Advice - ADD/ADHD Meds

Updated on May 11, 2011
T.B. asks from Omaha, NE
17 answers

Hello moms! I need some help!! My son is 5, and we have struggled this first year in kindergarten. Doctors believe he is ADD/ADHD, and I am partial to believing they are correct. He's very impulsive, has trouble focusing, usually have to ask more than once to do something. The list goes on. We tried Focalin XR first, lowest dosage. Didn't do anything but make him lose his appetite completely. Tried Concerta. That's what he's been on for the majority of the school year. Hes also on the lowest dosage for that. 18mg. There have been improvements, but he's still having issues.
Took him back to the doc to have him seen so I could get a refill. Also visited with the nurse about maybe upping the dosage to 27mg (since that's the next step up). Told the nurse that his behaviors weren't really better, still having the impulsiveness etc, not getting his work done. Instead of upping what he was already on, they want me to try "Clonodine" along with the Concerta. Wrote me a RX, and I filled it, but after reading online about it, I'm not sure if that's what I want to do.
Has anyone ever mixed Concerta, or any type of ADD drug with Clonodine? It says to give it to him before bed. I just don't know if I want to put him on something else and deal with a whole new round of side effects. We've been doing behavior therapy, and doing the rewarding system for good behavior. Just doesn't seem to be working, and I'm feeling like I'm failing miserably for my son.

Any suggestions or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I was on Concerta for a while and I didn't like the way it made me feel, my son was on Adderall XR for years and it just didn't work (he has multiple problems, way too many). His behavioral specialist decided to do a trial of the medication Vyvanse to just try and see if it made any change and boy oh boy did it ever!! Behavior improved so much. I am also on Vyvanse and it works wonders, I just love it!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We tried meds for a time with my 4yr old, it did not make enough of a diff that we took him off of them completely. We will be starting school this fall and my tune may change, but I am not willing to put him on the medications that they have recently suggested as of now. Is there any way you can take him off for a while and see if the behaivor therepies are working w/out the meds and go from there?

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from St. Louis on

My youngest takes clonodine to fall asleep at night. It lowers your heart rate. She needs it because she just goes and goes and goes. Without it should would fall asleep at midnight or later.

It doesn't do a thing to help with the ADD mind you. Did you complain that he was having trouble falling asleep at the same time you inquired about uping the dose?

So far as the interactions go there are none. My pediatrician, who is also a friend gives it to his son to fall asleep as well. He says it is one of the safest things offered to ADD kids.

Oh and meds or not homework is the devil to anyone with ADD. You have to remind them over and over, for housework or anything else they don't actually want to do as well. They are kinda hoping you forget about it too, ya know?

I have ADD and I am on Adderall as well. I assure you it doesn't make me like a task I don't want to do and I still dedicate a good part of my mind figuring out how not to continue to do that task. Having to get done what must be done comes from within, he will have to be taught that.

I can show you some very impressive macros that do a lot of my work here. Wicked hard code to write but I like writing code. What I don't like is typing numbers and information that my computer can do itself just fine. That is the mind of the ADD, good luck. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

If I were you, before I give another med, I would check out everything you can do to help him in a nonmedical way - counseling for parents and for child, doing an elimination diet where you see if he is sensitive to things like gluten or artificial ingredients, and also supplements like a high grade, purified fish oil. Do some research on your own. Continue with his meds he is already on, but add some nonmedical things as well.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Yes, that's a safe combo. Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to manage tics, in addition to the sleep issues already mentioned. Also, our son was prescribed Clonidine when he was three as an initial step to help with his severe ADHD symptoms. It did zip for ADHD and we had to go through a long process of gradually increasing the dosage and then tapering off. Don't waste time doing this if you don't have to.

I would go back to the doctor and ask why he chose not to increase the Concerta. Our son started Concerta when he was five and it worked wonders, but only when the dosage was right. When it was too low, his symptoms came back. Our son was on 27 mg. at that age, so I don't think it's a matter of him being too young for the dosage, especially if Concerta seems like a good match otherwise.

I'd be very curious what your doctor's explanation was for adding a new med into the mix. I would really question that and note that you're not really comfortable adding a new medication, esp. one that you have to build up and taper off of.

Is this a psychiatrist prescribing the medication? If not and it's just a pediatrician, that may be the problem. You really want a skilled psychiatrist who knows these meds inside-out guiding you.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Does your son see a Childhood Specialist, so that he has someone he can talk to outside of Mom and Dad who can also give him some specifics on how to handle things? My daughter has been seeing one since she was five years old (she's now 11); she has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).

I absolutely refuse to put my child on any type of pharma drug, and her Childhood Specialist knows this. The CS is absolutely phenomenal with how she helps in giving my daughter coping mechanisms/suggestions on how to handle things.

If you are looking for something to help your son, think about getting him totally off all processed foods, anything that has dyes, food coloring, additives, preservatives, nitrites/nitrates, etc., etc. It has been proven that those things can seriously impact neurological impluses. Also, get any and all Excitotoxins (aspartame, other artificial sweeteners, MSG, glutamate, etc.) out of his diet; they are also culprits in exciting the neuro pathways. Give him fresh, organic food and fresh water (city water has flouride and chlorine in it, plus a whole host of other stuff that's not for the human body--look into installing a reverse-osmosis system. We have a 50 gallon tank on our kitchen sink, have had it for three years now. Best decision we ever made--and we have well water [but high in nitrites, and we were previously ag land, so pesticide residue is a concern].).

If you still think he needs something to "even out" his neurotransmitters, then I suggest you have him see a Naturopathic doctor. My daughter took some specific amino acids that she was deficient in; even she told me that they worked for her. There are three or four different ones; you have to start at one and see how it goes; you work through them until you find the one your son is deficient in. It worked for my daughter.

Hang in there. It's a long road, but if you do what I outlined above, you CAN help your son the natural way. Remember: all pharmaceutical drugs have side effects. Supplements, herbs, and nutriceuticals do not. My daughter is still growing; they have no idea what giving pharmaceuticaldrugs will do to a growing child's mind. There was no way I was going to put my daughter on pharma drugs. I am glad I was open minded and sought out alternative medicine. My daughter thanks me every day for allowing her to try a natural approach.

Good luck.

P.S. A caution on using Ritalin--we have good friends whose son was taking Ritalin. His father was called away from an event with the news that his son was in the hospital in a coma. They almost lost him. The Ritalin caused their son to develop diabetes, and he almost died of a diabetic coma. That was when he was 12 years old, about four years ago. He now has to take insulin for the rest of his life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My now-22 year old son has a super deluxe case of ADHD. Clonidine was the very best medicine he ever used, but back then, they stopped using it for kids with ADD, because it caused liver damage in some people (small percentage, but too risky). He's now doing well on Strattera.

If you're finding that medicine is not helping enough, consider trying this: the Feingold diet.
It changed my son's life. He went from "Tazmanian Devil" type constant motion and inability to stop his impulses (although he always knew what he had done wrong once he stopped for a moment to think about it) to about B- level behavior......meaning we could live a pretty normal life with him and keep him in kindergarten. Adding medication brought it up to A or A- behavior. When he ate things that are off the diet, the medicine did not work at all. But, when he followed the diet, the medicine could do its work and brought him up enough to be worth it. Then, behavior modification could work, as well.

Many people whose kids have ADD think they must choose between medicine and diet, and Feingold people are definitely slanted against medicine. However, my son had great success using
BOTH simultaneously, and I shudder to think how things would be if we had stuck with medicine alone. He still uses both, although as he's gotten older, he hasn't needed to be as strict with the diet.

Here are a few suggestions, speaking as a M. who would love to go back and re-do some things starting at age 5 for him:

1--Do everything you can to help him gain good social skills, because as he gets a little older other kids will start to reject those who are different or who are disruptive. This wounds the child, who doesn't mean to be "bad". Get together one-on-one with other children, especially if you can find other active boys. Help him learn how to interact well, with some gentle coaching. These kids sometimes miss nonverbal cues and need to learn to tune in to them.

2--Find ways for him to MOVE in appropriate contexts as much as possible to use some of that excess energy. Let him get dirty and make messes. Being told "no" constantly is very discouraging.

3--Focus on the best aspects of your son, and build him up in those areas. AD/HD kids are often very bright and inquisitive, and can have fun personalities. The world needs high energy people and it also needs dreamers. Steer him towards interests where his traits are valued.

4--If he wants to move while he's doing homework (and later while studying) LET HIM. This used to drive me nuts!! But I've learned a lot about brain development and cognitive processes, and the fact is that some people need to move in order to process information. It sure helped me cope with the pen tappers and foot jigglers in my classrooms later!! Help him find ways to move that won't distract others (squeezing a ball, tapping the pencil in his lap, etc.) and let him do whatever helps him when he's working alone at home.

If you decide to try Feingold, send me a private message and there are a lot of ideas I can share with you that can make it easier.

P.S. That "Tasmanian Devil" child has turned out pretty well. When he was five, I was really worried!!!! He'll graduate from Rice University in a few weeks with a double major. All that energy has some benefits!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Whenever you're talking about medications and brain chemistry (adhd, depression, anxiety, etc), the right dose and the right combination of meds is everything. I second the mom who suggested you talk more with your doctor about why he wants to add a second med instead of upping the concerta. The psychologist and neurodevelopmental pediatrician we saw for my son told us that for some kids, a higher dose works well and makes the side effects less, while a lower dose gives you more side effects and no benefits. But the opposite can be true as well. I'd also suggest that you make sure you're working with a pediatrician who has a lot of ADHD experience. Once you've found a medication dose/combination that works, you can go back to your regular ped to get refills, but finding the right med can be a tricky process. And it's so worth getting it right - spend the time now to find the right combination for your son, and then you'll be able to focus on helping him to fully become the smart, energetic, amazing person that he is.

Stick with it - like antidepressants, there is an almost overwhelming array of ADHD options available now - which is wonderful and complicated. You're doing a great job by being persistent until you find the right thing for your son. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Like the pp my youngest takes clonidine as a sleep aide.

My oldest takes adderall for add/ADHD

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son was also diagnosed early with adhd (his kindergarten teacher told me she had the extreme children in the district and my son was the extreme in her classroom) he was started on Ritalin which did not work for us at all. he had never been combative or anger issues but the Ritalin made him angry and very emotional. they switched him to adderall which was wonderful for the behavior and focusing issues. but it wound him up so much he was not able to sleep at night. this is when they gave us the clonidine. I gave it to him for a short time but refused it long term as there have not really been any long term testing on it as to what long term effects it could cause in a child. it is actually a blood pressure med for adults. He was taken off regular adderall and given adderalxp which was a slow release and that worked well from 2nd grade thru 6th grade. in 6th they switched him to vyvance which for us was a miracle drug. he was on that for a year. in the summer of 7th grade he asked to stop taking the pills and we gave him a chance to see how it would work out. it worked great for 8th grade but he is sliding back into short attention etc so we are discussing him going back on the meds.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Is your child's pediatrician prescribing these meds?

I don't have a child with ADHD, but my husband has ADHD and Asperger's. He was put on multiple medications as a child and he is adamant that it was the worst thing that happened to him. Medication did not 'help' him. Medication made it easier for those around him (parents, teachers).

I suggest having your child see a therapist that deals with children with these issues. The therapist can teach your child coping skills that will make life better for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

first of all take a deep breath and realize that you are not failing miserably. You are doing all the things you can do to help him. And you're doing a great job. Also realize that he's only 5 and regardless he's going to have a hard time focusing - he's 5! He needs to run and climb trees and catch frogs.

My son has been on ADHD meds since 1st grade. We've only used ritalin and focalin - both time released. I think you are wise pausing before you add another Rx. School is only for another few weeks/months. Why don't you finish out the school year on the current meds - after all it's not high school physics - it's kindergarten.

We decided against concerta becuase the time period is covers is about 12 hours - I just thought it would be too disruptive for bedtime. The ritalin and focalin time released version covers about 5 - 7 hours which was enough to get through school and homework.

We also only use the medication on school days - trying to keep meds to a minimum. Have you tried eliminating food additives and colorings? what about wheat products? We did the Feingold diet for my son for about 6 months and it definiely helped - but it's tough to follow and can get expensive to buy only foods with no additives. But we found that artificial colors are the thing my son is senstive to - so by eliminating the neon colored food, cereal, candy, etc - he's much better.

This is all just trial and error. Try to allow him to get physically exhausted, let him run around and get his wiggles out before school. It could also be that he's the kind of kid who learns best when he's in motion. Check out Cynthia Tobias's books about learning styles. The only way we could do certain homework was to allow him to do it inbetween jumping, running, throwing a ball, etc. My kid could not do his ABC's - but once we allowed him to jump up and down he rehearsed his ABC's in an instant. amazing!

Good luck mama - you can do this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

My son also has ADHD and was started on meds in 1st grade after testing by the school and his dr to rule out behavioral and physical problems. I agree with monitoring his diet for reactions to certain foods, especially sugar and sweet foods. I have also found that with the hyperactivity part of the disorder that using stimulant meds such as the ones you have had experience with so far, we didn't see very good response either. It wasn't until we switched to non-stimulant Strattera that we saw a dramatic decrease in his symptoms and were able to get effective results from the behavior therapy and rewards system. He is now 12, and is able to go without meds at all the majority of the time. He has been able to learn to manage his symptoms without the medications with the behavior therapy techniques over the years and has outgrown much of the hyperactivity.
I would talk to your dr this summer about the possibility of non-stimulant ADHD medications, trying them during non-school hours gives you the chance to watch for side effects also. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sheboygan on

My 6 year old son was seen by a child phsychologist/therapist who diagnosed him as ADHD. She sent us to my sons pediatrician for a prescription. The pediatrician put him on Ritalin. It worked well except he wasn't eating or sleeping and didn't want to do anything physically active. It was not the right medicine for him! The therapist referred him to a child psychiatrist. A child psychiatrist has training in psychology as well as medical training. They really are the best qualified to give out prescriptions because they have the knowledge in both areas. It sounds like your son has only seen medical doctors? Has he been tested for ADHD? If not, I would ask to be referred to a child psychiatrist, or at least a child psychologist/therapist.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

How's his diet? It's important he's getting enough protein as that helps the Concerta work better. Check out the book by Monastra Vincent J. He also recommends certain supplements. It makes sense because when the brain gets the protein it needs it works better and helps the Concerta work better.
Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Hi. I'm a bit late with a response but I recently read a couple of good books about ADHD/ADD and medications. They are both by Leonard Sax and called "Why gender matters" and "Boys adrift"

He offers some very interesting research on the use of meds with children, especially boys diagnosed with ADHD.

Good luck


answers from Orlando on

My son is taking Clonodine along with focalin(sp) and hes never had any side affects except sleeping better

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions