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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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