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ADHD medication: What you should know

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By Shashank V. Joshi, M.D.,FAAP

Managing medication at home

Again, your child's doctor will go over the specifics, depending on the medicine used. I encourage all patients to take all medicines seven days a week, at least for the first month. This allows parents to observe any changes during the weekends. If the team decides that taking the medication is not necessary on the weekends, so be it. However, this rule only applies to the psychostimulants. All other psychotropic medications need to be taken each and every day unless the doctor tells you otherwise.

Be sure to pick your words carefully when praising your child's behavior or setting limits. "Wow, you're having a great day today. You must have taken your meds!" is a somewhat backhanded compliment. Better to say, "Wow, you're trying really hard today. Nice job of paying attention, (or cleaning your room, sticking with a hard assignment, or staying in your seat"). Without overdoing it, publicly praise as much as possible to bolster self-esteem and focus on your child's strengths. Be generous with the small but significant non-verbal cues of life — a pat on the back here, a high-five there. You're spending a lot of time, effort, and spirit seeking treatment for the problem; just don't forget to nurture what's good about your child!!

Looking toward your child's future

In general, most children and teens do not outgrow their ADHD, so medications may be helpful over the entire lifespan. However, depending on the specific type of ADHD (i.e., inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined), interventions may need to be adjusted over time. Teens and adults are capable of developing cognitive strategies that were not possible for them as children, which may lead to successful management of their ADHD, and which may lessen or eliminate the need for medication.

Comments from readers

"Keep your kids -- or anybody, for that matter -- away from Strattera. Causes rage in even the lowest doses, esp. in children and young adults. "
"This video is pretty interesting and might give people some food for thought on treating ADHD with their children. We had our children on medication after their diagnoses, but since have take them off. We're sure it's on a case by case basis, but they have shown improvements with our alternate methods (and guidance from their doctor)."
"I am so thrilled that there is so much helpful information on here about medications when your child has ADHD. I now can understand much more about how the medicine may effect my son. My son is 4 with mainly impulsive issues and behavior in reguards to ADHD but also a communication disorder. So it gets pretty complicated. We tried Metadate CD and my son was talking more,but more hyper and then began to get extremely over-emotional and had crying spells all night,it was very hard to go through that and see him that hyper and it was scary. My concern was,what was it doing to his thoughts? His ability to communicate? He can't tell me but I can see it doing something. Now we are considering Strattera,but Medicaid won't cover it but my son's develop. pediatrician said we can try samples to see if it will work. What is the best treatment for a child with ADHD and developmental disorders/communication/sensory/fine-motor,do you think medication would interfere with these other under! lying disorders? I also have read articles about kids being diagnosed with ADHD when they really have Bi-polar.(My son does have all those red-flags) I am spinning in' disorders',could you please help? "
"Good article and helps us parents who may be dealing with this. "
"Please continue to provide the Public with this Helpful Information. I have 12 year old son with ADHD and it drive me crazy, I get daily calls form his teachers on his behavior, when he's not on his Meds. He been taken Focalin for more than a Year now It works Great. He's a smart kids he gets great grades in school it just he has trouble sitting still I've witness this first hand. When he Home I find things for him to do He loves video games beats them In a few weeks and trades them In for a New One. It hard to keep him attention. I really really enjoy all the Information you have posted its verry helpful, mothers are the Ones who suffer as well alon with the child. Question: Has there been any research as to why this Illness has come about? Laverne Newton South Carolina."