Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Great Med Debate

My first child was diagnosed ADHD over 6 years ago now, but we also medicate or not to medicate that was the question... We already had a very structured home routine and my brother-in-law had been on Ritalin as a kid.  Therefore, my husband had many preconceived notions about it.  “No way are we medicating my kid!”
Like many others, we also tried to control the ADHD with diet.  It turned out that her triggers were dye, sugar, and dairy.  OK, so, doubled with the fact that she was already a very picky eater, it pretty much eliminated anything that she would eat.  Also, as a 7-year-old little girl, she felt absolutely deprived!  She was not wise enough to see the benefits in herself yet.  (Around age 10 she finally could.)
After about 3 month I convinced my husband to do a short trial of Concerta, two weeks.  It was brilliant!! It was our magic bullet, so to speak.  She was having terrible difficulty learning to read.  Her brain would not let her slow down to look at words carefully enough to read them.  At the end of the trial, the Special Education teacher sought me out to share her delight that reading has finally “clicked” for Courtney.  Yes, after just a two-week trial period.  My husband conceded that I might just be necessary.  After being medicated through the end of grade two and three, she actually caught up to her grade level peers!  There was no denying the success of the meds.
This is why over the years, when both of our other children were diagnosed we didn't hesitate to medicate.  We saw first hand that we did not turn our child into a "zombie", we allowed her to be her best self!  This is how I always put it to parents that ask me. (I am a grade two teacher so I do get asked a lot.)
  "You are not drugging your kid to make them sit still and be quiet.  You are medicating the disorder that does not allow them to be as successful as they might otherwise be.  You are preventing future school problems and potential failures.  You are doing your child a disservice by not at least giving them a trial of medication."
My favourite story of all in the great med debate is from when Courtney was at the beginning of grade five.  It was nearing the end of September and Courtney’s teacher was noticing that she wasn’t herself.  She had the same teacher for grade four, so I strongly trusted his judgement.  I thought that maybe it was finally time for a stronger dose of her meds.  She had been on the same dose since grade two, her initial trial dose.  I called the doctor and made the necessary changes.  The first day that Courtney came home from school on her new dose she hugged me and thanked me!!!  She said it was her best day ever!


  1. Hi Jenn, my first time to your blog - I came over via Kari's. My adopted daughter was diagnosed with ADHD (amongst others) at around nine, and we tried a myriad of other approaches, mainly because I felt that trauma and insecure attachment
    were really the crux of her difficulties. Then in highschool, at twelve, she started doing quite poorly and we gave ritalin a go - and have never looked back. She herself told us that at last she could slow down her brain enough to listen and think. At sixteen she is doing really well (except for the month when she trialled no meds...just to see, and quickly went back onto them) We also trialled ritalin with our son who has FASD, but saw no change unfortunately. I now recommend to others to give the meds a try.

  2. Both of my girls are diagnosed FASD and both take Concerta for their ADHD well for them.