How Do I Help My Son?

Updated on February 21, 2012
J.P. asks from Fennville, MI
22 answers

My 8 year old son was recently diagnosed with ADD and depression. He spent a month on meds for the ADD and I was seeing some very positive improvement. The problem is, my husband absolutely does not want our son on a narcotic medication, which all ADD meds are. My son is currently not taking any meds and his behavior and school work are reflecting that. My son is a very intelligent child, he just has troubles staying focused and completing his school work. He had several missing assignments every week. I've tried grounding him, and taking away TV and video games. None of this has seemed to make a difference. How do I help my son stay focused, yet still respect my husbands wishes of not medicating him? Any ideas would be wonderful. I suffer from depression too, and this whole ordeal has really been affecting me as well as my son. Thank in advance!

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far. I guess I should have included a few things in my earlier plea for help. My son has been in counciling since the beginning of the summer for depression. His diagnosis was made by a pediatric psychologist for both ADD and Depression. The main reason that my husband does not want out son medicated for ADD is because of how addictive schedule 2 narcotics are (which is what ADD and ADHD prescription meds are). I know this because I worked in a pharmacy for 4 years and I am still certified as a Technician. I also have to be careful on giving my son herbal medications because he also has a hereditary blood disorder that he's been on medication for since birth. I'm not saying that none will work, I just have to be careful of what he gets, and research it carefully. Thank you again for all your responses!

J.

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M.T.

answers from Detroit on

Dear J.,
My Daughter was put on ADD meds almost three months ago everything was a battle homework, eating, little stuff. Now when I forget to give her the medicine she is haywire. I too suffer from depression. They can grow out of it. I also had a niece that was ADD about age 7 and her mom was told instead of meds cut out or reduce the amounts of red and yellow dyes in food. This did work. I chose to do the meds because I felt it was teh right choice and it would help me to deal better with the problem.
M.

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R.W.

answers from Jackson on

I was Diagnosed with ADD when I was 13...it took my parents nearly 4yrs to find a Dr. who would DX me because at the time ADD/ADHD was a "boy" problem girls just didn't get it.

Anyway...I took meds for about 6months and just didn't like the way they made me feel. So I stopped taking them. And began working with and around my ADD. With help from school counselors, teachers, and my parents I learned how to cope with it. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of dedication from the child as well as his/her support people. But I did Ok through the rest of my school time, even went to college.

As I got older I began to notice food sensitivites too that caused problems and "triggered" a more scattered me.

Orange and Red food dye
Caffiene
Are the big ones.

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C.L.

answers from Detroit on

I was a teacher and found that parents that did not allow the kids to take their medication made the kids more miserable. The students I had, told me that they didn't like the way they felt or acted when they didn't have their medicine. Many would beg for me to call their parents to get their meds. But if this doesn't help, give your son a can of Coke in the morning. The caffeine will do the same for him as the medication. Keep in contact with the teacher while you are trying this out to see if he or she sees a difference in his behavior and attention. Ask her to keep track of his behavior and log it for you so you can make adjustments (ie, another coke at lunch because he is off the wall after recess) This may sound nuts, but it does work.

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B.K.

answers from Detroit on

I have a younger brother whom was diagnosed with ADHD at about the age of 6, he was on ritalin and adderol (sp?) for awhile but, my mom and dad decided it wasn't working well enough for him to continue on it.

Like someone else said Caffeine in the morning helps and maybe a small dose at lunch time like a piece of chocolate. Also to help his concentration during school, my brother would play with a piece of Play Dough or Clay. Something to keep his hands busy so his mind would be able to focus more. This really seemed to help him. He is now 17 and has been medication free for 10 years and doing great. I would also continue on with the therapy.

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L.G.

answers from Kalamazoo on

Hi. I worked in a health food store for several years and had seen many customers with this very complaint. There are some wonderful all-natural supplements out there to help with ADD. One of the good ones is DHA and omega 3's.. Omegas help with brain development and is incouraged from birth on.. I had both my boys on it as soon as they were able to drink from a bottle/cup (I nursed).. There are also vitamins (supplements) which are a combination of different things that help with ADD. One I seemed to like was called "Concentrate" by Enzymetic Therapys.. Its a chewable but there are many liquid ones out there too. Do some research on them and you'll probably find one that fits his symptoms. If you do try one.. please know that it can take up to 3 months for his body to normalize itself on new vitamins before you give up thinking they dont work.
Other then supplements there are other things you can do too. I'm sure you heard of limiting his TV time.. I recently went on vacation with my 5 yr old. There was no TV for a week.. The first few days it was like he went thru a withdrawl period.. He was acting all wired and stuff then by the end of the week he was sitting and reading on his own. He seemed more in control of himself and listened better too. I know its hard to cut it out but I think its also something you have to do for a long time before you see the improvements (like a month)... Also changing his diet will help too.. Working in the health food business I saw people with all different problems and many had misdiognoses from doctors.. Children can also act out and not concentrate if they are having a food allergy. If the supplements dont work enough then you might want to have him tested for food allergies.. I know its weird but I saw many many parents with kids acting like this and all they had to do was change their diet (cut sugar or wheat or eggs or whatever...) and then their kids seemed to go back to normal after a few months.. Food allergies can arise at anytime in life so it might be something new.
I'm sorry this is so long... I have a passion for helping people and know a lot about "alternative" supplements and have seen great things happen with the right vitamins... So If like to spread the word.. I hope this helps you and if you want to know anymore please message me.. thanks and I hope these things help.... Good Luck...

~L.

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L.M.

answers from Detroit on

We have gone thru a similar situation w/ our 8 year old son. He has a hard time staying focused and stopping goofing around. His kindergarten and 1st grade teachers thought he sould be on medicine for ADD. My husband and I disagreed and fill the same way as your husband does. I read a really good book - The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses (I cannot remember the author's name, he was a pyshcologist out of Texas), I believe the subtitle was 'the truth about ADD or ADHD'. Also taking toys, tv or video games away from my son did not seem to matter - he can be happy just twiddling his thumbs, so I know what you mean.
I started when he was in 1st grade working with the teacher and when that didn't get anywhere I went to the principal. His principal was great, she listened to my concerns for my son and we set up a plan for my son. We met a few times ayear w/the principal, his teacher, the school social worker,the school pyshcologist(sp. sorry) and the title one teacher who he would work with in a smaller setting. We would talk about any concerns and the goals we had for him. My son knew we were all on the smae page and that he couldn't get away with anything. He is now in the 3rd grade and doing much better, i think in part because he has matured a little bit and know he understands more. We also moved last year to the other side of town and I gave him the choice if hge wanted to change schools and he did -- I think the fresh start truly helped my son becuase at his old school he went thru a lot and he thought he had to make everyone laugh all the time and he didn't know how to change so people would see him as someone different - he basically felt labeled.
My son is also very smart when he applies himself. I have meet with his teacher numerous times this year so we continue to stay on the same page - he has an assignment book that he brings home every night w/notes from his teacher and we email if we have other concerns. In the beginning of the year my husband or I had to sit with my son when he did his homework because he would rush thru his work - now we try to let him do his work and we just check it. We have a routine with his homework and that has helped tremendously. When he is frustrated we still sit with him and help him understand all of his work. A lot of praise for the good things my son did helped and continues to help. He went thru a time where he didn't like school and he'd always say he felt dumb. The praise has helped and I believe his fresh start at a new school had something to do with that as well.
Overall more of the positive vs negative has helped w/my son and it is not always easy - just worth it.
My son also loves sports - we try to enroll him in 1 sport or extra activity a season because that helps with his energy. The 2 big ones he plays are baseball and football -- my husband helps coach both - which I am really lucky he has the time for. I hope some of my babbling has helped - I was always greatful to know I wasn't alone, to know someone else had gone thru what I was experiencing. Have a great day! :)

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S.N.

answers from Saginaw on

I am not sure if this has been done yet, but you might consider pushing your doctor to order a brain spectrogram. This is the only conclusive PROOF that a person is ADD or ADHD. If you are able to get one, your husband should be able to see for himself that it's not just a behavior problem. ADD/ADHD is a measurable difference in the way the brain works. In a child that has ADD, there are easy to identify zones of the brain that are not behaving the way they should. After seeing this for himself, you husband should understand better why a medication can be very important. Plus, this is a great way to make sure that the diagnosis is correct, instead of the doctor's looping your son in with the bandwagon of ADD kids today. We all know that ADD/ADHD is most likely being over-diagnoses today. This is not at all to say that there are not real cases out there. And it is certainly possible that your son does have it. But, maybe the issue for your husband is concern that you might end up medicating your son unnecessarily. A spectrogram should help set his mind at ease that the drugs are really needed.

In the meantime, I would strongly suggest some Ginkgo Biloba supplements, coupled with St. John's Wort. Ginkgo Biloba helps with focus. St. John's Wort helps maintain calm, which should help with focus, as well as the depression.

Also, diet can be very important to treatment of ADD. Your son should avoid consuming chocolate, or any food containing caffeine. You should also limit sugar in general. Processed cheese seems to make ADD worse, too. Honestly, the list of foods to avoid can be quite lengthy. I suggest setting up a referral to a dietician, so that you can get a professional opinion of how best to treat ADD through dietary methods.

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A.W.

answers from Atlanta on

take your husband to the dr. with you let him know adhd is real and so is depression. I have adhd and depression myself and my son has adhd we are both on meds and when you find the right one it is life changing.

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L.L.

answers from Detroit on

I am not sure if I should respond to this or not, I don't have any first hand experience with it but do have several friends who have children with ADD. When I asked one to describe to me what it was like I was told "like watching TV and then all of a sudden the channel keeps changing" - so maybe that type of analogy would help your husband to better understand what your son deals with on a daily basis.

My one friends son is on Stratteria(sp) and I know they have had great success with that and another friend has her daughter on a "patch" because she did not want to be giving her "pills" - they remove the patch at the end of the school day and the medication lasts for an additional 3 hours - that way it is out of her system just prior to bed time. It seems to be working well for her - maybe another option to explore.

Best of luck,
L.

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H.L.

answers from Charleston on

Well I agree with you and your husband. I myself suffer from depression also. For the longest time I didn't want myself on meds. Which is the end only hurt me. Things like depression and ADD are NOT things to be taken lightly. You need to wiegh the pros and cons of taking medication. Which from what you said helped your son a lot, so your husband should realize that he is only hurting his son by not wanting him on meds. If the pros out wiegh the cons,which seems to be the case, he is being selfish and not thinkng of his son at all. You need to tell you need to do what is best for your son in the long run. And if the meds help him do better in school and socialy well then you know what you need to do.

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D.D.

answers from Detroit on

I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but I think you should just put your foot down with your husband. My step son is severley ADHD, and we thank god for his meds. Also, I am on disability for depression, and meds have saved my life on more then one occasion. I understand some people not wanting to medicate if it isn't nessacary, but sometimes it IS nessacary.But you know that. You husband just needs to know it, too. Have youtried having your sons doctor talk to your husband, too? Maybe hearing the benefits of the meds from someone other then you would help.

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K.G.

answers from Mansfield on

I am sorry to hear that you are going through this!! My brother had the same problem with his son at about the same age. However, my sister-in-law did not want their son to be on the medication, either. Even though, as you said, there are undeniably positive effects when the medication is taken. They ended up going with an herbal vitamin supplement of some sort. I think it had Gingko Biloba in it. I can't remember the name of it, but I'm sure if you do a Google search, you can find a lot of options. Just be sure to discuss it with your doctor first. Also, another option would be to talk to your husband about why it is that he really doesn't want your son to take the medication. Maybe there is some other reason, or he's afraid of something bad happening. If you guys are able to talk about it and find out the real reason your husband is against it, maybe you can get him to understand the benefits of this type of medication and see how unreasonable it is to not want your child to succeed. Maybe that sounded a little harsh, but it wasn't intended to. I hope you understand what I mean. Good Luck!! Let me know how it goes!

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J.L.

answers from Jackson on

Wow I have been there and done that! Except my ex husband thought he is just a boy and that's what they do. However I am the one who had to be called to the school and the one to take care of him at home. My son is now 8 and not only does he have adhd but he also has odd. He was on adderall but it seemed like it wasn't working, now we are trying to get him on something else. He is so smart but they have knocked him down to 1/2 days at school because he just can't make it through the day. For kids his age I don't believe that he can just learn to work with the adhd, give him meds to help him get to the age where maybe he can learn to live with it and without meds. I know my son hated take his so unless an 8 year old is abusing his meds I wouldn't worry about. As for your husband, tell him to live 3 days in your shoes before he tries to put his foot down. Good luck to you and your family.

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D.F.

answers from Grand Rapids on

My daughter also has ADHD and depression.
There is a ADD med that is not narcotic. It's called Strattera and is a non-stimulant. http://www.strattera.com/index.jsp

Usually those who those who are so against meds, only are informed enough due to the media, to know the bad aspects. Many don't understand fully what the child is going through, or have never had a family history to understand. ADD kids tend to fall behind in school without having focus, than they get embarassed and act out or decide to just fail.

One thing to remember, especially using your training: A medication is for a medical problem. You are only drugged up if you are using/abusing the medication in a manner not intended for.

One thing that helps is to pick your battles. I found by taking everything away from my daughter made her eventually (with her depression) not want to do anything. ADHD/depression kids can feel like "why even try". A chart/reward system works well. I would allow for some error. Set a reasonable time-frame/goal for him to work toward. If he brings home/completes his assignments for the week, he gets to rent a movie or video game that weekend. If his teacher comments on his good, focused behavior by conferences maybe take hime to the arcade/go-carts.

I have had depression, and it runs in the family. I don't want to scare you, but I would rather have my child medicated under a doctor/consular's care than to see her slide into herself or worse stop wanting to live at all.

I wish you all the luck! If you ever want to talk send me a message.

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B.

answers from Kalamazoo on

Hi J.,
well all of the meds are narcotic EXCEPT stratera. stratera is not the most effective add med out there, but it is worth a try, plus it has wellbutrin in it also which could help with the depression. i guess it depends on how severe the add is. punishing your son or taking away privelages is not going to help the add person though. goodluck

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S.L.

answers from Detroit on

Girl if you don't put him back on them meds. It will help him. Men get on my nerves talkin about what they don't want when its not them its affecting. By your son missing all this school work he is going to fail whatever grade he is in. Now I'm sure your husband wouldn't want that to happen now would he. You also have to think about your other children as well. How is his behavior affecting them? I think your hubby needs to spend a whole day with your son by himself and see what life is really like on the other side.

Ask yourself this. Its only gonna get worse with hin not being on the meds. What will happen if and when he hurts someone? What are you gonna tell the parents of the child who is hurt? What are you gonna tell the police if it gets that serious? Prepare to be brought up on neglect charges.

I answered this based on personal experience.

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M.S.

answers from Lansing on

You could talk with you physician on ways to treat ADD with diet I know mine said to cut out dyes in foods and sugars. and I know from dealing with depression laughter therapy can work one funny move during my lows alwasy bounced me back
Hope this helps in some way.

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J.T.

answers from Detroit on

Maybe if you did some research on the subject to show your husband scientific studies on how serious this disease is, he will be more likely to allow the medications. On the other hand, a lot of times ADD is overly diagnosed. So another suggestion would be to take your son to another doctor to get a second opinion. Chances are, if two or more doctors say the same thing, your husband will be more apt to allow the medications. Narcotics get a lot of bad attention but the truth is that when used properly they are very affective. Most likely, if your son actually does have ADD, he will grow out of it by adulthood or even as a teenager. But it is too risky to not allow him the medication that will make his childhood a "normal" one. Hope everything goes well for you!

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Y.M.

answers from Lansing on

Hi, I'm a mother of 3. My husband and I used to be den leaders for 9 boys. All had ADD but my so 8 really but what we had to do was just keep them busy whole time if not they would get out of hand. So like they need a routine really. I know it's hard but getting him a routine from the moment he wakes up. He needs to know what to expect. That's what my husband and I learned in our class. I know that seems so easy for me to say because we had our 8boys in our den for like 2 hours and u live with ur son. But this is just something i learned and wanted to pass on to you when i read your story. I can kinda understand what some parents go through now. Hopefully this can help you out a bit. God bless you and yours

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L.K.

answers from Detroit on

My 9 year old stepson was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and he is taking medication. A couple of books I would recommend would be "Driven to Distraction" and "Answers to Distraction," by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey. These books have been very helpful and informative for my husband and me.

As far as medication goes, in doses for ADHD, the controlled substances have not been shown to be addictive. The reason they are controlled is because there is a potential for dependence when used in higher doses to obtain a high.

Also, kids with ADHD tend to have addictive tendencies, and if not medicated, they tend to self-medicate as teenagers and adults with alcohol and other drugs.

I understand your and your husband's reluctance to use medication for ADHD, and hope that you can work together and with your son's doctors to develop a plan for treatment.

Good Luck.

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P.R.

answers from Saginaw on

From what I understand (and I may be mistaken), ADHD drugs, while they are prescription, are not narcotics? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcotic

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N.W.

answers from Detroit on

I think you, your husband and the pediatrian need to meet. Ideally your son would not be on meds, but if he really really needs them, he should get them. Maybe coming from the dr. who can explain the pros and cons, your husband will come around.