Giving my ADHD Kid Medication was the Best Thing I Ever Did for Him

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When my son was in Kindergarten, we started him on ADHD medication and it was the best thing for him, for us, and for his schooling.

The ADHD medication allowed his true self to come out. It allows him to be the best version of himself, bringing his life in to focus like finding the right prescription lenses. My son has more confidence now. He’s less frustrated, less angry, and is able to participate in extracurriculars and explore his interests.

But let’s back up. To life before ADHD medication. If I had a dollar for every time I told him, “Look with your eyes, not with your hands,” at stores I would be a very rich person. He COULD NOT stop himself from touching everything that looked interesting to him. And yes, there were **people** who tried to tell me this was normal behavior for a 3-4 year old, and yes, to do this occasionally is normal behavior. But I’d had a 3-4 year old before and I’ve had once since and this was much more than that. We couldn’t take him out to eat without him being THAT KID at the restaurant.

my son with ADHD, age 4

And then when “real school” started, he could not finish assignments, could not sit for circle time (which is maybe 5-10 minutes),  just in general couldn’t be in a classroom without frustrating everyone around him, including, most importantly, himself. And this is the crux of the matter, he WANTED to participate. He wanted to learn. He wanted to be able to complete journal assignments, etc. He wanted to be able to have control over his body and actions.

So we took him to our pediatrician. We have one of those great, pretty old school doctors. Been around forever, knows all the things, etc. But he was known as being pretty anti-ADHD medication. (More on that later.) But he spent 10 minutes in a small exam room with my son and immediately prescribed medication for him.

my son, age 5

And you know what, because of how ADHD medication works, the VERY NEXT DAY, he came home and told me that he was the first kid in his class to finish his journal. He was so proud of himself!

He’s in third grade now, made it through a pandemic, and though his exact types of medications have been changed around a few times, he’s thriving and happy. Occasionally, he’ll forget to take his medicine in the morning (because ADHD), and it’s very apparent. Usually I’ll get a call within the first hour or two of school to bring it to him.

I’m going to be honest here. I’ve heard all the stuff about ADHD medication changing a kid’s personality. Or making them seem like they are constantly in a drug-induced stupor. And maybe that was the case when ADHD medication first came out, but that was not at all our experience.

still the same kid with ADHD but much happier

In fact, I think the opposite happened.

If you are at all hesitant about trying ADHD medication because there is still just a stupid stigma attached to it, please try it. The results are basically instantaneous and you can easily tell if it is helping or not. And don’t be afraid to try different medicines if the first one isn’t going well. They are fast acting and out of your child’s system within a few hours, so it’s pretty easy to tell if something is working or not. My son was on a short acting stimulant at first, moved to an extended release, then we tried a non stimulant (yes, they have those now), before landing on a nice combination of non stimulant and a lower dose of a stimulant (lack of appetite and sleep issues are some pretty common side effects you have to sometimes work around).

my son last summer at the beach

You will become besties with your pediatrician/psychiatrist/psychologist that prescribes the medication because it must be called in every month. And insurance doesn’t let you call it in early. It’s a whole production because it’s a controlled substance.

But whatever hoops you have to jump through are worth it for your child to be the best version of themselves. Why would you not want that for them?

Resources:

ADHD Dude: I really like this guy. He’s down to Earth, knows what he is talking about, and has videos for both parents AND KIDS.

Mayo ClinicI really appreciate when medical information is given in a no-nonsense, easy to read way, so I really like their website. If you are wondering what the signs are for ADHD, this is a good place to start. There are three subtypes of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and then a combination of the two. My son is definitely the combo type. But this resource will tell you all about them.

MMC Articles: For a helpful guide written by a therapist, see this article. And for a story from a mom who refused ADHD medication until her child was in fourth grade, see this article.

Tik Tok: Hear me out on this one. There are some great creators out there making videos about ADHD. And their experience having it. If you want to go straight to the source and listen to adults tell you about it, this is a great place to start.

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Crady is a native Memphian, but she left for twelve years only to return at the end of June 2016. She is wife to Brad, who is a pediatrician in the ER at LeBonheur. Together, they have three children: Cooper (August 2010), Semmes (March 2013), and Katherine Cobb (September 2016). Cooper has special needs, so she is constantly balancing being a special needs mom and a typical mom. She lives with her family in Central Gardens, where she spends her days wrangling children and trying to limit screen time. She loves vacations, book clubs, dinners with friends, and a hoppy IPA at the end of the day. She hates kids’ TV shows, people who park in handicap spots when they aren’t handicapped, and tomatoes.

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