ADHD Parents Together
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ADHD and Ritalin

Hello. I have an 8 year old son who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. We’ve been avoiding medication to see if other factors helped to control some of the issues. We have been using essential oils on him, changed his diet to remove sugars and dyes (which he hardly had any to begin with), and even tried CBD oil. Nothing has noticeably helped. His doctor prescribed a form of Ritalin but I’m not 100% on board with medicating so young. Did anyone else have a hard time deciding on whether or not to medicate? Thanks in advance

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Oh yes, our son and daughter in law tried not using medication for 12 years on our grandson. He’s been through a whole lot of bad times at school. They are working on getting the right dosage now. Getting close and you can see a good difference on the newest dosage in just two days. Hopefully he’ll only need meds for around three years.

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It’s definitely a tough decision to make. I’m glad he’s found the right dosage!

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My daughter is only 5 and we recently made the decision to medicate. We explored other avenues first from age 3-5 but found literally a night and day difference once she finally got on Ritalin. It has made a HUGE difference in her ability to focus in school and increased her cognitive memory as well. After meeting with several developmental doctors, we decided early intervention was a way to help her avoid all the school struggling that we had read about for those who started medication later on in adolescence.

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Thanks for your input! Has she experienced any of the side effects like loss of appetite or headaches?

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It took me a long time to agree to medicate my son on Ritalin but since he started, his behavior and grades have improved a lot. No more complains from school. I will medicate for only 1-2 years. He’s 7 years old

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Good to know, thank you! Has he had any negative side effects?

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Of course it's a hard decision to put your child on medication. But if they're constantly getting in trouble what does that do for their self esteem? And if you wait years to put your child on medicine that is years of them thinking they are bad kids.

I know an adult to one on ADHD medication because he realized that's why he couldn't function well at work. The psychiatrist said sometimes when you get in your twenties you can control it. But 1-2 years of medication is not going to suddenly cure them

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That’s a good point about their self esteem. That is definitely important. I think what’s bothering me the most about it is that I’m afraid of the withdrawal once the medication starts wearing off, and also any long term side effects.

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I started my 6yr old on Ritalin this school year because of his behavior in school. He was close to getting suspended. It has helped tremendously in school. He's able to concentrate and do his work and control his tantrums. It does suppress his appetite when he's on it and when it starts to wear off he he trembles to tge point that he cannot hold his pencil and it scares him. My guess is that it's all thw built up energy coming out at once. I'm changing his meds today, hopefully his doctor has a better suggestion.

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Oh I was thinking maybe the shaking was his withdrawal. I heard the comedown can be brutal if he's not on the right dose. Which is another reason why I'm nervous about trying it. I hope all goes well at your son's doc appointment today!

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We have two doses that we give, one at 7:45, the other at8:45, it helps with the come down a lot!

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I had a really hard time deciding at first ... My now 12 year old- diagnosed when he was 5-combined type- was so hyperactive he ran out in front of cars, fell in a 5 foot window well (snuck out of the house when I was in the shower- thank goodness a neighbor heard him crying).. At that point I knew there was something we had to do for him. He KNOWS now he cant function without his medication. He has been on the same dose for 3 years now but he is going through puberty and I think he may need to be on a smaller dose as he is able to control some of it.

My youngest boy Now 8 is not hyperactive but rather inattentive. The teachers were concerned last year when he was 7. I did NOT want to start him on medication because in my eyes there was nothing wrong with him. However wow was I wrong. He started slipping in school... So, the Dr. put him on a very low dose of Ritalin.. regular short acting and it last almost 6 hours for him. He gets 100% on all his spelling tests, does WAY better in reading and is just overall a better student. On the weekends I give him the choice if he wants to take it or not and he usually tells me yes.

Now the downfall of meds that I have experienced: When the meds wear off, my boys become agitated very easy and get mouthy. When telling the Dr's this they wanted to "add" another medication for this behavior. With my oldest I let them add abilify. NOW I wish I wouldn't have let them do that. If 1 medication causes a side effect then adding another one just makes no sense to me. And Im pretty sure almost ALL adhd meds do this. My oldest son has tried almost every adhd med out there and it has been ruff trying to find the right one for him. Both my boys are skinny and I usually don't eat lunch. We give them breakfast, then meds and then they gorge out on food in the evening when the meds have worn off.

After seeing 4 different Dr's , we finally had a genesight test completed . This test shows how you metabolize medication and which medications you metabolize good, fair and poorly. Metabolization makes a big difference in how the meds work. When we got My 12 year olds test back we found out that there were NO adhd meds that my son metabolizes good. No wonder why we had such a difficult time finding him the right med. This test does NOT tell you everything but it has helped me understand why he has been a challenge.

I could go on and on but that is my story... If you have any other questions here is my email: nelly68310@gmail.com

Janelle

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Wow, thank you! I never heard of the genesight test, that is pretty cool. They should probably do that to all children before they medicate them so that it's not trial by error. My boy is pretty skinny too, I'm afraid of him losing more weight. What was the dosage they put your 7 year old on? They gave mine 20mg to start off with

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20 mg but it zoned him out so now its 10mg short acting once a day

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Good to know. I'll be sure to talk to the doc about the prescribed dose if he seems out of it.

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My 5 year old started at 20mg and zoned out too. Now she’s on 10mg at 8am with a 5mg booster at 1pm. At first her appetite suffered but now she’s adjusted to it. Despite what the bottle says (which is to give her the medicine an hour before she eats) we give her a healthy protein rich breakfast before her medication, she usually picks at her snack and at lunch and then eats a great dinner. She’s skinny too so we are always watching her food intake and will often skip medication on a day or two over the weekend to stuff her full on calories. ☺️

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We waited a long time before starting medication. My son was classified as sensory at 3 yrs and was not officially diagnosed w ADHD until 4th grade but I knew he was ADHD well before that. We waited until 5th grade to start the meds and they’ve made a huge difference. My son did not get in a lot of trouble but was very fidgety in class and called out a lot. He was doing very well academically but homework was a nightmare. In 5th grade he started telling us how I‎t was so hard for him to complete his work. He wanted to but just couldn’t. I‎t broke our hearts to see him so frustrated so we finally tried Meds. He took a low dose of Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and we saw a huge difference.

There were definitely side effects. My son is very thin and I’m constantly feeding him full meals at 9/10 pm and he used to get headaches but those seems to be under control.

Despite the side effects the meds have been very helpful. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Always keep in mind that trying meds does not mean you have to stay on them. If they aren’t working you can stop at anytime.

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Your son sounds exactly like mine! He excels in academics but has problems concentrating and controlling his body and excessive talking in class. Last year at his old school they withheld honor roll from him because he didn't score high enough on classroom behavior. Thank you for your input! Do you wish you started the medications earlier or do you think that 10-11 was a good age?

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I am in you exact situation with my 8 year old son. We just started medication on the 1st of May. I was so reluctant to go the medication route. We also tried the oils, diet change, behavior therapy etc.. School has been a real struggle socially for him. My son is very fidgety and impulsive. After talking with his therapist we decided at this point the ADHD was causing more harm on his self esteem and socially with other kids and it was time to try medication. It was a very tough decision but i felt like i was doing him a disservice by not trying the medication. Now that it has been 2 weeks we definitely see a difference and he seems to be a happier kid which make for happy parents. His behavior reports have been the best they have been all year long. I'm waiting to get in debt feedback from the teacher but from what i can see the last 2 weeks have been much better. I went in with an opened mind and told myself that if we didn't see any positive changes we would quit the medication and reevaluate. Luckily i think the dosage 10mg and type of medication (Adderall) is a good fit for my son so we haven't had any real negative side affects. Its a work in progress. Do what you feel is right for you son. Just know that you are doing your best!

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Thank you! I feel like I've tried nearly everything else so why not try this for him? Then I talk to friends who don't have children with ADHD and they are against medicating young children, so I start to second guess myself.

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Oh yes i have been there. Just remember you are the only one who knows your child best. Don't second guess your gut feelings. Unless you have a child with special needs you will not understand what parents and children are going through. I hope it works out for you and your son!

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I’m sorry to hear that your school withheld honor roll for behavior especially since a lot of your sons behavior is beyond his control. My son got lots of high academic scores and lots of lower behavioral marks. That would have been very upsetting to me.

I sometimes wonder if starting the meds sooner would have been helpful with my sons social relationships. He is very superficial with his friendships and now that he’s in middle school they’re really in charge of their own social life which means he is not connecting with those friends on the weekends much. My son is very outgoing and is involved in a lot of clubs and sports so that helps a lot but he’s not very proactive when I‎t comes to just hanging out. To be honest, he really doesn’t know how to be unstructured.

The main positive to waiting on the meds was that we spent a lot of time teaching him coping skills so he could handle social issues or classroom issues. I think if we started the meds sooner we may have missed out on some of those important lessons.

My advice is go with your gut and don’t let teachers or doctors bully you into a decision. If your son is unhappy and is struggling that’s when the meds are good to try. If he’s happy and it’s just a little harder for the adults around your son, that’s their problem not yours.

Good luck!

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Very true! thanks for your help!

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Medicate him - it will change his life and yours. He may not make it through high school without meds. This is not a disorder that responds well to supplements, diet, etc. ADHD is a neurological disorder that requires specific medication in order to manage it. This is no different than diabetes, hypertension, or any other disorder. Why wouldn't you treat it? We had to start medicating our son at age 9 because he was going to fail the 3rd grade. There are a lot more options for medication now and you may have to try several before you find the best one for your son.

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Hi there. My now 9 year old started medication about 1 1/2 years ago. He is very hyper and impulsive and was getting in a lot of trouble at school. He was also behind in reading for his grade level. He takes Ritalin, 50 mg a day. And that works well for him. He had more noticeable side effects when adjusting the dosage, but on maintenance he mainly has decreased appetite during the day. He was thin to start out with and lost about 5 pounds. But has since gained it back in addition to a few pounds. I have heard that their appetite does get better with time and that has been true for my son. He eats a good breakfast, not much during the day, and eats a lot in the evening. He is also doing so much better in school. He was in advanced math this year, and very proud about it. He also caught up to grade level in reading. And did I mention how happy he is? Kids with ADHD know they are different from other kids and mine has struggled a lot with socialization and keeping friends. When he first started medicine he said he wished it would work 24 hours a day. It's scary to hear about possible long term consequences. But, I can tell you that my son's quality of life has improved so much now that he takes medicine and that is worth it for me. My son does struggle with some anxiety, opposition, and a lot of trouble with emotions. I have learned recently that this is called emotional disregulation and it very common with ADHD. We have recently started Vayarin, a prescription medical food, per my son's ADHD therapist. Her 10 year old takes it, in addition to Concerta and she said it really does help with his mood. I also highly recommend ADHD therapy. It helps my sons to learn and work on coping skills. And has helped a lot when problems crop up at school, because even on medication, things can and do still happen occasionally. Only you can decide what to do for your child and please don't listen to those with "normal" kids. They have no idea what it's like to have a special needs child. Our almost 6 year old seems to be a "normal" kid and he is so different from his brother. I hope all the advice on here is helping you. Best of luck!

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Ya it seems like the parents whose children don’t have these issues seem to be the loudest with their opinions. Thank you for your input!

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So to pile onto Sellers comments about not making it to finish highschool, my twin brother (now 40 years old) went through life undiagnosed...he was an academic scholar in the early years as many ADHD children are, even went to a gifted elementary and middle school separate from me because he was doing so well...then it happened, he couldn’t stay focused and keep the same structure on his own as he turned 12 and the school system tends to turn more into a self regulated study environment. He barely graduated highschool with a 2.0 and has had a life long struggle to keep a job, keep up with his finances etc. I wish for his sake that 1) he has been diagnosed early as my daughter has been and 2) that he had been medicated to learn what focus feels like.

I felt that medicating my daughter was the only way I could show her what it’s like to be able to focus and what it feels like to sit through a meal or a movie without the constant urge to move or fidget. She’s soooo much more aware of her surroundings and the others around her now. I’m so thankful we chose to medicate. She’s a better person for it.

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I feel bad for my son because I don’t really understand what he goes through everyday. And he doesn’t know any different. With the medication I feel he’ll have a real shot at being independent and productive. Do you have the school office give her the booster dose of medication?

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Yes, it has to be specific prescription from her primary care doctor to the school, for the school nurse to administer it with specific instructions on when. We are playing with the exact timing of the booster dose over the summer at home to find the most effective timing. If you give it to early, they get a little zoned out, if you give it too late, you don’t get any effect at all. The key is to catch it while the initial dose is still in her system but near the end of its effectiveness. Good luck!!

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Thank you!

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Hello,

It’s such a hard decision because it’s all trial by error until you find what is good for them and even then you’ll find just when you thought you found the right medication there are great effects and then some not so great side effects.

We tried the holistic approach for years (but not CBD) and all my 6 year old sons symptoms have increased as far as aggression and lashing out.

We are currently on Focalin (from what I’ve been told it’s the cleaner version of Ritalin) now it’s been 3 weeks and he’s doing better at school as far as attention span, his thought process is slower so he can rationalize things better but his aggression and outbursts are a bit more intense not as long lasting but more intense.

I feel for you, and your concerns, this is such a hard process constantly and I wish you the best of luck. I’m so glad I joined this sight just reading the stories helps me feel so not alone in this process. As I hope it does for you too.

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Thank you! This website has done wonders for my head. I feel like I relate to everyone here! It’s a nice feeling to know how many people are in the same boat :)

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