ahead 3 months and my wonderful son is a new kid.  I checked his grades yesterday and they were better than they’ve ever been.  His teacher told me that it is like he is a different child.  He sits in his desk, he focuses on his work, he sleeps better, and his handwriting is so neat that his teacher didn’t even recognize it!  Finally, he is taking his time to do the work he was intended to do.  Lest you think medication has changed everything, it hasn’t.  He is still my most stubborn child, strong-willed, complaining about homework, chores, and bedtime.  He still hates the piano and fights endlessly with his siblings.  But I see something in him I never saw before:  self-confidence.

I have learned an important lesson these last few months, not just as a mom, but as a psychologist whose job is to supposedly have all the answers.  What I learned was that there are no perfect answers;  what works for one family may not work for the next.  A treatment for one child may be completely wrong for another.  That one mother may react in a cool and calm manner as her child goes through this process (not me) while another tears her hair out, wonders where she went wrong and cries (me).  The point here is that if your child is suffering, talk to your pediatrician today about what you can do that may help them work up to their potential.  It may be the best call you ever make.

About

Dr. Joan Simeo Munson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. She has worked with incarcerated individuals, families, adolescents, and college students in a variety of settings, including county and city jails, community mental health centers, university counseling centers, and hospitals. She also has a background in individual, group, and couples counseling. Dr. Munson lives in Colorado with her husband and three energetic children. She currently has a private practice in Boulder where she sees adults, couples and adolescents.

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  1. luvmykids (Edit) Report

    I just want to say thank you to all who have posted their experiences. This is the hardest decision we’ve made, and it kills me that it’s taken 8 years. Our son was diagnosed with ODD,OCD,
    and ADHD at the age of 4. The main symptoms he had were of the OCD and ODD. Temper tantrums were a way of life for him, over any task. “Christopher, clean up your legos, we”re going for ice cream”. He couldn’t help it. Medication was never really an option back then, as he was underweight,(still is) and NEVER showed signs of hyperactivity. I almost convinced myself that we had a misdiagnosis. His teachers looked at me like I was crazy, when I would request meetings. He’s always gotten A’s and B’s with no effort. But try to get him to put in effort, and we’re sitting at the table for HOURS. He’s always had problems sleeping, bedwetting, and asking for help. This past school year, after countless emails about his lack of effort, ABSOLUTE refusal to stand in front of class, take suggestions from peers or teachers, resistance to projects he doesn’t think he’ll do well on anyways, and lack of speech in general at school, we decided that counseling, egg timers and positive reinforcements weren’t enough. His low self esteem has been getting in the way of living. He’s such a bright boy, still received A’s and B’s for the year, but I wouldn’t care if he was getting D’s if he put a pinky’s worth of effort into anything. Effort in conversations, picking an ice cream flavor, clothes that he likes, are daily battles. We opted for medicine, and he started Strattera last week. I’m hoping that this will help him come out of his shell, and make friends in the seventh grade.

    Reply
  2. jo (Edit) Report

    My daughter is 15 and we have just started trying some medications. I struggled immensely with this decision, but she finally came to me and asked if there was only a happy pill that she could take to help her control her anger. That scared me but at the same time I woke up to the fact that she recognized she needed some help to cope. Help beyond all of the behaviour stuff we tried. She sees red in a fraction of a second and deep breathing just pissed her off more.

    I still don’t think meds will work. I still want her to change her diet drastically and use supplements and therapy. But these things will not work for her because she doesn’t believe they will work for her.

    Last week she attended a program for teens at a place called The Haven
    She said the program (Teens Alive) has helped her more than anything else and that she finally feels like she have some tools to begin coping with life.

    Everyone is different. Every child, every parent. It is nice to hear everyone’s stories so that we know we are not alone, but be careful not to judge yourself (or others) against them. What works for one may not work for another.

    Reply
  3. Jackie (Edit) Report

    Thank you all for sharing your comments on both sides of the debate. My 6 yr old son has to repeat Kindergarten this year because his teacher and principal feel it will give him more confidence. This past school year, he spent many hours in the “Thinking Chair” because of his behavior. When I ask him about it, he says he doesn’t know why and that he cannot focus no matter how hard he tries. Then he says that he is just not smart and the teachers don’t like him. I know my baby boy needs some help. The psychologist said he shows signs of ADHD, however, he has not been diagnosed. I will schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist soon. I now have a better understanding and know what my next step will be. I wish the best for all parents, especially the ones who have to do this alone. It’s not easy, so find support online or in your community. Thanks you for this article and for the comments.

    Reply
  4. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for weighing in on the debate. I must say though that this is not a situation that most parents make lightly. Do some parents medicate their kids because they don’t want to deal with them? Absolutely. Do these kids have problems as a result? Of course. But until you have seen first hand how medication can help a child you have no authority to judge. My child is neither “numb” nor “apathetic”. He is focused. He is also positive now, his self esteem has risen and, in his words, he can think clearly. He is creative, loving, funny, artistic and bright. Nothing has changed for him except that he can focus on what his teacher is saying!

    Children take medication for all types of chemical and physical problems. Parents agonize each day over the decisions we make. Most of us want what is best for our children and try every single option available before coming to a decision. Each parent has a right to do what they feel in their gut is the best for their specific child, as no two kids needs are the same. When a person has walked a mile in the shoes of a child who struggles each and every day with ADD/ADHD, then they are qualified to make whatever decision they choose.

    Reply
  5. Mike (Edit) Report

    Sorry, medication is NOT the answer! We as a people do not understand enough about how the mind, body, and soul or psyche work, yet we have created very, very powerful chemicals that alter the mind and body in innumerable ways. These have horrible side effects and there have been countless stories. PLEASE do not medicate your child. Help them learn how to deal with their problems, whatever they might be, head-on and confront them. This is the best way to fix the problem. The meds are extremely dangerous. I’ve seen the kids pre and post meds and, while the behavior issues are curbed, the reason is that the underlying person is DAMAGED. The kids become complicit because they become more numb and apathetic. DON’T do this to your child.

    Reply
  6. Melody (Edit) Report

    This is a fantastic thread! Thank you all for your insight and contributions. It is sooooo helpful to read everyone’s opinions and to have the luxury of learning from one another here, rather than struggling in isolation like I usually do….

    Reply
  7. Lisa Healthy (Edit) Report

    My son had the signs of ADD. Although he was never diagnosed with the disease we ended up putting him on Adderall. I thought this was at least an answer to my prayers. As with all medication it leads to more medication. He was already taking steroids for his Asthma and allergies. I am not sure what caused the depression maybe a combination of the Adderall and the Clariton, which Clariton alone can cause violent mood swings, headaches, bed wetting, and nose bleeds. Any way then the doctor added Zoloft on top of everything. It was in the 6th grade when things went real bad. The school called me to tell me my son was banging his head against the wall and to come and get him. Only on the Adderall and the Zoloft for 1 year he had a breakdown. I ended up putting my son in a mental ward. This is when I said NO MORE! I began to look for natural alternatives. I had remembered the last thing my mother said to me before she passed away was go back to nature go back to natural things. I took a deep breath prayed a lot and took my son off all the medicine. I found out that one of the side effects of sleep deprivation is ADD/ ADHD. My son had told me numerous times that he wasn’t sleeping. I just thought he is a kid and kids don’t sleep well. I am so proud of my son today. He is 19 and does not take any medicine. He told me recently that he is now dreaming again. Since my own problems and my son’s problems with sleep I have started teaching a course at a local university on Sleep. It is amazing how many diseases are due to sleep debt. I have found that creating a wellness environment is the key to quality of life and there is no medicine in the world that can cure us for lack of sleep.

    Reply
  8. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Dear Susan,

    I smiled when I read your letter–it could have been written by me. My son is so sweet, so big-hearted and funny. He is also incredibly strong willed and gets frustrated very easily. He has told me many times that he “just knows I don’t like him.” I too pray for tolerance and strength to deal with this delightful, yet difficult child. There is no one answer for this issue. Only you will know when or if the time is right for your son to try medication. I wish you luck and the confidence and strength to do what will work best for your family.

    Reply
  9. Susy Gyuris (Edit) Report

    As most of you, I’m dealing with an ADHD child that is incredible loving, funny and hyperactive. The pediatrician prescribed a medication that I have not given him, but I have on hand. Why didnt’ I give it to him? I’m afraid of the side effects. We had a sincere talk with him and told h im that in case that all other alternatives fail, he will have to start taking the pills in order for him to focus and to slow down. We implemented serious and strict consequences for his poor behavior. It is so hard to be so strict and loving at the same time. Sometimes he says that he thinks that I don’t like him.. I assure him that I adore him and that my job is to discipline and prepare him for the future. Not easy, but it has worked. I still have the pills. Just in case!! I always think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and take one day at the time. Yes, I pray for tolerance every single day. Good luck to al of you that are going through this difficult situation.

    Reply
  10. Jenna (Edit) Report

    I too am struggling with my 14yr old son, who seems to be ‘head in the clouds’ with school. We have celiac disease predominant in our family. I suggest you research the gluten poison affect. It is my great opinion that diet is most likely 90% of the problem. Just look at any history of food from say the 1500’s on up, especially to Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. Wheat allergies are huge now and more info is becoming available. The gluten poison is deadly. I strongly urge all to research this.

    Reply
  11. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Hi Phyllis,

    Your situation is not uncommon, as many young people are given the wrong medication and/or dosage and parents give up because they are not seeing the results they hoped for. It’s such a hard decision to make with the care of a good doctor to guide you. At this point you are right when you say that there is little to do since your son is an adult.

    However, I think you can try to discuss with him your concerns. You can say, “We are worried about you because we feel that you are not reaching your full potential. We think that you may have some underlying problems that we wished we could have helped you more with when you were younger. However, it is never too late to start over and make things right. I am willing to go with you to a doctor to try to get to the bottom of this, and I hope you will go with me”. Prior to this conversation I recommend researching some local doctors in the area (psychiatrists and/or psychologists) who are well qualified to diagnose a range of psychological problems. You may be the one who calls and makes the appointment and then goes with your son.

    As for whether or not a doctor can make a decision by asking a few questions: this is a hard question to answer since I was not part of that conversation. However, we psychologists are trained to follow a list of symptoms to help diagnose our patients. I don’t know what this doctor did, but unfortunately there is not a battery of tests that help us to diagnose effectively. A lot of diagnosing comes from talking to the person to see if they are experiencing a list of symptoms that qualify them for a particular diagnosis. My suggestion is to keep searching and go with your son to find the doctor that he feels comfortable with. Good luck to you both!

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  12. Phyllis (Edit) Report

    I wish I would have had all this information when my son was younger. He is now 23 years old, did not finish high school, but did get his high school equivalent (GED). He has gone through numerous jobs, usually stays in a job 3 months, then either quits or is fired. He started experiencing with drugs at 16 and has not stopped smoking pot since. My husband and I also struggled with putting him on meds. We did put him on Ritalin when he was in grade 7. We had him on different doses. Usually around suppertime, he had these anger fits. We took him off the meds and got him to see different psychologists which didn’t really help. I wish now that I would have stuck with the meds and tried to find the one that suited him. I am worried that he won’t have much success in life. I try to encourage him to see a doctor and try the medications again, now that he is an adult, but he doesn’t seem to want to admit that he has ADHD and that it is causing him problems in life. Does anyone have any ideas how I could approach him and encourage him to go see our doctor and go from there? He did see a psychiatrist a few years back and this doctor, after talking to my son for maybe a half hour, said he was depressed and started him on medication. I was kind of weary of this quick treatment. How can a person tell someone is depressed with just asking a few questions? Should there not have been other tests done before prescripbing meds?

    Reply
  13. JazzyMom (Edit) Report

    Medication, while not the solution for every child, can be an extremely helpful support for many kids. As a special education teacher, I have seen both sides of the coin- kids that were helped by meds and kids that experienced undesirable side effects from meds. The thing is, though, that you will never know what the proper medication can do for your child until you try. A stimulant, for a child with ADD/ADHD, can make all the difference. It sounds crazy to give a stimulant to an already hyper child, but when you understand why it works it makes perfect sense. One of the reasons that children with ADD struggle is because they do not have proper blood flow to certain areas in the brain. The medication stimulates blood flow to those areas so that they can function fully and allow the child to focus. While I think that blindly medicating every child is wrong, I also think parents that blindly refuse medication for their child are wrong. Each parent needs to make an educated, informed decision for their specific child. If your child had diabetes, would you give him insulin? Of course. Many learning disabilities, including ADD/ADHD are medical issues that may require medical interventions. (By the way, I am not only a teacher, but also a parent of child with her own unique stuggles. She used to be unable to fall asleep due to extreme anxiety and would have terrible nightmares once she did sleep. Clonodine has changed her life for the better, and I am so grateful that we found a wonderful psychiatrist to give us the lifeline we needed.)

    Reply
  14. louise (Edit) Report

    My son is 5yrs old, and has just been diagnosed with adhd, tried elimation diet, fish oil, magnesium, social skills classes for his behavioural issues, all with no luck. We have just started neurofeedback we have only had one session so far, read reviews good and bad about it. Just wondering has anyone else had good experiences with using neurofeedback as an alternate therapy, if this does not work next year we be trying stimulants as he is already losing confidence in him self because of his impulsitivity. I also want to adddress all the negative press that parents of adhd have to face daily by society for not fully understanding adhd and thinking parents are to blame or we must be lacking discipline or feeding our children rubbish, when will it be recognised as an actual condition and not just a naughty child?

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  15. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    This is for the numerous parents who have written in who are stuck with the question: “What do we do next?”. This is the single most frustrating question that exists for those of us with kids who have special needs. Know that this is a journey that you will be on for quite a while. You will be your child’s advocate for as long as he is in school. Unfortunately our schools and our mental health systems, while they have come a long way, are still in great need of an overhaul in order to meet the needs of our kids with psychiatric issues.

    First, continue down the path of trying to find the right child psychiatrist and hence, the right diagnosis for your child. This can take time and patience. The same is true of medications. What works for one child may not work for others, so be vigilant about monitoring your child’s progress while they are on meds. A journal that details your child’s day-to-day mood and activities can help delineate how they respond to medications.

    Second, keep the pressure on your child’s school to enlist their help. I know this is exhausting and sometimes futile, but if your child attends a public school they do have rights as to the services they can receive. If you are getting nowhere, enlist your pediatrician or child psychiatrist in your efforts. They can write letters or call school counselors to make them aware of what your needs are and what you are doing outside of school.

    Lastly, do not allow your child to take advantage of you. Some of you wrote in to say that your child is physically threatening. If this is the case, you need intervention immediately, which needs to come in the form of counseling. Call your pediatrician today and find a counselor that works directly with young people and anger issues. If your child will not go, go without him. It is here that you will learn the proper ways to set boundaries with an aggressive child.

    Advocating for your child throughout his/her development will probably be one of the hardest things that you will do as a parent. Work with a counselor to get support and have someone to lean on during the rough times. Give yourself a big pat on the back as well for caring enough about your child to be spending so much time researching, asking, and trying to understand them.

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  16. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Dear NY Mom,

    You are right in saying that school CAN be the problem! Many, many kids with ADD/ADHD struggle with a traditional school system. Does your school have a counselor that can hook you up with testing for learning disabilities? While I am not saying your son has learning disabilities, it is imperative to see if they have them since often times kids struggle and act out because their learning style is so different from how they are being taught. I would contact your school today to see what type of testing is offered and when your son can be evaluated. The school should be able to offer you some support on this.

    Second, I would contact your pediatrician about a referral to get your son a correct diagnosis. This can be tricky (as it seems you have already experienced) and can require numerous opinions before the right diagnosis is confirmed. Please call your pediatrician today and discuss how to get your son with the right psychiatrist/therapist to determine your next move. I know this is exhausting and as a single parent it can seem overwhelming. But you are on the right track. Don’t give up!

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  17. Deb (Edit) Report

    Unfortunately, I must add that I cannot be moderate in my views because I too have a son, who when he was very young displayed symptoms of YEAST(gut)overload and I was told “they” did not know what the problem was.
    He is now 16 years old and we are only now beginning to treat this problem and receiving results. We have, however, had to endure many rages that, I believe, would have not happened and he could have had an easier time in his life.

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  18. Deb (Edit) Report

    The more I read about all the children with problems, the more I’m seeing that they all seem to be filled with internal toxins, whether they come from foods they are sensitive to or the vaccinations they’ve been forced to receive. Let’s remember that those vaccinations have mercury (poison) in them. And with all the sugar the children have been ingesting (without even knowing at times eg. sodium eurythorbate which is a man-made sugar used as a preservative instead of Vit.C because it is less costly)how can we expect that they can be alright,especially the sensitive ones.
    We are a chemical generation like no other and have passed this down to our children.
    One of the very best things you can do for your children is to have them tested for YEAST. Internal (gut)yeast is causing far too many problems. This may be a solution many have not even thought about and yet it may “fix” their problems. Something to think about.

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  19. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    This is a response to parents concerned about heart issues or other side effects of medication. Any time parents are considering this, it is imperative to discuss their options with a child psychiatrist. They are the most qualified in treating children who are on meds and have the best background in the potential side effects that can occur. Always have your child receive a full physical prior to beginning any new medicine and alert your pediatrician to whatever your child will be on. Some children are born with heart defects or other congenital problems and a psychiatrist may say that stimulants are not recommended.

    Obviously even one child dying from a medication is too many, but we need to be calm and sensible when making these decisions. In our neighborhood a child died from a reaction to an antibiotic, but it would go against common sense to claim that we should never prescribe antibiotics to treat infections in our kids. The same is true of psychiatric meds: do your homework and talk to a child psychiatrist as well as your pediatrician. Schedule follow up appointments and keep your doctor’s aware of how your child is doing.

    Comments thrown out without being researched simply cause hysteria and panic in parents who are trying to do the best for their children.

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  20. Kev's Mom (Edit) Report

    My 7 yr old son is currently “on a break” from school. We took him off Intuniv becuse, frankly, it wasn’t working. We didn’t see any aggressive behavior and have been using the Nurtured Heart Approach. (Positive reinforcement) He consistently calls himself stupid, says he’s not worth it, and is so down on himself, it’s scary. We had a meeting with his teacher, the principal, and the social worker and they are willing to let him come back 1/2 days. Well, he had a “meltdown” when we got home from the meeting and I am rethinking letting him go back. It feels like a vicious cycle. He is under-socialized and yet, he needs contact with kids his own age. They are in the process of testing him for LD’s and a full psychiatric evaluation, plus his IQ, among other tests. His counselor is leaning towards a sensory problem. I take him today for yet another visit with his ped Psychiatrist. He isn’t diagnosed with anything yet and I know in my heart that he needs some sort of meds to help him control his anger. I fear that being so bright a child , he has learned that he can get away with stuff by behaving badly. He says he needs to scare people so they will leave him alone. Very frustrating for all involved. I do worry about combining drugs and want to do whats best for him to reach his full potential. This sucks!

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  21. Be aware!!! (Edit) Report

    I appreciate the fact that your son is doing better..But my good friend’s son past away with a heart attack at the age of 8 taking medication for adhd, so please do some more research with regards to the medication your son is taking and make sure it is safe!!1
    Concerned

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  22. Roebuck, SC (Edit) Report

    My wife and I too have struggle with this issue. We adopted a now 7 year old special needs boy diagnosed with ADHD/ODD. He also has a family history of mental illness. He was taking Adderrall XR, Risperidone, and Clonidine. He is already at a disadvantage because he overdosed twice on his mothers bipolar meds at a young age. We would describe his case as severe. His social and educational development is far off course. He is however a bright child who can out read most children. His short term memory is nonexistent and his long term memory is remarkably detailed. When he was placed with us, he had terrible crying spells (hours) if he didn’t get what he wanted. He could not deal with not getting his way. We started by removing the Risperidone, which had been black labeled for use in children. It was astounding at the difference it made and for the first time we seen him smile. He kept sleep walking/talking in the middle of the night so we removed the other two meds. The severe crying and sleepwalking disappeared for the most part. What was left was a bubbly little boy who was happy. Uncontrollable but happy. Now realizing he is going to have to take some kind of medication, we are struggling to figure out which meds might better suit him. Yet he remains a problem at home and school. We are both exhausted but are determined to find a solution. Our Pediatrician told us medication as far as she was concerned was not for the child but those around them and was primarily used as a control method. She also pointed out there is no known cure for mental issues and it likely would not go away and could get better or worse with time. It’s very difficult knowing what to do or not do.

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  23. Mary (Edit) Report

    My son is 11 years old and has been on Medication since he was 5. My husband and I tried everything before we agreed to medication, in the year we waited he was kicked out of 3 different daycares because he couldnt be “controlled”m he was way to hyper. Putting him on the meds have not cured everything but my child who couldnt sit still now had straight A’s, highest scores on all state exams, and is an excellent all around athlete. One day his phychiatrist told us “if chase needed glasses to see would you get him a pair?” of course I said. He said well his brain needs the medicine to comprehend and function, so we tried it and we have had to change medication as he gets older and he still has regular visits to pychiatrist. I would say dont see just a pediatrician, get a phyciatrist to determine it.

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  24. Amberlee (Edit) Report

    Hello Dr. Joan,
    I really liked what you had to say. I have had my son on meds since he was in 2nd grade, he is now completing hopefully 6th. We have gone through many different meds & are now on vyvanse & abilify but although they worked for the later part of 5th grade they are no longer helping & I don’t know what to do. I just purchased the Total transformation program but my son just laughed. He said you B…. I’m not going to do any f….. program. He swears at me all the time, total disrespect, ignores all consequences & rules. He is stronger than me so it is hard to force him to do anything. I have threatened to call the police before but he knows that I can’t seem to go to that extreme. How can I call the police, when he says he will just tell them that I abuse him so that they will take me away. I cry all the time, I am exahusted & frustrated that my baby is turning into someone I hate to be around. Where can I turn? thank you for your time.

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  25. Caren (Edit) Report

    My story is pretty similar in that I also sore I would never put a Child of mine on Medication for ADD but her we are. Our 8 year old was diagnosed with ADD last year and we have been helping him with many things and Meds since then. On the first day he took them his teacher said – Like chalk and cheese. He is not even Hyperactive and there has been a big difference. I would like to encourage parents who have not yet considered Medication for ADD /ADHD. Please consider it. YOu will be helping your child in so many ways and doing him / her a great favour.

    Reply
  26. Darla (Edit) Report

    We have shared custody(week to week) with our 9 yr old son. I as a mother is trying to do everything possibly right.I am not getting much help by the other half. Therefor my son is confused and unstable. He wants him on meds. I dont. I know what the problem is. I am raising my son on my own.

    Reply
  27. C.C. (Edit) Report

    Treating ADD and ADHD naturally, without harmful medications is possible.

    What NOT to eat: to avoid always.

    =No dairy products at all costs, especially milk from cows. This is the No. 1 restriction by far. Almond or rice milk are better alternatives. If you can, avoid milk altogether and go with lots of water. A general rule of thumb is 10 glasses a day. Water in sodas and sweet drinks do not count. H20 from the tab or bottle is fine.
    =Yellow foods are out. Try to avoid squash or corn. Don’t eat banana peels.
    =Anything with a cellophane wrapper should not be eaten. This includes most candies.
    =Sugar intake should be cut by 90 percent or more if possible. It’s hard to consume anything that doesn’t have sugar, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
    Fruit Juices are out because of their high sugar content. =If you want to have juice, dilute it with water and try to avoid a glass of apple juice which has more sugar than seven apples combined.
    =No chocolate! Cut it by 90%, or once again, none of possible.
    =NO NutraSweet; Splenda etc.
    =NO MSG and processed meats. Buy ONLY Grass-Fed-Meats!
    Fried foods should be eliminated
    Avoid food colorings whenever you can. Some colors make people particularly sensitive, like yellows and reads.

    WHAT TO EAT TO FEED THE ADHD BRAIN
    =Try to fill your breakfast with low cards and high protein. Get rid of traditional breakfast cereals and milk. You should concentrate on the powerful 60 percent protein and 40 percent carb formula for breakfast. Try to keep it 50/50 for other meals.
    =Look into protein supplements to give you an added boost during breakfast time. One good source is organic, cage free eggs. Otherwise, you can use a fine quality whey protein powder. There is a wide selection available at your local health food store. Aim for the ones with mostly proteins and few carbs.
    =BerryLicous Super Multi – Vitamin and Mineral supplements could give you a good boost.
    =Attend, Memorin, or Extress. The Attend products works for most people, and Extress could be used as a supplement to help with temper tantrums and hyperactivity. For problems with memory, Memorin focuses on the learning process. All are recommended. You can get them all at a discount in the ATTEND STRATEGY PACK.
    =Bright Brain – Omega 3 Fatty acids give a productive jolt to the brain, and is good for the heart too.
    =Yummie Veggie Fruities – Don’t forget your fruits and veggetables.

    Very Important Final Thoughts
    Try to avoid toxic metals like lead, mercury, and aluminum. Lead is very common in China made toys. Aluminum can be found in deodorants and should be avoided.
    Use only chemical free personal care products.

    Homeopathic remedy that works:
    http://www.add-adhd-alternative-treatment.com/Vaxa-Attend-Information.htm

    Reply
  28. lady4mk (Edit) Report

    Dr. Joan,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Where I live, there is no CHADD group at this time.

    My son who just turned 11 has been diagnosed with Inattentive and Hyperactive ADHD a couple of years ago. He is on 3 different medicines. It is like night and day with and without the medicine. I have also taken out the sugar and the food coloring out of his diet. I also supplement his diet with Juice Plus and Fish Oil. As long as my son gets a couple of hours of exercise a day he is pretty good. When his medicine gets low during the day or in the evening he gets what I call “breakthrough hyperactivity and defiant behavior”. I have just bought him a trampoline so that he can “jump out” his hyperactivity.

    He was in public school until 2 years ago. I got frustrated with them taking away recess and p.e. as a consequence for bad behavior. When they said that he didn’t qualify for a 504, I decided that I had had enough. He has been in Charter School for 2 years now. It is challenging, but I got the 504 and an IEP that he needed and he also qualified for Occupation Therapy along with tutoring help.

    I hope at some point that there will be a CHADD group in my area again.

    Theresa

    Reply
  29. momof2 (Edit) Report

    So what about all of the information out there that says that our children would be at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke while taking ADHD meds? We are considering meds for our 7 year old daughter, but these warnings have us scared to death.

    Reply
  30. David (Edit) Report

    I had the same adamant determination for our two year old guardianee(now four). We were at our wits end. My wife had been in child care for 20 some years and never seen behavior like his. The child Psychiatrist we went to told me the same thing your friend told you. We started out with a bipolar diagnosis, and started him on Resperidone. He improved, but as time went on it became apparent that there were deeper problems. His diagnosis has been ammended to include Asperger’s Disorder (mild, high functioning), and ADHD. We are now trying Intuniv and Resperidone with mixed results. The 1mg of Int. seems at times to make him too tired and sad. At other times he seems to be improving. There has always been a question about medicating at such a young age. He is in developmental preschool, has an IEP, and other help. I hope we are doing the right thing to help prevent further problems.

    Reply
  31. NYMom (Edit) Report

    It is important for me to read all of these posts and I appreciate them. I have been going through much the same with a 9 year old that was a happy, engaging child until he started first grade. He has learning disabilities that we are still discovering after 2 1/2 years (as we near the end of 3rd grade). He began acting out aggressively, I think because of his academic frustrations. He has been diagnosed ADHD, at the time I was willing to try anything that would help – but the meds exacerbated the problems. Then he was diagnosed Bipolar. I tried those meds as well. Once I read a little more about it I took him off. He was doing very well for almost a year but had a set-back. I have been pursuing every avenue possible to me. I am a single mom with no financial (or otherwise) support from his father. I am constantly exhausted and overwhelmed. A new doctor has recommended the blood pressure drug but I am awaiting results of other tests.

    Here is my difference of opinion from other responders: Does he have to do well in school? Can’t school BE the PROBLEM? He is a smart boy. He learns differently. The schools do their best to serve the majority of students. They cannot serve the needs of every child. I believe his behavioral problems stem from his frustrations with attempting to learn in the wrong environment for him. Unfortunately, now that he has behavioral problems, private schools are not willing to take on that responsibility.
    I have considered moving, taking him out of school, living in another country for a period of time, anything to take him away from an environment that constantly puts him at the bottom of the rung.
    I welcome any response. Thank you.

    Reply
  32. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Dear Ohio Mom,

    It is time to stop crying and time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done! ALL parents want to try everything possible before turning to medication. I did the same as you and honestly, I am grateful for all my teeth gnashing and tears that came because I couldn’t figure out what to do. Those tears were needed to solidify my decision that we couldn’t do this without meds. You have done the same thing and you did the right thing. You are a great mom for figuring out the pieces of your daughter’s puzzle. Your daughter has forgotten about her previous troubles, now you need to do the same. Congratulations and remember: no looking back, only forward to a great future for you and your daughter.

    Reply
  33. ohiomom (Edit) Report

    Thank you for your article. I reacted just like you Dr. Joan. My daughter is now 9 in the 4th grade was diagnosed with ADD about two years ago. It has been a struggle ever sense. I can not tell you the countless hours I spent working with my daughter. Making sure she remembered assignments, doing homework until 10/11 at night, working really hard only to see a C or D as her grade. Then to top it all off she started pruberty this year and her self-esteem starting declining rapidly. And I went back to work full time and could not devote as much time to making sure she kept up with the rest of her class. It was so frustrating. She had a 504 plan, a behavorial contract, constant reminders and it finally dawned on me that she was not getting better, she was getting frustrated. My daughter started withdrawing and not attempting things for fear of failing. Then she started saying things like, I am dumb, I can’t do this, my day is going to be horrible, I hate myself. Through lots of tears I finally relented and medicated her. The pediatrician suggested a very low dose to start with and on the first day her teachers saw the difference. It is like night and day. All her grades went up one grade level in a month. She is just as bubbly as ever but now her self-esteem is back when it comes to her education. Had I known then what I know now I would not have waited so long. Now I have to stop myself from crying because I waited so long and made her suffer.

    Reply
  34. lauren (Edit) Report

    My child knows he is better on his medication and wants to take it. He just feels calmer, appears happier and better adjusted when he is on his medication. To me, it would be cruel not to allow him to take the medicatio he needs.

    Reply
  35. Stephanie L - Ohio (Edit) Report

    I as a single parent (now remarried after 8 yrs of singleness and doing it alone). I can tell you that after hard work, great therapist, and numerous doctor consultation’s my son is on balance, has completely changed my life and his. My son was 6 when we realized he had ADHD, we did all the test and so on. After several outpatient treatment center for his defiance, behavior problems, arguing and not wanting to do school work during school and homework at home, he is now getting better grades. He was a C and D student, he now an A – B student. He takes vyvance for his ADHD and lithium for his stubbornness and mood, he is complete changed – he is a new boy. Pray, ask for help, trust your doctor’s, trust your gut, if you feel something is not working, get it changed! I wish all parent that are dealing with this enormous problem in todays society many well wishes and remember trust your gut, if it don’t feel right then it is not right. We have tried many medication’s till we found the right one’s that work best for my son. Good Luck to all of us parents.

    Reply
  36. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Dear LuvColby,

    You are in a tough spot, parenting a child by yourself as he struggles himself with so many issues. First, let me start by saying that you are not “frying” your child’s brain. I will say though that you need a second opinion from a medical professional about WHY your child is being prescribed these medications. Second, you need to find a new pharmacist. I’m not kidding–any pharmacist who makes a blanket statement that he would never put a child on stimulants is acting in an unethical fashion. Stimulants work differently for different kids. Not all kids respond to them but they can work wonders for others.

    It is time for you to re-group here. Make an appointment with your pediatrician today and get a good recommendation for a child psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is not a therapist, but rather a medical doctor with experience in treating psychiatric issues and prescribing medicine for kids if needed. It sounds like your therapist, while well-meaning, does not have a full understanding of your son’s diagnosis. He needs to get a diagnosis, then a treatment plan so that he can get on track.

    Lastly, you and your son’s father need to get together on this very divisive issue. Is there any way that the 3 of you can attend a few mediation sessions with the counselor to work out some sort of plan for your son? I highly recommend that the 2 of you visit with the psychiatrist together so that your husband (as well as yourself) can gain a better understanding of what diagnosis your son has and the best ways to treat it. Very often we make rash judgments about medication and psychiatry without really understanding what is being said. It sounds like both of you need a better understanding of why your son is being treated with stimulants and/or blood pressure medication and what the alternatives are.

    This is terribly hard and I urge you to make the appointments necessary as soon as possible. Hang in there and keep advocating for your son. It may take a few opinions before you get the right treatment plan, but he is counting on you to help. You can do this! Good luck.

    Reply
  37. Luvcolby (Edit) Report

    I too tried everything and also said I would not put my son on the meds. My son has now been on meds for ADHD for over a year. Still have not found the miracle. My son still struggles with defiance/temper outbursts. Gets sent home from school weekly. This past week has been bad and I feel very low. We got a new med that is not a stimulant but a blood pressure med and now my son seems very drugged/high. I told the thereapist, that my son sees every month and who prescribes the meds, that the new med was not working and she suggested giving him the blood pressure med and also give him a stimulant.( My son’s dad and I are divorced are his dad does not beleive in the meds and thinks we need to give our son a break from meds.) I am at a loss. It didn;t help when I went to the pharmacy to ask about giving the stimulant and the other med together. He said he would never give his kids a sitmulant at all and to be careful about giving the blood pressure medicine that it can cause dehydration if he doesn’t drink enough water. My son gets very good grades in school but due to his behaviour, gets back marks on the social part. My son will be going to a therapist starting on June 1st for his anger outburst/defiance but that is 3 weeks away which seems like a life time. When my son has his temper outbursts and just is down right defiant and argues with me, I just lose it sometime and just yell at him. I feel like a horrible mother and all by myself and don’t really know what to do. Does this medicine fry my son’s brain like his dad thinks??

    Reply
  38. Jennifer (Edit) Report

    I’m so happy you have found something that works for your child. My daughter has multiple sensory processing disorder, and we are just beginning the long process of occupational therapy and other interventions. I wanted to mention that we have been to an informational session for the Brain Balance program – http://brainbalancecenters.com . They work with a lot of ADHD children, so I thought I’d leave the website in case anyone was looking for non-medical educational and nutritional intervention techniques. Good luck and I hope your child continues to gain self confidence!

    Reply
  39. zimmieoz (Edit) Report

    Our 7year old started meds last week after 3years of elimination diets, behavioural schemes & omega-3 supplements. These methods help a bit but there was always something that didn’t allow him to focus. He was always in 5th gear and loving life but his school work was progressivly lagging and his classmates growing weary. But putting him on meds has given him a new look on school and as you say he is still our fun loving Timmy.

    Reply
  40. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    Hi Susan,

    I am so happy that your decision turned out well for your family. It’s never an easy one but can be worth its weight in gold! Good luck to your entire family.

    Reply
  41. Susan (Edit) Report

    Joan,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. We recently made the same difficult decision to place our teenager on medication. Although there are still more challenges with our ADHD teen than our other 2 children, medication has been a miracle which has helped him gain confidence in school.

    I am happy that my search for ADHD parent support led me to this website.

    Susan

    Reply

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