89 answers

My Son Was Diagnosed with ADHD, but I Won't Put Him on Medication

I have a 6 year old who was diagnosed with ADD. His biggest problem is that he can not focus/pay attention. The school has put him on an IEP plan and he attends a different class, because his inability to stay focused has hendered his ability learn. I know this is serious, but he is such a bright and articulate boy. His conversations are more advanced than his age of 6, and although he does not appear to be paying attention, when I ask him about his lessons he can tell me...

What do you think about the idea of medication? I really think with extra work, maybe tutoring and extra help he can get on the right track.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I can not Thank all of you who have taken time to give your opinions, advice and support. It helps to communicate with other mothers, and those who have gone through the same thing.

I have made an appointment with my sons physician, and we we will take things slowly by investigating the nutrition option and if we can not find a food trigger, she will then send us to a neurologist for medicine possibilities.

Again, all of your responses were incredible and thought provoking.

Featured Answers


I will be short, b/c I see all the answers you got. My son is borderline ADHD and I have changed his food. This has helped so much. It is night and day difference. I did a sensitivity test and that told me what my son is sensitive to and need to stay away from. Things that he is sensitive to affect his immune system which affects behavior and such. If you have any other questions please contact me. But I will never never give my son meds. Changing food and sometimes environment has made a world of difference. Hope this helps.

I didn't go the drug route with my son but definately should have. He struggled all thru school and his wonderful grades fell more each year. They can't "keep up" without an attention span. I'de go with the pills if I had to do it all over again.

I don't have personal experience with this. But I know that even with the medication you are going to have to work with him a lot. Give it a try, honor the opinion of the experts who have seen hundreds of kids. You'll know better then.

More Answers

Hi C.- I am a SAHM of 4 who used to be a teacher of children with behavioral problems. I want to start my advice with the fact that you know your son best and will surely make the right decision. I will point out one thing I would mention to parents I worked with when meds were mentioned by a doctor or anyone else- If your son does have ADD and his brain chemistry is slightly different than the "norm" then "Trying harder or working more" may not work- you wouldn't tell a diabetic to "try harder at controlling their insulin level". We tend to look at difficulties like ADD as a "behavioral problem" but in many cases it is a neaurological chemical problem. Educate yourself, talk to your doctor and keep taking care of your son!
Best of Luck

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 4 years old and currently attends preschool. He has been diagnosed with sensory issues & emerging ADHD. Our neuro has said he has learned to cope so well through occupational therapy (he has been going initially for his sensory & fine motor issues detected at 2.5 yrs old) she sees no need for meds. I have tried a brand name
multi-supplement suggested from several ADHD websites. It is called Pedi-Active. It helps with focus and attention. There are several other supplements out there, but I know this one contains DMAE which is a natural supplement that helps the brain focus and is used specifically for ADHD without side-effects. You can find it at Vitamin Shoppe in the children's section. Suggested usage is 2 chewables 2-3 times per day. I give it to him before school along with Nordic Naturals chewable omega fish oil capsules. I also give it to him a 2nd time during the day before high-activity situations that require focus like gymnastics. We also did organic/gluten-free/dairy-free diet for allergy issues but it seemed to help his processing issues as well. Good luck. There is a lot of good information to help you without turning to meds immediately. Sometimes it's the only way, but I would see it as a last resort only. -Judy

1 mom found this helpful


Hi my name is C. and I have a son that just turned 8 Aug 15th, Last year in second grade his teacher came to me and said she thought he had ADD ( not ADHD, no hyperness in him) ADD means that he takes in all the information, knows the answers, knows what he is doing, but cant filter the information out. They put in a different class what was for Math, and my son LOVED IT! it does help becasue they are gettnig more attention/help with the work.

Did you take him to teh Dr? did you fill out a questioner type form to have him evaluated I did him on Folcalin ( I think I spelled it right I can get the correct spelling later)Its capsul and I open it upa nd put in a spoon full of applesauce in the morning while he is eating breakfast/getting ready for school. this all happend late in the year, but his teacher said after a week he didnt say I fogot once. I didnt give it him over the summer and just started again. We will see how the year goes. The medication that I have him on is the same one the my dr and another dr in the same practice gave thier kids, so I felt comfortble giving it to him. One thing you have to remember is that if you put him on meds, it may not be for the rest of his life, somtimes after a year they are doing better and they dotn need the meds anymore, it all depends. sometimes its longer.

How is he at home? It was taking my son a long time to do a little home work, and if I didnt sit right there I would turn around and he would be away from the table. Sometimes he forgoet what I sent to get. ( like if I asked him t go upstairs and go in the dining room and get so and so, he would forget by the time he got there what he was supposed to get.

I know it is hard, you think what did I do wrong, he is bright and he knows this stuff. I thought everything under the sun. its nothing that we did and its fixable.

please email with any other questions you may have. If I think of anything more I will let you know. ____@____.com

Hope it helps, at least a little

I am a stay a home of tow boys 8 and 6 1/2 and 1 girl 2 1/2
I live in Downers Grove. Where are you located at?

1 mom found this helpful

I know there's an instant reaction for putting any kid diagnosed with ADD/ADHD on meds and it's not right for every situation.
I will tell you though, as someone who has ADHD that was never treated as a child (no one knew what it was - I was just the daydreaming kid; I was considered smart, but couldn't pull it together, etc.) it does a number on a person's self-esteem and social abilities.

If your son was near-sighted, you wouldn't tell him to "just squint harder!" - you'd get him glasses. Kind of the same with ADHD - it's not that we don't TRY and pay attention, we just can't stay focused, or if it's something we're really interested in we hyper-focuse and can't break away!
Please don't discount medication if changes in diet/exercise don't work.
As a side note, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has ADD and there's some interesting articles on how it made him the swimmer he is today - it's not the worst thing to be diagnosed with. In fact, the artist DaVinci and Thomas Edison were probably ADD/ADHD - good books about them out there!
Good luck! Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have.


1 mom found this helpful

If your son is already in a special education class, it sounds like a lot more than teachers who aren't accommodating of high-energy kids (which it sounds like some of the other posters are imagining.) I know quite a few ADHD kids and none of them aren't in a mainstream class unless there's something else going on. So my first question is about the appropriateness of the diagnosis, or if there is something else going on. (not my business, so not literally a question, but the question that came to mind on reading your post.)

I am definitely a fan of finding out as much as you can and informing yourselves. I believe that nutrition makes a difference, and I also saw from experience that occupational therapy can be very helpful for some kids. I think you should absolutely try and keep trying different things and keep learning.

But I also avoided medication for my son for almost three years and when we finally decided to try a stimulant medication, it was amazing. He has always been very smart but for the first time he could focus enough for his brightness to really get a hook on subjects. He went to the top of his class.

Anyway, your experience will be your experience, but I felt pretty guilty when I realized how much harder we had been making our kid work. I remember a conference right before we decided to experiment with medication where I asked his teacher, "Wow, if he's doing this well without paying any attention, how well would he be doing if he could listen for more than two minutes in a row?"

The stimulant medications used for ADHD treatment are not something to be taken lightly, but they are among the safest, longest-used drugs we have for children and used by millions of kids for many decades. Also, they do not accumulate in your child's system and they don't need to be taken for days or weeks to test - you can pretty much tell if they're going to work within a day or a week, and you can stop anytime. Keep up the great work of looking at options - it took me years to give it a try - but trying a safe, prescribed, well-tested medication is not like some sort of test of character. Seriously. You can try it and stop it. It's not like a road you cannot go back from.

Speaking for myself, I really felt that after trying other things I owed it to my son to try this. He is the one who will have to live with the long-term consequences of sitting in classrooms, not learning to his capabilities, and being looked down on by his peers.

We continue to work on other behavioral supports and therapies (he had a medicine holiday all summer, too) but from my point of view, it's ethically and morally wrong for a parent to just shut the door on any medically valid approach because of prejudice or dogma, without understanding and seriously taking it into consideration. [not that you are doing that - just responding to others you are sure to run into who will attack you about it if you make another choice]

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

I will start by saying that ADD/ADHD is an abnormal brain function and I beleive that extra help/tutoring will not help. And each grade in school only gets harder.

I can relate to you not wanting to medicate your son. My husband was the same way when our son was diagnosed with ADHD. But I look a it this way, if he were diabetic and needed insulin I sure would give it to him. We decided that just because we had reservations about medications why should we harm our child by NOT giving him meds and the opportunity to develop socially and acedmicaly as other kids his age. It was a hard decision but was best for him in the long run.

Everyone will tell you that the schools job us to help with an IEP plan but that isn't always the case. May son has an IEP for the ADHD as well as some learning disabilities. We were forever getting calls from the teacher regarding her dificulty in teaching him and how he needs to listen better, he's not following directions. His main problem, not the ADHD which was controlled by meds, was that he has some processing of verbal commands issues. He cannot handle more than 2 comands at a time. I was forever reminding the teacher of his IEP, even though she was in all the quartly evaluation meetings. It seems it was just easier for her to not deal with it. Also if there was a day that we forgot his medicine (it happens- mornings can be hectic) she would call me and complain about him. It's not HIS fault he is the way he is.

Please consider medication for his benefit. And not all meds are the same for everyone. We went thru 3 different ones until we found one that works. Just because some people give up after a few trys and lump them all together as "none of them work" is not the case. Its just a matter of findng the right one.

As a side note my daughter was diagnosed with ADD in 3rd grade. The first drug we tried proved to work for her. Shs is now in highschool and has been off the meds for 4 years. She has to work a little harder and sometimes we have to steer her back to the right direction (focus) she's doing great off of it. So it's not always forever.

My feeling ~ give your son a fighting chance to do well in school.

Good luck and feel free to PM me if you need more info.

***added to original post*****

Another thought is caffeine. ADD/ADHD brains work different from others. The medicine is a stimulant (as so politley pointed out by another poster) which is why it's a tightly controlled medicine. For someone who does NOT have ADD/ADHD it will act as speed for them. For a patient with ADD/ADHD it has the opposite effect. The stimulation is what is needed for the brain to work properly. This is where the caffeine comes into play. Our doctor advised giving caffinated drinks when an extra ummphh is needed. Where you and I would be bouncing off the walls, it settles down an ADD/ADHD person.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

I work in the special education world as a parent consultant and often have Moms ask my opinion on this topic. Here goes:

1. Tutoring is not really an answer for ADHD. More successful help is usually in the form of a great social worker who can teach your son strategies for coping in different environments when his body is "off".

2. Most parents who do not go the medicine route are willing to try a diet change. The most effective things that people have shared: Organic choices, NO artificial dyes, NO artificial sugars (including splenda), extremely limited processed and/or restaurant food. Some changes you may see right away, some may take a few weeks. (I have experience with my own kids and using diet for medical reasons...completely possible!)

3. The next step after diet, if the parent doesn't feel a significant change is usually supplements. If you run to Whole Foods or For the Good of It (Joliet), they both will have children remedies for focus and attention. I hear great stories from my clients.

4. ADHD is also recognized by many as a nervous system/sensory issue which is commonly corrected with chiropractic care. You can email me away from the board if you would like the name/number of one that will do the initial eval/x-ray of your son for free and give an excellent manageable treatment plan in the Naperville & Romeoville areas.

Best Wishes,

1 mom found this helpful

I have ADHD and have since I was a child. I tried medication as an adult and I can tell you that after experiencing it myself I would never put my children on them. I tried 3 of the most popular drugs and all of them had horrible side effects.

Even before my diagnosis, my mom could tell that nutrition made a huge difference in my behavior. I follow a strict diet (and follow the same for my children) that's really what everyone should follow, it's just more important for people with chemical imbalance. I do not use refined sugar and gluten and I keep dairy to as minimal as possible. The more natural, the better. If my body has to take extra energy to work through processed food, the connection to my brain just seems to come undone. I take Omega 3s in addition to eating as many vegetables as possible with a serving of protein with each meal.

Exercise is probably the thing that has helped me the most. As long as I keep active, I can stay much more on focus. I spent most of college studying while on the Stairmaster, because if my body was working, my mind would work better. There have been a few programs (one was in Naperville Schools) that used physical activity before class and the kids with ADHD had great improvement in test results and grades. My oldest child hasn't been diagnosed with ADHD, but definitely has a lot of energy. I have him start his day with exercise and it seems to get him on track.

I am so grateful that I wasn't medicated as a child (luckily, I was before the time of the over-medicating epidemic). I do not look at ADHD as a disability, but part of my personality. With hard work I was able to graduate from University of Illinois in Champaign and now own 2 businesses. I'm sure I was not my grade-school teachers favorite student, but quite frankly, I was usually bored. Those teachers who took the time to engage me got great results. When I look back I see that it wasn't necessarily extra attention or tutoring that helped, but finding a way to apply the information to something I cared about.

I applaud you for not just jumping into the "easy way out" and medicating without trying other options. If you choose to try the natural route, it will take a lot of work and you will have to stay on track for it to work. There are lots of very successful people who have ADD and ADHD and may not be as successful as they are if they didn't. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

i am a former special ed. teacher who has chosen to stay home with my girls for afew years. ( so i have some experience in this area) i think you need to be very careful about medicating a child that young. who diagnosed him with adhd and what was used to diagnose him? for some children meds. are a miracle and school life is so much easier with them but, i think that we are turning to meds. too quickly. it is a hard situation but, you know your child better than anyone. educate yourself on medication, adhd strategies, diet's role in attention and your rights as a parent of a child with an iep. find a doctor who treats adhd without meds. just to give you that other point of view. i am not against medication because i have seen it do wonders but it is not always the answer, especially at such a young age. if you have any other questions feel free to send me an email. best of luck. trust your instincts.

1 mom found this helpful

This is totally your decision. Only you and your family can decide what is best. As a mom, I would definitely think hard and look at all of my options regarding medication for ADHD. As a teacher, I've seen many students greatly benefit from medication for ADHD, but the students I am thinking of could not pay attention in class and they could not tell you what was going on. Their grades reflected this. Once they went on medication it was a complete change which even they noticed. Two students even told me how much happier they were since they could concentrate! So I guess I'm saying that you should look at your son and reflect upon his daily experiences. Is ADHD interfering with his daily life, with school? If not then there are certainly other ways to monitor behavior and help your son.

I would not go the drug route. You are changing the chemical balance of his body which could lead to problems in the future.

Without knowing your son, it sounds to me like he is a really smart kid who is bored with the level of teaching at his school. Of course the teachers would deny this because it reflects on their teaching ability. Also without knowing your kid's teachers, I can tell you that you don't have to be smart to become one! All you need to do is graduate in education, be willing to not get paid enough for your time and then get hired. Many teachers that I have met went into education to have their summers off ie: reasons other than the love of learning and teaching.

Part of the problem may also be the No Child Left Behind Legislation which mandates that the kids that need help the most(read: not as smart) are the kids that get the most attention. Federal funding to schools is based on the test scores of the individual school. What happens is that smart kids like ours don't get the mental stimulation that they need to keep them interested because the teachers are working with the slower learners.

Does your son's teacher differentiate in the classroom? Most don't. It is too much work for them. (Look up differentiation...You'll fall in love with this type of teaching.)

Have you looked into other school situations that offer a faster learning pace and a wider variety of subjects? Northwestern University offers The Saturday Enrichment Program. There are many options out there.

Go online and see what you could find.

If you box him into a label this early in life based on a bunch of teachers not being able to get him to do things the way they see fit, you may be squashing his true potential.

There is help out there for you and your family. All of this is time well spent...you may have this issue with your other kids too!

Good Luck and don't give up!

I would like to help you in any way I can. First, I want to share a testimonial of what helped someone else:

"I recently joined Shaklee to help my 7 y/o get off medication he was taking for his depression, ADHD, and ODD. I wanted to start him on a good program of supplements. Shaklee has helped tremendously! We still have our days, but he's doing much better. We're working with the psychiatrist to taper off his medication. I listened to tapes on the effects of chemicals on children. I'm talking about things you use everyday. For example: when an open cleaning product container is in the same room with a "normal" child, the child can show false symptoms or exaggerated symptoms of dyslexia, ADHD, ODD, allergies, sicknesses, etc. When the chemical was taken out of the picture, the child was able to function "normally" again! Our little ones are bombarded by these chemicals on a daily basis. In schools they use VERY harsh chemicals. In your homes, laundry soap stays in the fabric and can cause reactions. Cleaning chemicals under the sink release fumes. There are chemicals on and in our foods, the list goes on and on. I wanted to remove as much bad stuff as possible from my son's environment. We went completely Shaklee for home care and laundry and noticed a BIG difference! After we cleared out the chemicals and started to clean and launder in Shaklee, a rash on his face disappeared, all of our sinus infections cleared up, my huband now comments on the smell of homemade bread, and, best of all, my son has calmed down a great deal. After getting rid of the chemicals in our home, my son became uncontrollable after walking past the grocery store cleaning aisle one day." -Catrina Larsen-

This is what I do full-time....spread the word. I'm currently working on some projects to get these chemicals out of schools and daycares. I would love to talk with you more on this issue and how we might be able to help you or anyone else who is interested. Also, I commend you greatly for not accepting the norm of putting him on medication immediately. I agree with previous posters that more natural solutions should be tried first. Email me at: ____@____.com or call me at ###-###-####.
IM: healthygreenliving (yahoo)


Good for you! I believe we're too quick to medicate kids these days.
This may seem a little simple, but it is possible that he's just not being challenged enough? This sounds like what I was like in grade school, and it's because I was completely BORED. Back then of course, we didn't have IEPs and special needs, so my mom just gave me my older brothers work to do in class. It worked for a while, until the teachers found out :)
I really don't think your son needs to be medicated if he can sit and follow the class. Talk with the teachers and/or school psychologist about an alternative plan. Good luck!

I think you know your son best. If you want meds do it if not DON't! RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!! Trust YOUR instincts! They are reasons for and against meds...

Many people believe if you try changing your diet it helps TREMENDOUSLY! Now that requires some work because frankly the school lunches tend to be over processed foods. But it sure is a lot easier than packing a lunch!!

I don't know if you tried this yet but I would consider looking into a minimally processed and possibly organic diet.

Good luck and I hope you get the results you need! :0)

We went along time without meds. He is ten, and a handful even on meds. I'd try "Attentive Child" first through the GNC store. Also read if you can find it (not in print anymore, but still a few out there in the used book through the internet) "How to Feed Your Hyper Active Child."
I did a ton of research on ADHD, and it can also be a reaction to something they are eating. Instead of breaking out, they become hyper.

When homework comes home, if you fold the paper in half or quarters, it takes the intensity away. I also take a bookmark and use it for reading, and it works. We also set the timer on the microwave for how long it should take to get homework done - that works great.

Kids with ADHD can have several thoughs running through their mind, it is like when you go to a movie you really don't want to see, but you were dragged there anyways. You think about what you could be doing at home, what housework you forgot to do, and what bills go out at the end of the week. All at the same time. That is what they are like during class. What toys to play with what game is coming out next week, what is Mom/Dad making for dinner (and do I hav to eat it), what will Mom/Dad say if my room is not clean, etc. Meds slow down that to where they think slower so they can concentrate on one thing at a time like the rest of us are suppose to.

My son has ADHD mixed with Asperger's Syndorme, but this kid is the most hyper thing ever...

Medication went into the picture when the stress from the school became insanely higher and when Joshua was totally uncontrollable. We waited until he was 10. We thought he would out grow it. He didn't. Joshua is also in a different class too. Whatever gets Joshua to do what he is suppose to do in school I am game. I also homechool for summer. We work on spelling, and reading, those are the subjects he has issues with.

Personally, I think we all have ADHD to an extent. My question for school is, what did you do with our class, the undiagnosed group? How is it you can handle us but not our kids? - Yeah, I am not popular through them... LOL

I do not have first hand experience with a child that has ADHD but I just read a very interesting book called Nation of Wimps.....it discusses the benefits of regular, periodic bouts of physical activity as a useful treatment for ADHD ( among other things). It cites useful sources and talks about the detrimental effect that the removal of daily PE & recess has on our kids ( and boys in particular). You might find it useful since you are looking for alternatives to medication. Good luck

I agree with you! While I'm not a doctor, it seems terrible to be medicating children for these unclear physical/emotional/cognitive/psychosocial "problems" that get labeled ADD when children are acting out their distress. I did notice you have a stepson - so I'm wondering if there are some family/emotional issues going on for your son. I am personally in a divorce so I am not judging - I'm just trying to be helpful to help you get to the root of the problem. I think the best solution is to determine the root of the problem and fix it (work on it), rather than medicate the symptom and ignore the cause. Maybe your son needs extra time, love and attention at home. I notice some of the moms who write about their children who have ADD are single Moms (like me) whose children have experienced a lot of trauma and whose parents have little time (like myself) because of their own struggles. Another thing to look into could be Learning Disabilities...

i saw one other post about this but thought i'd post anyway... try taking him for an eye exam. i recently took my kindergarten child for one and the dr. mentioned that he feels that over 50% of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD don't really have the syndrome but have a vision problem.
when the eyes don't focus on something together, like they should, the child gets frustrated and doesn't want to do it.....which can show as a short attention span.
i went to dr. lederer in arlington heights - he was wonderful!

My son was diagnosed in 1st grade. He could not focus or sit in his chair. The teacher said he was crawling on the ground when she was trying to teach. I knew he was bright and I didn't want him in remedial classes that he didn't belond in. I also didn't want him singled out by the other kids. After many tears and lots of research I put him on medication. While I would rather he wasn't on medicine, I know that it's the best thing for him. He is now starting 7th grade and he is in honors classes. Even with taking medicine he still needed extra help with certain things early on. I worked one on one with every teacher he had in elementary school. We made plans each year on what worked for my son. We also used a daily report card, which was fantastic. I know I made the right decision for my son. Good luck!


Hi - I have a few suggestions...
Find out (and make sure your son's school has found out) about differentiated instruction (teaching techniques that allow for various readiness levels, interests, and learning styles within the same classroom). Here's one article (but there are tons out there) - http://www.ascd.org/ed_topics/cu2000win_willis.html - and
Carol Ann Tomlinson is a leader in D.I. techniques: http://www.caroltomlinson.com/

Also - educate yourself about laws regarding inclusion, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), and your role in shaping the IEP (and deciding whether or not he even has an IEP). Sometimes schools do not make families fully aware of their options and rights, and sometimes they make choices based on what is more convenient for them in "dealing" with the child, rather than on what is ultimately best for the child. Often schools do this with good intentions but do not themselves have the knowledge or wherewithall to address special needs in an appropriate way. Project Choices is a great resource for schools and parents in Illinois - here is info about their conference in Jan: http://www.projectchoices.org/EventsConferences.aspx

I agree with your instinct to be wary of meds, especially at his age. I also second the idea that looking into diet and alternative therapies (acupuncture, chiropractic) is probably wise. Here is a list of good people to help in these areas --- http://andersonvillewellness.com/

Good luck!

Hi C.,
This might seem a bit out there, but I would consider his diet. I thought my son was eating really well but then when I looked more closely he was eating alot of fruit (which is sugar) and breads and carbs (which is yeast). Alot of the aliments we get are a direct result of the state of our digestive system. I have changed my son's diet and have seen amazing results. We still do therapy, but I don't believe therapy in and of itself will change him. We have been doing the body ecology diet for the last month and have made great progress. I'd say even if you just introduce a pro-biotic into your son's system it would help. And yeah in my opinion I'd keep away from the meds. I believe that would just add more problems. I hope that helps. www.bodyecology.com

Hi C.,
I can so relate! Both my sons (now ages 10 and 7) have ADHD.
I felt the same way about the medication, and tried just
about everything (special school interventions...buzzers,
timers, etc), restricting diet, vitamins, etc. When none
of that seemed to help, we did go with the medication. This
can often be a trial and error process as there are so many
different kinds and doses. Eventually, we found the right
medication (different for each of them). My boys are both thriving in school, sports, etc.
The medication is not a "magic bullet", but it does help
them both so much.

Bottom line...your son is only six. Make sure you talk to the
school and see what they can suggest to help in the classroom
first. I do agree that medication should never be the first
thing you try!

Good luck! Just look at Michael Phelps, adhd can be managed
and kids can succeed despite the challenges it poses.

Was your son diagnosed by the school? If so, keep in mind that the school doesn't have the ability to give a medical diagnosis. What they are trying to determine is what services he is eligible for.

If the school is suggesting meds, take that suggestion with a grain of salt. Chances are, the person suggesting it to you does not have a medical degree. You know your child better than anyone. Trust your gut, and discuss the matter with a qualified doctor.

My son was "diagnosed" by the school as having ADHD. The school pushed very hard for us to medicate him. I never believed he had ADHD. In fact, the school tested him, and had to admit that he tested out as not having it. But they insisted they were "sure" he had it. They were pretty convicing too. They were wrong.

There are other things that can exhibit ADHD-like symptoms. You might want to talk to a pediatric psychiatrist, a pediatric psychologist (they don't prescribe meds), or a pediatric neurologist, etc. If it truly is ADHD, they will help you to determine if meds are right for you, and if so, which ones. Not all meds are stimulants. There are meds that are stimulant-free, but they may have more side effects in some children. Some doctors advocate diet changes instead. Some advocate things like occupational therapy as opposed to pharmaceuticals.

But if you don't have a MEDICAL diagnosis of ADHD, get to a doctor. One you trust.

My suggestion would to get him OT and some therapy and make sure it is not a sensory integration problem there are many types now of sensory issues and they are beign linked to addhd add etc. When you get the sesonry motiltiy inline theaddha calms down. hope this helps and makes you feel better about not medication right away!


I am a martial arts instructor and I have had a few students with parents that did not want their kids medicated. I totally understand where you're coming from. As a parent I would try different alternatives first before medicating my children. This advice is not coming from self promotion of the martial arts but from everyday experiences. I have had a few parents say that putting their children in the martial arts have greatly helped control their children's attention deficiency. Provided you pick a good school with instructors that have the patience and dedication to helping your child. It would also be helpful to be upfront with your childs issues when starting any program. If you need more information about the martial arts please feel free to send me a message. I can help you find a good school in your area and help you with questions you can ask to help you find a suitable school for your child. Just remember you are not alone and you will find a good way to handle this.

If your son has any other disorder that severly hampered him in any other way, would you not do everything that you could to help him out? My son was in 1st grade when he got diagnosed. The absolutely best thing for him was medication. His first day on medication was on a Saturday. He was on a park district basketball team. That was the first time we ever saw him pay any attention to the game or practice! We were so excited. My son is not a sophomore in high school and is still medicated. If he forgets his medication I can tell within 5 minutes of him being home. He decided on his own last year that he wanted to try to handle school without medication. It was a total failure! Medication does not always work, and you can't only do medication. Keep on track of the IEP - make sure you are always in contact with this resource teacher and all other teachers, and other school administration. ADHD is not something that goes away.

The most interesting thing my son told me about ADHD and medication was that when he doesn't take his medication he feels that his brain is out of control and he feels like the world is spinning out of control.

Please do yourself and your son a huge favor and talk to a doctor about medication. It might not be the answer, or it might be just a piece of the puzzle! It's truly the best thing I did for my son.

C., I'm with you! No meds! It may calm certain children down, but it cannot be good for them in the long run! Are there studies done about heart conditions in children on long term speed? I'll admit that my children don't have add or adhd, but with my children, I always try to do research before putting my kids on any type of meds. I would totatly work on self esteem with your child, triggers, and behavior! Any special ed teacher, or social worker knows, that ultimitaly your child is responsible for his/her own behavior. Is school more difficult for some? Absolutely, but I've found in my son's friend who have add/adhad ( there are 2 of them ) that they are the most socially able kids I've ever met! Which to me, is just as important as getting the grade! Nurture what they're good at! I think making the right choices in friends is an awesome personality trait! What can your children focus on? NURTURE IT! Sorry to all the teacher's out there that don't know how to handle these kids! Don't let the schools talk you into anything you don't want to do! In the public schools, it's their job to help your child succeed acedemically. Good Luck!

I used to be a 4th grade teacher and I had a few students with ADHD. I saw what a drastic change medication can do to improve the child's life. It does not only affect the child's ability to learn but also the social relationships with other children. No one wants to play with the student that is constantly getting into trouble because he can't focus. I don't know your child but I would seriously consider putting him on medication at least during school hours. As he gets older, it will definitely help with friendships which will affect his self-esteem.

We have a now 12 year old that was diagnosed with ADHD while in Kindergarten. She is also on an IEP plan but hers keeps her in the regular classes with the other kids except for a one hour time slot each day when she receives one-on-one attention from a special ed teacher to try to help her with the work she may not have been able to focus on in class that day. We originally tried medicines since the school really encouraged us to do soemthing. None seemed to work for her and the side effects were terrible for her. Also, we read a lot about the long term side effects from these medicines and felt uncomfortable with those. We also read that even using ADHD meds should always be coupled with behavior modifications / tools to help the child cope with breaking down the information so there is not the overload that can occur and so the child can learn to focus on one task at a time and complete each task. We are happy with our choice not to use medicine and each year we see improvement. Good luck!

My youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5 and we've tried Stratterra and Focalin. Both meds worked but both made him extremely depressed and weepy when they would wear off. And he was just Too Calm. I also felt I was medicating him for the Teacher's sake and not for his own well-being

Last year, in his kindergarten year he got suspended 4 times for behavior (flipping during quiet times, running in the halls) but they also found that he was reading at a 1st grade level. He, too, is very articulate and bright (we call him a "stubborn old man")

The teacher would let him go to the 1st grade class for the reading portion of the day and he would never have behavior problems in the 1st grade class...only when he got back to his kindergarten class.

To me that was confirmation that my child was just not being challenged enough in the classroom.

My son is in the 1st grade now (6 yo)in a new school with a more accelerated curriculum and Tons of structure and routine and a Lot of Work. They also make sure they get outside to release energy and get some air. He is not on medication and he still has problems with fidgiting and being still in the hallways but his teacher is very resourceful and creative and has been able to keep him under control and engaged in her classroom.

As he gets older he's maturing and now, Naturally learning how to control his behavior...just like we did when we were kids.

Medication will help but so will time and effort and love.

About Me: Single FT Working Mom, 31, 2 sons 10 and 6

Well I'm a teacher of 6 year olds so I can give you what I've learned from my experience with them.

Often ADD is misdiagnosed and could be cured by simply challenging the kid and giving him difficult stuff to do. ADD kids are often really smart like how you're describing your son. Sometimes they're labeled ADD when the fact is they're just bored and unchallenged so of course they're unfocused. First make sure he's being challenged.

Also, random old-fashioned home remedy-- make sure he's getting tons of exercise. It's easier to focus when you're not fidgety with extra energy lying around. The main problem with this here though is that it's hard to get all that energy out in a long day of school with only one recess. But if he acts differently at school from at home this could be one reason.

Also, try a punishment/rewards system by which if he behaves and/or learns properly each day you give him a star on a chart which can eventually add up to equal candy or something else he'd want, and if he's inattentive one day you can take something away from him. If he's misdiagnosed then this system should work.

But if it's REALLY correctly diagnosed ADD or ADHD, those methods will all fall short and medication will be necessary because nothing you can do can balance a chemical imbalance except other chemicals that counter it. i must say I have some 6 year olds who clearly need the meds and when they're not medicated they are absolutely a headache to teach and worst of all they distract the other students in the class which is twice as frustrating. Like you though, I hate medication and would exhaust all other methods before I'd employ it.

I have heard that some meds like the popular Riddlin (sp?) ONLY work if there IS a chemical imbalance and that's part of the way they diagnose if that's really what the child has or if it's something else (like they're just a squirmy kid!). Worth looking into.

there are some all natural suggestions at www.earthclinic.com/CURES/adhd.html

Dear C. G,

I have a son who was diagnosed with ADHD at 8-years old. When diagnosed, he had a conversation level of a 9th grader. He will be 27-years old next month and because he won’t admit he has a disorder and take medication; his life is in total disarray. My heart is very sorrowful for my son.
Initially, when he was diagnosed, I too opted against medication. Finally, after 3 or so year’s of tutors, family counseling, individual counseling, special classes and various schools, I was exhausted and started him on the medication. He took the medication for approximately 1-year or so and actually began making progress. Some kids at his school found out that he and some other boys were being called away from class daily to get their meds from the school nurse and began poking fun at them. He quit his medication due to peer pressure and his life took a serious turn for the worse.
I strongly recommend medication for children and adults with ADHD/ADD/LD& BD. These are all disorders and should be treated as such. The ultimate decision is yours and I hope your outcome is better than mine.
Perhaps you can get additional information on medication and side effects by contacting the ADHD Hotline at 1-800- ###-###-####.
Best wishes,
L. W
Dolton, IL

I have a daughter that was diagnosed with Autism at 4YO. She too is extremely bright. Drs also recommended meds however I'm not a big fan of just throwing meds at everything without looking for an underlying cause. Don't get me wrong, I think that meds have their time & place. I researched, researched then researched some more as to possible causes. Pieces to her puzzle started coming together when I found info on findings of common medical issues in children (they say over 80%) that have autism and or ADHD -the most common being; allergies, digestive issues and thyroid dysfunction. We changed diet, cleaned up her tummy and identified a thyroid dysfunction - she is an entirely different child. Many say these approaches are controversial but all I know is I have experienced it first hand – she is socially well adjusted – in fact she is usually the leader of a group, she is happy, healthy and thriving in school - NO MORE IEP! I have also seen a friend’s child go from totally non verbal at 4yo to singing and laughing within 2 weeks of changing his diet.

Just wanted to offer our experience for you to consider!

Good luck!

Hi C.,

My experience with ADD has been from a slightly different perspective as a teacher, not a parent. I would agree with several others that extra help, tutoring and work on the part of your son or yourself will not work.

Beyond that, there have been several good suggestions for ways to help your son manage his ADD. After some research, try what feels right to you. I do have a friend whose son has greatly benefited from medicine in the form of a patch that can be applied in the morning and removed as soon as he's home from school. This effectively removes the medicine from his bloodstream almost immediately. Just one more thing to consider, I suppose.

Regardless of how you choose to treat your son, please work with his teachers and the other professionals at his school. They are there to help him and can be most effective when they know about him. They can also be helpful to you in finding successful treatment by reporting changes, positive or negative, in his ability to focus, etc. With their help you will be able to more easily figure out a new diet, medicine level, or something else that will work for your son. Being "labeled" is not a bad thing. The more a teacher knows about any child, ADD or not, the more she can do to help them learn. The only thing any label does is indicate to the teacher that the child may need some specific type extra attention from her in order to do his or her best.

Despite what some people have suggested, there is no wrong answer here. You know your son best and ultimately you will find the treatment that is right for him. I wish you good luck and a short journey.

I have seen many people help their ADHD children with Shaklee supplements, diet changes and getting chemicals out of the home. It requires changes for the whole family and is frankly lots of work and a big commitment. I have never met anyone who took the natural approach and stuck with it who regretted taking that route. I do, however, have friends who took the drug approach who if they had the opportunity to do it over again would try a different approach. Drugs help the symptoms but don't address the underlying issues. Nutritional deficiencies can cause a host of health issues. I would be happy to send you some information on what nutrients are beneficial for the brain if you are interested.

I think if you are wanting to try to help your son without medication, you should definitely try it. There are plenty of ways you can help your son, but they may take some work. I know that eliminating refined processed foods and sugars tends to help a great deal in kids with ADD or ADHD. Try incorporating whole grain foods and a lot less sugar and see if you notice a difference.

You can always resort to meds at a later time if you think it is necessary. Also, I would suggest consulting with your neighborhood health food store or something comparable. They will have something that will be able to help your son that you can use in conjunction with a healthy eating lifestyle.

Good luck to you.

C., in looking into causes for my son's eczema, I read a lot of testamonials from parents of children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD who had success by changing their children's diet. Is This Your Child by Dr. Doris Rapp is all about what she considers "hidden allergies". It might be worth a shot if you want to avoid medication. Good luck.

Wow! People sure are pationate about this issue! I'm a school psychologist, so I work with lots of kids with ADHD, with and without meds. What I've learned is that the need for meds really depends on the child. Have they tried other accomodations/interventions at school? If not, if I were you, I would want them to try other things before meds. If so, and if he's still struggling, meds may help. If you and your doctor decide you want to try them out, I would suggest making sure they are taking data on the effectiveness of them at school. The teacher could take data before meds and after on his on task behavior (to see if there was a difference)- the school psych/social worker could also help with this. With data, you'd be able to make sure that the meds are effective and that he's got the right dosage (you could share the data with your dr.). They could also complete rating scales- your psych/social worker can help with that- but because they're based just on teacher perception, I would suggest observational data as well. I also agree with the person who suggested the school doing a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and developing a behavior intervention plan (BIP), if they haven't already with the IEP. It would be another way of collecting data and developing a plan before trying meds. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the IEP process, etc. Good luck!

Hi C.,

I was in the same boat, I have a daughter that is now 8 and she as ADHD as well the only thing that helped her is medication. I also did not want to put her on meds. It has helped her alot she is a very smart little girl as well, she is doing well in school she pays more attention and it helps her get her homework done in a decent time. Before the meds it would take her hours to do it. She is on vyvanse she was on adderall first never on ritalyan!!
I also have two daughters on IEP (they are twins, born 3 months early my only 2 children.)

Good Luck!!!


My husband's cousin has a son with this issue. Great kid, really bright, but can't focus. She did not want to put him on meds. She is using fish oil and says it is amazing!! It does take some time to work (a few weeks, but I know many depression drugs take that long to work into your system so it is probably the same idea, need to build up the right amount slowly) She was also using Monavie (it is a specail juice Monavie.com) the point is diet effects these kids and can really help them. I know that there are websites about it and that she orders her fish oil online because it is cheaper. She says that it is amazing and after using it for a few weeks and the effects starting his teachers thought she put him on meds.

Homeschooling can be overwhelming or impossible for some, but someone mentioned Montessori...I wish our public school system would learn to embrace other types of educational environments. It is so true that MANY kids can focus but are not suited for a classroom where they have to sit all day or are forced to work at the level of others. Can go to the bathroom at only certain times and have to ask to leave their seats. Think about it, most adults have the ability to at least take a bathroom break when they need to or stand up and stretch without someone telling them they have attention problems when they are at their jobs. A child desires and deserves the same freedoms but our education system and most public classrooms is not set up for independence of thought or self control like that. Many children who can't focus have problems because they are bored in class. In a situation where your child is learning at his level and free to get up and stretch when he needs too might help. If you have the means and opportunity, I would look into a Montessori.

Hi C.,

My oldest Son was diagnosed with ADD at an early age. He didn't like taking his medicine but we did put him on several types at different times. We also took him off the meds every summer. He was and is very smart. Someone once said he has a magnetic personality that draws people to him. We later discovered that he is an oral type of learner. Can listen to a lecture in class and ace a test. Didn't do too good with homework cause most of the time he chose not to do it. A+ on tests and F on homework. When he went through puberty, much of it supressed. He quit his meds and while we see him often seem unfocused he has made honors in high school and Dean's list in college. I had to change my way of thinking and did some research on ADD so I would know how to "motivate him" that often changed but I had to be on top of things quite a lot. It took committment but as you can see, it was well worth it!! Good Luck!

Hello C.

I have 4 sons, 1 is ADHD, 2 are ADD. I have 2 of them on meds because they do help out. My 17 year old was put on meds last year and for the first time ever, made the A/B honor roll! I feel that if my boys were diabetic, I would put them on insulin if they need it, why not meds for ADD/ADHD?? I feel that our 17 year old should have been on meds sooner, and that is my fault for not, but now that he is on it, he sees the improvements!

Good Luck and God's Blessings to you

Hi C.,

Wow.. there is a lot of people with thoughts and concerns on this. Well, here is my story...

My daughter is now 12. We have done everything under the book. Tried meds, took her off meds, let her do things her way, took things away because she was not doing what she was told to do and the list goes on.

So now, we have her on this med which is called Addreall XR 25 mg daily. She takes it when she gets up everyday. She also see a physologist every three weeks or so. That gives her a chance to vent to someone outside the loop. She really likes going to this person. This Doc. is great.. I receommend her to anyone.

Once we started this, she is really changed. She does what she is told to. But, since this is the first week of school, we will see how she does.

My daughter is really smart, beautiful and has lots of friends.

Good luck with this!

Hi C.!

One of the best things you can do is as much research on ADD as possible: read books, check the internet, talk with other mothers (as you are doing), the implementer/s of the IEP and also your doctor. I think you are right not to be too hasty with the medications but at the same time if this begins to or is effecting his school/learning he may begin to dislike school and tune it out completely.....you may also have to try several things that work best for your child. Sometimes a complete diet change helps. Good luck

K. (spec. ed teacher)

My children have not been diagnosed with this, but we have had problems in the past. I have been an advicate against medicating at most any level. I do not use any even otc meds unless absolutely needing them. We use homeopathy and nutrition including supplements. I have tried a lot of things and recently found a wonderful supplement that we got a range of amazing results with. I have heard that many children with add/addhd through autisium have had wonderful results with these products. You are more than welcome to contact me if you would like to talk to someone with results that can connect with you. I think your insticts are correct, do what you can to protect your child. Good Luck! G. Chambers

Dear C.,
About 3.5 years ago I became a distributor for a nutrition products company, Reliv International.
Although I no longer sell, I do take the products and heard many stories of how balanced nutrition seem to help a lot of things including children with ADHD. I don't know how this happens, but it does. If you would like more information, you can check out the web site or I can put you in contact with someone who can connect you with other moms with ADHD children. It is a multi level marketing company, that is the one thing I didn't like, but the products are excellent, and I have my own health issues to indicate improvements. Of course, no one would say that this corrects these things, but I'd sure check it out if were you. You are welcome to contact me directly at
Good luck.

Have his eyes checked by a pediatric optometrist. That sounds crazy to start with, but I was sitting in an office waiting for my son who was diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type - he's now 7) and I found out that a lot of the things they do in the test are visual. Something like 4 or 5 of the markers are visual. My son is also articulate and funny, but blind as a bat apparently. He's farsighted so all the stuff they put on the table in front of him last year in kindergarten, he couldn't see.

With that said, along with diet modification, tutoring, and medication we were able to get kind of caught up this summer. The medication my son absolutely needs or he is a social misfit. I hope to be able to take him off the medication at sometime in the future (he's taking Concerta) but for right now, I'm treating it like he has diabetes or some other chronic medical condition that needs medication, love, attention, and everything else you need to grow little boys into wonderful men.

And as for how my son feels about taking medication...he said that it's less foggy in his head when he takes the medicine and he likes it better that way. Hope that helps. Good luck
and I my hope for a short journey for you on this particular road.

My stepson (who I always refer to as DS) came to live with us when he was 4 (he's 9 now) because his mother could not control him. We immediately had him evaluated. At that time, it was too early for an ADHD diagnosis. But, as a PP suggested, he did have sensory processing issues. We also had him allergy tested right off the bat...no food allergies. He was later officially diagnosed ADHD. He has an IEP and really struggles at school. He actually has his own personal aid who sits next to him in the classroom (Way to Go, D-158!!!- we were VERY impressed with this)

We did not want medication and tried to avoid it for a very long time (5 years). We have tried many things in the alternative. He was using the climbing wall at school in the morning, which really helped, but we moved and no more climbing wall. Last November, we started him on neurofeedback with a psycologist in Schaumburg. This basically trains the brain to be more focused. Send me a message if you want his contact info. DS's principal actually suggested that we give him caffeine in the morning before school. She said that if a child is truly ADHD, the caffeine will have a reverese effect and help calm and focus the child. (Her ADHD child has a Mt. Dew every morning before school). I had previously noticed that when I let him drink sweet tea before football practice, he had really great practices.

We recently started him on Clonidine just before school started. We were really starting to worry about his prgress at school and falling behind socially and academically. He takes 1/2 a pill at night and 1/2 in the morning. It makes him sleepy. Before school started he would be dragging mid-afternoon. So, we let him drink a little can of Mt. Dew before football practice (I NEVER thought I'd ever let my kid drink Mt. Dew!!!!) It's probably too early to tell any difference at school, but so far, he has not gotten into any trouble. He also does not come home tired, although he does say that he's kind of sleepy during the day. Once he gets into the swing of things at school, we're going to try the caffeine before school for about a week to see if it has any positive effect. Good Luck to you.

I see you have lots of responses...I was out of town and looking back...

I have 2 thoughts..
I was a special ed teacher for 9 years before I had my children.

1st...would you deprive your child of glasses if they needed them? Would you deprive your child of insulin if they needed? Kids with ADHD really need the medication to help them focus.

2nd...is putting your child in special classes to aviod medication in the best interest of your little guy? I have taught both special classes and large "regular" classes, I worry what influences he is being introduced to in the special education classrooms.

Just something to think about...I know how hard it is to make such difficult decision. I am not trying to criticize...
Good Luck!

Iam a parent that has a child with ADHD, now Iam not saying to medicate your child or not. My son is 9 and has been on meds since he was 7. I did try this past summer to take him off of his meds and it was not a good idea at all. The only issue Iam seeing for your child is he might be made fun of now because of the fact that he is in a "special class" all because he cant pay attention. I also have a child that is apart of IEP because he has a speech problem and is in a special classroom and gets made fun of all the time and it isnt a fun place to be. Whichever way you go, think about it. Provena Mercy Center Behavioral Center has a wonderful program for ADHD/ADD. Email me if you change your mind. GOod Luck.

My doctor has recently talked to me about how diet can have a major influence in ADHD symptoms. Have you seen a nutritionist with your child? My doctor said that foods like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, citrus and some fruit like strawberries can have an effect on a child's nervous system, and cause ADHD behavior.

I think seeing a counselor outside of school might be helpful if you don't want to put him on meds. The counselor should be able to suggest some activities/accomodations for the classroom so your son can be more productive in school. As a special ed teacher and a mom of a child with learning disabilities I will tell you that sometimes medication is a god-send and sometimes it just doesn't help. It really is a try it kinda thing. I'm not sure where you live but I suggest Smart Love Family services. They are totally family oriented and my daughter loves going to see her counselor. Also, ask for a behavior specialist from the district to do a functional assessment and behavior intervention plan so that you and the IEP team can start a plan to get your son back into the general education classroom ASAP. Your right about one thing....BEING IN THE GENERAL ED. CLASSROOM IS THE BEST THING FOR HIM ACADEMICALLY AND SOCIALLY.

Please write if you have any other questions.

This might seem like an avenue you wouldn't necessarily think of, but we go to a doctor that does combinations of kinesiology, allopathy, western physiology, chiropractic and does a technique that has done wonders for our 2 year old called NAET. It is an allergy elimination techique - www.NAET.com - and they have found that many kids with ADD ADHD and Autism have many undiagnosed food and other type allergies that starts to affect their thinking, hyperactivity levels, etc.

We go to Dr. Tam in Lombard. He specializes in ADD ADHD with the NAET he does.

Our insurance covers it - you can call and ask if yours does.

Good luck! (don't go the meds route - you can dig a deep hole that way. Also a pharmeceutical grade fish oil has been PROVEN in countless studies to be JUST as effective as the ADD and ADHD meds WITHOUT the side effects. Google it. I have been to the AMA nutritional conferences that discuss the studies. The research is not being promoted FOR A REASON! But they HAVE been published in the Med Journals. Interesting huh?)

While medication can be a (blessing) to most teachers, if your son is not a behaivor problem to others, and is learning I would stay off the drugs! Yes drugs, not medication. If you are considering meds be sure you learn all you can about what it is and how it effects the brain. Most are a form of narcotic. There are so many professionals out there that truly believe they have your child's best intrest at heart by giving him a pill to help him focus. I feel strongly that they have forgotten what it means to be a child, and learn and think like a child does. We do not have little grown ups who can sit and absorb information for long periods of time. There are many differnt learning stlyes including auditory, visual, kinestic (by doing) and many cobinations of the three. Teachers find it easiest to teach to the auditory learners and forget what it means to be a kid. I am a licenced teacher and hear the comments every day. I am not saying that those busy wiggely kids are easy, but they deserve understanding and patience just the same. You know your child and you are his best advocate. Don't give in to pressure from the experts until your child is no longer learning and is unhappy with who he is and how he learns.
Best Wishes

In our culture we're quick to slap a diagnosis of disordered on children because they don't fit in the one-size-fits-all school mold when it's the school and culture that's disordered in their thinking that all 6-year-olds should be able to sit still and focus in an academic setting. Little boys (and girls) run and play. When we expect them to do otherwise for many hours each day, it's just not normal.

You say your son is bright and articulate- I bet there are plenty of things he focuses on and pays attention to when they are of his own desire and choosing. He sounds very normal and would probably thrive in an alternative environment (homeschooling, Montessori, etc) that honors his unique personality and strengths and doesn't want to medicate him out of his normal behavior.

I recommend the book "Defending Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness" by Chris Mercogliano. There are more consequences than we even know to rejecting a child's unique spirit and energy in favor of a dulled, medicated version who can sit still and play the school game. And labels do so much harm. I really believe these kids are like the canaries in the coal mine- they're not broken, it's the environment that needs to change.

Hello C.,

I agree with trying to remove things from his diet:

I'd like for you to go into your pantry/fridge and tell me which items and how many items contain the following:

-High fructose corn syrup (in a lot of baked goods, soda pop, etc.) -Partially hydrogenated oils (again lots of baked goods, snacks, etc.) -Artificial dyes (Red dye #40, Blue Lake, Yellow, etc.) -Artificial sweeteners - Aspartame, Sucralose (Splenda) - (i.e. Crystal Light, any thing that says "sugar free").
-Sodium Nitrate - (processed meats - hot dogs, lunchmeat, etc.)

You'll have to take some time and read the labels and write them down. Write down all the items which he consumes that contain any of the above ingredients. I would remove them immediately.

Go to a back to basics, no processed food, organic whenever possible diet. Cooking as if we were living when our great grandparents were around...

My six year old was also diagnosed with the same thing as you son. He has been on medication since may. (medidate 10 mg)I too was weary of this but decided that we could at least try it.I decided to try it at a time when I could closely monitor him and see how he reacted to it.This was the best thing that we ever did for him. He has been able to focus and concentrate and he actually enjoys learning so much. It is amazing what he has been able to comprehend since he started his medication. Mybe we have been lucky but he has had no side affects from this medicine and it has done wonders for him. Good luck, I know its a tough decision

Not sure what other responses you have had but thought I might offer one little bit of advice but may not relate to your child. I have a very active 5 year old boy. He has not been diagnosed with anything at this point but if he was, I would be very hesitant to medicate. But it just so happens that this week, we took him for his eye exam and he has trouble seeing near, which we were shocked about. The eye doctor said that he's so glad that Illinois made it mandatory to have eye exams entering school. He said that 40% of kids that are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD actually just have an eye problem that has cause them to loose interest cause they can't focus and then it becomes a habit to not want to focus on work cause it doesn't come easy. Anyway, just a thought and good luck with your son. Sometimes I just think boys need to be boys and not be over diagnosed with different things.


I can definitely empathize with you. However, my advice is coming from the educational point of view. I am a teacher in a district with full inclusion. This means we have students of all learning abilities and backgrounds. This includes students with disabilities such as autism, along with students like your son, who have ADHD. You may not see this because you are not in the classroom with him, but he could potentially be disrupting the learning environment not only for himself, but for the rest of his peers. Due to his disability, he cannot control his hyperactivity and attentional problems. He may be extremely bright, but that might not come through because he cannot focus on tasks for long periods of time or he may not be able to attend to his homework or lesson. There are so many different types of medication available, I would strongly encourage you to talk with your pediatrician and your school nurse to get some advice. I have seen kids with ADHD go on medication and make HUGE gains both academically and behaviorally. Good luck with your decisions.

I don't have personal experience with this. But I know that even with the medication you are going to have to work with him a lot. Give it a try, honor the opinion of the experts who have seen hundreds of kids. You'll know better then.

my son started focalin yesterday. He was never dx with ADD. he has tourette syndrome and a really hard time paying attention and staying focused. If this med doesnt work his neorologist wants him to start a seizure med because of his abnormal EEG over a year ago. We will get a repeat in sept. I figured an ADD med is less then the 2 evils. I do beleive the meds are overly prescribed and will try anything else first. i would recommend looking at his diet- I could not believe my childrens beahvior last sun after eating snow cones. I really think dye has something to do with it. If all else fails then look at med.

Hi C.,

I'm not in your situation so take my advice for what it's worth. Maybe nothing. I completely understand your hesitancy to put your child on medication and I think by looking at things such as tutoring etc is a good first step.

However, don't discount nutrition. There are several studies that date back to the 80's that show that kids with ADHD and other behavioral disorders are effectively treated with nutrition. I'd start there. Do some research, become one with the self help areas of libraries and book stores discussing ADHD and nutrition and see where that takes you.

If you've done your homework and you've tried alternative treatments and nothing helps then I think you need to re-think your stance on medication. I think it should be your last resort but still an option. If your child needs help and nothing will do it but medication, you have to at least consider it for his best interest.

Good luck! I hope you are able to find a sucessful alternative to medication. I know I hate putting my kids on even antibiotics.

Hello C.,
My Mom use to help a lot of people through herbs and heomapathy and one thing that helped a lot of kids with ADD was New Light Kit by Hanna Kroeger. The best website to purchase it is Southernherb.com It did wonders for a lot of children without medication. You should definatly give it a try. Good luck-A.

I say if your gut is warning you not to jump on medication, listen to it. Exhaust all aother options first. I would start by looking into his diet and possibly using supplements to give what he is lacking. I recently heard a testimony of a woman who's son is ADHD and she uses a lot of different things but definately protein shakes before school. Her son is now old enough to make them himself and he tells his mom he can feel the difference when he doesn't drink them. Look into Shaklee or your local health store. Good luck and stick with your gut!

I am a former sp. ed teacher and I do not like the term "adhd". I think it places certain kids into a category that they may not belong in and sometimes I think it is a school districts way of keeping a child "calm". I tutor a 2nd grader who has some delays and an 8th grader as well. The younger girl is considered adhd and is not on meds. Her parents monitor her diet and even though she gets some help in school are using me as her tutor to help keep her focus and learn different ways to go about doing her homework and everyday class work. I would definately talk to your doc about a referal to a nutritionist and then look into a tutor. Possibly one like me who does it out of my house and not a place like Sullivan, just for the distraction purpose. Too much other stimuli. Good Luck! PS ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S BEST ADVOCATE AND NEVER SETTLE FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU DO NOT FEEL IS RIGHT!!!

You are going in the right direction. The IEP program is wonderful, and over time will get your child where he needs to be. Do everything in your power to avoid meds. Focus on his nutrition, load him up with wholesome foods. Avoid foods loaded with perservatives and additives and artificial bright colored food. This has made a big difference in our lives. My son, when in the 3rd grade, was going to be given a lable because his ability to focus was week. His diet was the first thing we addressed, and pulled him through with flying colors. The teachers noticied a big difference.
Hope this helps!
N.-Nutrition Naturally

There is an alternative to medication. It's called neuro biofeedback. I'm sure you have heard of biofeedback for lowering blood pressure. This is biofeedback for the brain. It is even covered by insurance in some cases. Neuro biofeedback is a cutting edge technology, so it is not well known. The brain works at different electrical frequencies, or mega-hertz. Someone with ADHD has an area of the brain that is not working at the optimum frequency. Drugs stimulate, or calm the brain, depending on the drug. Neuro biofeedback simply retrains the brain to work at the optimum frequency. Try a Google search. This technology works! P.

did you tell the school that he was diagnosed with adhd? If not, don't! he will be labeled at school for the rest of his life. I know that there are things you can do if you don't want to use medication..counselor, tutor, adhere to a rigorous schedule to keep him focused. You could also talk to your doctor about medication that only has to be taken once a day. I have read many articles on this, and since I volunteered at school some, I found that they really do label kids as special needs. this continues right into high school! I would be very cautious about it and really talk to your doctor about your concerns.

While I am not strictly opposed to medication when necessary, I really feel like behavioral and environmental changes should come first. I understand what the previous poster mentioned about a chemical abnormality but that is not to say that it has to be dealt with chemically. I fully understand that just "trying harder" is not going to do it but there have been wonderful advancements made in the area of non-medicinal approaches to challenges like ADD. In no way am I an expert but from what I understand you son has trouble filtering information? From what you said it seems like he is getting the info just not retrieving it very well so maybe there are ways to help him retrieve the info. I would suggest researching ADD a bit and trying some different methods of coping before turning the to meds. It will take more than just tutoring, you're going to need to find someone familiar with ADD and how to handle it but the resources are out there. Good Luck and I admire you for caring enough about your son to look into things before drugging him up :)

I had thought my daughter was a little ADHD because she couldn't focus, was all over the place, wouldn't listen, and was very...shall I say... spirited to put in nicely. I put her on the Feinberg Diet and I noticed an immediate change in her the days we followed it to the letter. The diet is VERY strict.. there are certain fruits you can't eat because they have something in them that aspirin has (no apples, oranges, berries of any kind, peaches, etc. etc.). If you can't eat them, you can't drink them, so we were limited to water and organic lemonade for the most part. Also strictly organic, no preservatives, no additives. I was spending about $400/week at whole foods for her, but I felt it was worth it.
The biggest problem though is like I said when it was followed to the letter, she was great, but one slip up and she was back to the old ways. I found it was nearly impossible to follow this completely outside of our home and sometimes even within the home because I misread a label or forgot about something that she couldn't have. I told her she was allergic to everything just to make it easier on her to understand why she couldn't eat goldfish, or cake at a birthday party, or really anything at a birthday party. No eating out ever really.. But really.. you leave a kid at a birthday party and the kid is going to eat something and then act out of control. I was the food nazi. Instead of getting upset with her for her behavior, I was constantly getting upset/fighting with her about what food she could and could not eat. I thought she was getting a little depressed doing this but I kept trucking thinking that was better than medication and that in the long run this had to be better...
Then she was diagnosed with absence epilepsy and had to take medication for that (that was part of the "not focusing" problem that I thought was ADHD). When she started this medication, she was really off her rocker. While I thought she might have had it before, now she really had it. The medication had dyes and preservatives etc. so that made following the diet impossible. She also was just having a bad reaction to that medicine but she had to take it anyway. To make a long story short, they gave her an ADD medicine to counteract the side effects of the epilepsy medicine. With that, she is a completely different kid, even better than she was on the diet. She is happy, she sits still, she is helpful, thoughtful, can focus, listen, pay attention, play with other kids, good at school, etc.
So while trying out the diet may work for you, don't discount the benefits of the medication either. The diet that helped her is extremely extremely strict.. he has to eat different than the other kids all the time and that will make him feel different. Just like he probably feels different now. And you will find yourself spending a lot of money just to have one play date ruin the day. You have to send special drinks and foods anywhere he goes. While your other children can have the occasional mcdonalds, he can never have it. I don't think that extra tutoring is the answer.. you would be making him do a lot of extra work that he wouldn't have to do and he will get frustrated in my opinion. I think you have to change the way his brain is working not keep forcing it to work the way people without it work. Either with diet (like I said is very hard and I don't know if that even works for everyone) or with the medication.
And no, while this is not the same as a child with diabetes, and keeping ADHD medications from them is not the same as withholding insulin since they are not going to literally die without them, just remember that being in a different class and having to eat different foods and having to do extra work is going to make him feel different.. like a part of him is dying...like my daughter I saw her spirit dying everytime she tried to eat a raisin and I yelled and got upset about it.
Good luck with whatever decision you make.. I know you want what is best for him, you just have to figure out what that is!

I know that having to taking meds is not an easy thing! My nephew was diagnosed with ADD at a young age as well. He is now 14 and I can not tell you the difference the medication has made for his studies. He is very bright and could learn without meds but as you were saying, it hindered everything around him, classmates, teaching styles, etc. As a teacher librarian, I see every class in the school I work for. I speak with the classroom teachers on a weekly basis. It can be very hard when a student is so disruptive and so that is probably why you son is with a special teacher. I would say try the meds before you just disregard them... they may be wonders for your little boy!

I personally don't like the thought of medication for a small child unless necessary. Have you tried different diets? Some people have eliminated red dye from their children's diets & it does miracles for them. Also some kids just need more exercise than others. I watched 3 children for a few months when I was younger & the oldest was always called "hyper", or "problem child", but was a calm sweetheart if she had enough exercise.

My daughter was diagnosed with ADD in high school. She struggled through elementary school with tutors and extra help. We did put her on medication, but she also had a say in it since she was older. I was always anti-meds but someone gave me something to think about -- which another poster also mentioned. If your son had a heart problem or diabetes or liver condition -- you would medicate him right? The brain is just another organ in the body and it can become messed up too. Unfortunately, it controls many complex things. It might be worth it to try the meds to see if they help. But you have to do what you feel is right. You also could try tutors and extra help and nutrition. Maybe a combination of a few of these things would be the answer for him.

I didn't go the drug route with my son but definately should have. He struggled all thru school and his wonderful grades fell more each year. They can't "keep up" without an attention span. I'de go with the pills if I had to do it all over again.

C., my son is 17 now and was said to have ADHD at around 5 yrs old. His mother and I have been divorced pretty much since then but he had been on several meds including Ridilin, and a couple of others. He has twitches now and I believe it's from the meds.
Watch his diet, no real amount of sugar, very limited candy and soda intake. Also check into some good vitamins that can help.
My girlfriends daughter has bi-pollar, and that medication is not good for you either, we are now checking into more natural vitamins instead, and surprising enough the Doc. is actually willing to work with that in steps.
Also she had bad allergies and asthma, after changing what we use around the house her asthma has essentially disappeared, and the other allergies have also left.
Watch what U use around the house.

F. In Schaumburg

My baby sister was "hyperactive" (which is now ADHD). The doctors wanted to give her medication, but my parents refused. Instead they started her on the Feingold diet (you can check out the website - feingold.org and there is a book avilable). Once they cut out artificial colors and flavors and preservatives, my sister changed completely. I also had some friends who did the same with good results.

Good luck.

I am a special education teacher and I can assure you he will be ok without medication. The important thing is to give him a structured routine and break tasks into manageable chunks. Also, keep in mind that he may not give the usual signs of attending like eye contact or sitting still but is still picking up information. Be patient, read together often and I am sure he will do just fine.


I will be short, b/c I see all the answers you got. My son is borderline ADHD and I have changed his food. This has helped so much. It is night and day difference. I did a sensitivity test and that told me what my son is sensitive to and need to stay away from. Things that he is sensitive to affect his immune system which affects behavior and such. If you have any other questions please contact me. But I will never never give my son meds. Changing food and sometimes environment has made a world of difference. Hope this helps.

Hi C.,
I believe putting a 6 year old on this kind of medication is insane.My son had these problems and in 5th grade he finally started focusing.He has Asperger's.I have never put him on anything,yes it was very hard.
You can't compare a life threatening disorder to ADHD.If you don't take Insulin you will die.Not the case with ADHD.
I have read, that those students you sometimes here about,collapsing dead during physical ed. those student had been taking ADHD meds.
These are stimulants,just like cocain,that is why a lot of people are using this medication as drugs.
I don't trust a doctor who would even suggest this for a 6 year old.
I wish you the best.

Two things, first read this article I just found yesterday. ADHD/ADD often get misdiagnosed for sleep apnea causing the same type of behavioral problems seen with ADD/ADHD. It is caused by the lack of sleep, not getting in their deep sleep...etc.


Second, the book, "Is This My Child?" by Dr. Dorris Rapp discusses how certain foods can trigger ADD/ADHD, gluten, soy, dairy, food dyes (which was featured on Nightline News a few months ago) and sugar. Her website www.drrapp.com She talks about how to do an elimination diet, etc. Or you can go to an allergist that specializes in food, chemical and environmental allergies. It could be a chemical too that causes a trigger.

Medication is the easy way out, if there are other issues such as sleep apnea, food allergies or food intolerances, you can easily control the problem and save some $$.

Good luck, I think you are doing the right thing by not jumping into meds right away.


I see that you have over 90 responses so please forgive me for not reading all of them before replying. I did however search the page to see if anyone mentioned the Feingold program, and sure enough, someone did. I'd like to also recommend it.

Mu daughter has been allergic to dairy since an infant and therefore we've had her off of all dairy of any kind. Around 18months of age however our sweet and super-easy little girl started becoming very difficult and somewhat violent. After years of saying, "oh, it's just the terrible twos, she's just ajusting to a little brother, it's just a phase", etc., etc., we finally got her into therepy. It's never easy to admit your child has a real problem.

Unfortunately therepy, as helpful as it was, never solved any of our problems, but it did rule out everything else. My daughter was diagnosed with a mood disorder, tentatively bi-polar. It runs in the family. We had no other choice than to put her on meds.

Shortly after I saw someone on here recommended the Feingold diet to another parent and it piqued my interest. Thank goodness!!! It's been amazing to see that all just the tiniest bit of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives can turn my daughter from sweet and loving to angry and violent. I can safely say we now have our daughter back. Yes, she's still on the meds, but without the Feingolddiet, the meds alone weren't doing enough.

Is it difficult to make such a drastic diet change -- yes and no. We were already reading labels for dairy, now we just look out for more. We're by no means health nuts but we all feel a little better about eliminating all that artifical chemical stuff from our diets.

From what I know about the Feingold program, it really is focused towards ADD/ADHD people, but the effects of following the diet are obviously much further reaching. If you don't want to put your child on meds, it's definitely worth giving the Feingold diet a try. You really haveto join the program though and it's well worth the money. They really work hard at providing you all the info you need and making it easy to find the foods you want, etc.

Sorry this was so long, but I really feel passionate about it now that I've experienced it for myself with my daughter. (I hate feeling so preachy.) Whatever you decide, good luck.


I don't blame you. Why drug up your child just so he "appears" to pay attention. You should check out a website that has tons of information on it, some of which may help you. www.shirleyswellnesscafe.com Good luck

I didn't really read ALL of what others had to say...but it seems like you are getting a mixed reaction. I can tell you that in my situation...what we have done. My now 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD midway through kindergarten. I am definately not one for the meds. After alot of research and experimenting, we tried the ADHD diet that we found online. (If you google "ADHD Diet" you will find what I am talking about. We totally overhauled her diet and changed everything she was eating. After a two week 'detox' of all the 'bad' food, we noticed a 100% change in her. Now I don't know if focus is his only problem. We dealt with the temper tantrums, the inability to sit still, the focus, etc. So we had our work cut out for us. But with the diet and a close relationship with her teacher, we have been managing just fine. We just met her 1st grade tonight, and she was briefed by the kindergarten teacher about her diet (for school snacks) so I filled in the rest, and asked if my daughter will be able to bring in a stress ball that she likes to squeeze when she feels ansty. The teacher is very cool about it, and I plan on keeping up the communication with her throughout the school year to address any problems or concerns. I have no idea if it is going to get harder as she gets older...at that point we will reevaluate her situation. But I have to say, there is alot to say about a diet change. Good luck..if you want any more info about that, let me know

I felt the same as you until my son got into the 6th grade and started failing at school. Up until 6th he had ADD but was able to keep his grades up and do well in school. I never wanted to put him on meds but I can tell you it is like night and day. He was feeling so bad about himself and when he started the meds he did a 180 and brought his grades up immediately and was on the honor roll again. Tutoring and extra help isn't going to take away the ADHD but I have heard there is a special diet that you can put him on and our natural doctor told us that there are some natural meds for ADHD but they only work for about half the kids that use them. You could try the natural route first. We didn't know about the natural meds until after we had already started the Adderall. We didn't switch because he was doing so well and because she said we would have to have him off the Adderall for 3 months before starting the natural meds.

I have ADD. Have been on meds since I was about 10. I love my meds. ADD and ADHD are diseases. Part of the brain does not function correctly. If I take my meds I am normal, if not, I struggle with everything. Struggling is not fun, being frustrated at school, and getting yelled at because you cant sit still and focus like the other kids, when there is effective treatment available, is so hard.

When I cant be on my meds, such as when I have been pregnant or nursing, it is awful. My brain just goes and goes and goes. I cant just sit and watch a movie, or even get through dinner without fidgeting. Cant read my kids a story because I get so bored. With my meds, I am NORMAL. It is the most blissful feeling in the world. I can just be- be calm, be quiet, be my true self.

There is nothing wrong with trying tutoring, diet changes, exercise (I am huge proponent of the last one for ADHD kids, think it should be a treatment requirement). But there is nothing wrong with medication. People see no problem with taking medication for problems of the body, but for those of the brain they think you should just be able to buck up and shake it off- the person just isnt TRYING had enough. It doesnt work that way. No matter how hard I try my brain is never going to work right on its own. That's why I am eternally grateful for my medicine. Its not bad, it makes my life so much better and richer. I would hope the same oppurtunity would be offered to every person with the disorder.

I would like to add that I do 100% believe that at least half of kids diagnosed wtih ADD/ADHD do NOT have it. That's why I am all for trying diet changes, a change in how the child is disciplined, tutoring, and above all, at least 30min of rigorous exercise daily. People say "Oh this disorder didnt exist 100 years ago.". Yes, it did. Science just didnt understand it or have a name for it. My grandmother, age 88, has it. No, she's not medicated, hardly can see the point this late in her life. There was no processed foods for her, no food dyes, she was very active as a kids with there being no tv or video games and she had 6 siblings to run around with. She still had the disorder. But I think a lot of kids do have some allergy to something they eat, or are just physically bored, or need better structure in their lives. I just am saying that if your child really does have it then you shouldnt be afraid to treat it in every way that is available. Try it for just a month, ONE MONTH, and see how it goes. Is he happier? Is school easier? Is your home more peaceful? If yes, then try just one more month. Just because you try meds doesnt mean he has to be on them for life.

Dear C.,

There are some amazing nutrition products that may give your son what he needs and meds will be a non-issue. I really encourage you to give a try before doping your kid - sometimes still necessary but most find nutrition plays a huge part. The one we have found to be the best is Reliv (and simplest to take). I don't sell it but have a friend who does. She would be able to give you more info too. She is a mom of 2 boys and expecting her 3rd (hopefully a girl) and she is using the Reliv products as her complete prenatal care. You can contact Maritess at ###-###-#### (that is her cell). I will let her know she might hear from you!

E. "older" mom with kids 17-26:-)

I didn't medicate my son for his ADHD for a long time, as I was convinced he would benefit from extra help. He didn't, and we ended up doing medication after a year anyway. Once he started taking it, there really was a big difference in his attention level. It has helped him a lot. He is so much more focused, and gets things done. I am not really pro meds, as I spent YEARS on meds for a disorder I didn't have, but medicating ADHD has been very beneficial for my child.

I understand your hesitancy with medication and firmly believe in trying all natural remedies first. Taking out sugars, processed foods, additives/preservative, etc. That is really hard but doable. Organics are good too because of no pesticides.

But if that doesn't work I want you to think about something. ADHD is not something that can just be controlled. It is a disorder that is biologically based in the brain. Your child most likely feels completely out of control and unable to be in control of his attention. Imagine wanting to do the right thing but not being able to. It is not something that can just be controlled. Medication corrects the imbalances in the braing that cause the inattention and help him be more in control. It is a vitamin for his brain to help make it work better.

That saying, try the natural stuff first, talk to doctors, take your son to a counselor to learn coping skills and have someone to help him manage any anger from this problem, and never do something you are not comfortable with or have not researched yourself. You are your son's best advocate.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.