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I have a 10 YO DD with ADHD. She was diagnosed in 1st grade. While she was working above grade level in math, she was having some issues with reading and major issues with classroom behavior. To the point that other kids didn't like playing with her or having her in their group in the classroom and so her self esteem was really slipping. And that was what helped us decide to have her take medication. We did try some homeopathic options first, at the recommendation of the child psychiatrist that helped make the diagnosis. We were really comfortable with her and loved her slow approach to medications. Then we tried some simple, fast acting options to see how that impacted her and it was like getting a new child. From there we went to a long-action medication so she only takes one all day. At no point did we see a change in her personality, but definitely did in her behavior. I confess that her constant talking/singing/jumping drove me to distraction and I was so grateful when she could sit and talk to me! Her reading increased 2 grade levels in 2 months. Her teacher described it as "reducing the noise in her brain and allowing her to concentrate." And she was less bossy and demanding with the kids in her class, and less disruptive with their learning, so suddenly she had friends.

So, for us the medication was a great thing. If we could have gotten to the same result without medication, I would certainly have done it. And we tried some of the behavior modification techniques that her doctor recommended, but they had no impact. I know that she feels like we made the right decision because now, 4 years later, she will ask for her medication if we forget. Even at 6 she would say that she felt better with the medication. For me, that meant a lot and validated our decisions.

I think the key is finding a doctor that you trust and very open communication with her classroom teacher. And the ability to communicate with her teacher would factor into school choices in a big way. And if you decide to go the non-medicated route, you will need to make sure that the school is supportive of that and will implement whatever other actions you take or programs you want to try. Kids are at school so long that whatever you do needs to be transferable.
 

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Originally Posted by Letitia View Post

Thanks all for the replies.

I guess I made the original post sound more anti-medication than I meant to. I don't want to jump right to that route, but I couldn't say we wouldn't ever try it. I have concerns about it. I worry, "Oh no, she's going to think there's something wrong with her if we tell her she has to take medicine." I so much don't want her to label herself, or for other people to label her. And ultimately, she's going to have to learn how to manage herself the best she can. I don't want to do something to address the current problems that doesn't help her build for the future. Not that medication would mean that she can't do that, I just hate that the meds are the first thing I ever hear about. How do kids learn to deal with it and become productive adults? Where does a family get information about learning other strategies?
I think it definitely helps to try non-medication answers first. There are lots of threads under the parenting w/ special needs sub-forum that give ideas of what other families have tried and what sorts of results they experienced. I would definitely recommend reading a few of them to see what you want to try. It also pays to shop around for a doctor who will support trying things other than meds first. I was SO glad to have a psychiatrist that wouldn't prescribe meds until we had tried non-med options first.

I think some of your other concerns might be a bit premature, though. I know that my DD knew that she was having more trouble with some parts of being in school than her classmates -- she was really relieved when she could put a name and a cause behind it. Not so much "something is wrong with me", but more "there is a medical reason that I do X. It's not because I'm stupid or lazy or my parents don't believe in discipline." (Unfortunately all things that other kids said to her in K and 1st grade. Ugh.) Since I regularly take asthma medication, she could look at this the same way -- prevention for a bigger problem.

I don't know if DD will choose to remain on meds through her teenage and adult years - that will be up to her. I've known people to do both. And I have a couple of friends who would probably find life much easier and be more successful if they had continued with their medication into adulthood. More and more people are doing so at this point -- it's not "just a kid's issue" anymore. If she chooses to change, reduce or eliminate the meds as she gets older, that will be up to her. Her body, her choice. I am confident that she will have more coping skills, more options and more information as a teen or adult than she did as a 6 year old. As a young child, she was just learning more self-control and expected behavior, especially in the classroom. As a, say, 16 year old, she will be far beyond that stage and able to implement more independent strategies if she chooses. At 6 she didn't really have any control over how much exercise she got each day or what she was served for lunch or how many hours of class she could take in a day. In high school, college or adulthood she can control much more of her environment and can choose to transition off meds with many more coping strategies.

Which is not to say that I believe that meds are the only solution or that all children with ADHD should take meds. Merely providing reassurance that, if you do choose or need to go that route, it doesn't need to be a negative thing and could be quite positive for your child and family.
 
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