View Full Version : For Lakshmi Thread on ADHD medications, do you or don't you?

03-15-2012, 05:31 PM
I thought I would start this one because it is something that is part of my life and has been for a year now. My ds6 was diagnosed last year with ADHD, which explained his inability to do preschool and the huge problems he was having in kindergarten. The schools of course want the diagnosis so you can medicate, so they can have control. I can see their point I suppose. A teacher with 25 kids simply cannot tailor to the needs of an incredibly active, talkative, very physical child. So off we went to get a prescription and the multiple months of trying to get the dose just right and find the balance between hyper and zombie.

I was so unhappy because he was losing so much weight and the little sparkle was gone from his eyes. But there was no recourse, he had to be on medication to be in school. It never occurred to me at that point to homeschool. In fact, I have a hard time remembering what sparked the idea in my head that I could do that, but as soon as the seed was planted, it was like Jack's Beanstalk and grew overnight into THE answer. Two months into a disastrous 1rst grade year, we brought him home.

And since then we've been able to cut his medication back off of extended release to short acting, and more than half the dosage. He is still a very hyper very unfocused boy and he really needs his medication to school so we always take that an hour before starting school for the day. But now, he gets to eat, since we can leisurely get up and fix breakfast when he gets hungry, work lunch around his medication (or just wait for it to wear off). He's put on weight and looks like a normal kid now. And at home, he can continue to be just a little bit hyper. He likes to run around between lessons and stands up or does jumping jacks during flash-cards, etc.

Anyway, this has gotten long, but I wanted to hear other parents experiences with ADHD and medication, and how homeschooling has fit or helped with your overall care for your child! thanks!!

03-15-2012, 05:56 PM
We very reluctantly tried ADHD meds. The stimulants wound her up, the non-stimulants turned her into someone we didn't recognize. :( So, we dropped the meds. We keep on using timers and lists and all of it. It's an uphill battle but the drugs didn't do their thing for dd. I know some families who had amazing success. It's all very trial and error, which is one of the most frustrating parts of all of this.

As far as other meds go... We started Prozac in November and it's been like night and day. She doesn't tantrum anymore. It's amazing. The aggression (both physical and verbal) didn't disappear but she is much, much calmer and happier. She doesn't say she hates herself anymore. She's on a very low dose, and her pediatrician is content to have her hang out there. Her (soon-to-be-former) psychiatrist keeps pushing to try different things and to up dosages, but I'm sticking the "titrate to effect" approach our ped is advocating.

Homeschooling has allowed us the luxury to try things on our own, and on our own timetable. It's not perfect, and we have a lot of hard days, but I cannot picture what life in school would be like for her. It wouldn't be pretty.

03-15-2012, 10:20 PM
Orion's teachers kept pushing for adhd meds. he started on some SSRI's (first prozac, but that didnt stop the panic attacks, so then celexxa), which helped a lot esp with sleep and anxiety, but they still wanted him on adhd meds. I was resisting in general, but esp because he had tics, and most adhd meds (at least then, 6 years ago) aggravated tics. So his psychiatrist tried a very low dose of risperdone, which was not then but is now approved for disruptive activities in kids on the autism spectrum. it did help him stop getting out of his seat and saying random weird things. It also helped him stop insisting that any time anything bad happened, someone had done it to him on purpose. within 2 months, he was playing with other kids in the neighborhood. i mean, not all of them and not all the time, but a few occasionally, which was a huge improvement!

more recently, i had several friends with adhd kids say that caffeine worked wonders for their adhd kids. so we decided to try it. We tried a cup of tea, and within 20 minutes, his tics were so bad he couldnt do anything, and his anxiety was spiking as well. so we havent tried since, and i feel good about my choice to avoid the adhd meds.

of course, the meds he IS on are much stronger and have much WORSE side effects, but they seemed like they addresed a problem he was having, not a problem the school was having. He generally can sit down and do work, as long as there is something to do. sitting and listening or watching is harder, but thats ok with me.

03-15-2012, 10:36 PM
When DS was in kindergarten and newly diagnosed with ADHD combined type and Asperger's Syndrome, his teacher suggested that he might need some medication. With reluctance (but also with the realization that he was even more awful at home than he was at school), we tried it. We went with Strattera first, thinking that a nonstimulant might do the trick, but it did precisely nothing. Then we tried Focalin XR, and it helped quite a bit... until it wore off. Once it wore off, he was a raging maniac. Finally we tried Vyvanse, and it was beautiful. I had never seen my child be my child like that before. I had always known that the potential was there, but it had never been able to come out. I had a lot of guilt when that happened, and I spent a lot of time in tears because I felt like I'd been holding him back.

However, I also felt bad medicating him, so when we brought him home, I took him off the meds. He did okay for a while, but we would struggle every now and then. Caffeine does help him, but his metabolism is SO fast that a huge cup of coffee will last an hour, maybe two, and I didn't want to keep him hopped up on sugar-laden drinks all day long. We kept plowing through and working on various techniques that might help him, but nothing lasted. Sometime last spring, he finally hit a wall. He was getting to some tougher concepts in a few of his curricula, and he simply couldn't retain them. I would teach him about a topic, and he'd struggle through a page and feel like he got it, but the next day he wouldn't remember a thing... or worse, would have regressed even further. He would spend an hour a day in tears no matter how little work I demanded of him because he simply couldn't function. So I called the doctor and had him put back on the Vyvanse... and our entire household breathed a giant sigh of relief. We hadn't realized how high his frustration level had really been and how much it had been affecting all of us. It was glorious. But then he started losing weight. He's never been a heavy kid, but on the Vyvanse, he was a stick. One of the managers at his swim school didn't even recognize him because he'd gotten so thin. He's also very tall for his age, and I worried that the Vyvanse might be inhibiting his growth, so we went back to his doctor and asked about alternatives. She started him on Intuniv (which wasn't out when we did the meds the first time), and it works pretty well. He put back on the weight (he's currently eating and sleeping like there's no tomorrow and has grown at least 1.5" since Christmas), and he looks healthy. The biggest difference that I see between them is that the Vyvanse controlled him so well that he didn't need to work on making any improvements; the Intuniv gives him the ability to make improvements but doesn't do it for him.

Obviously each kid is different. This is what works for us right now. Would I love to get him off the meds? Absolutely. But it ain't gonna happen any time soon. As much as I'd love to avoid them, medication is something that he really does need to function. We'll see what happens when he hits puberty, though... supposedly that can change the whole ball game.

03-15-2012, 10:41 PM
DD is undiagnosed and unmedicated at this point in the game. I believe that she has a combo of Aspergers/ADD/ADHD, just like myself. I give her coffee throughout the day B/F 5:00 PM and she actually sleeps.

03-15-2012, 11:08 PM
thanks for the that esp. Ms. LOL....

Are there any grownups taking it? I was noticing that as I've cut back on caffeine I am having a hellava time concentrating. I've got a tentative ADHD dx... but really what is there to do about it besides meds. .. so i never did anything BUT... now .... i'm noticing how i cant think...

03-16-2012, 08:47 AM
My son was diagnosed with ADHD in April of his kindergarten year (at public school). He was having serious problems with impulse control and paying attention. We used the regular release Ritalin first and found (like Sarah's son) that he has a really fast metabolism and it wore off in a couple hours. We tried the extended release, but it only lasted another hour or so and he still needed a second dose after lunch. Meanwhile, he was starting to lose weight and had trouble falling asleep at night. We had pretty much decided to homeschool him for first grade. He went off the meds as soon as kindergarten was done. I always felt that we could deal at home, where he had more freedom to be his crazy, loud self.

It became apparent after a few months that although he was doing okay at home and for school work, his behavior at outside activities were sliding towards disastrous. We had to drop out of a science co-op because he wouldn't sit through the lesson, then got totally out of control when playing with the other kids. He was getting in trouble at his swimming and karate lessons, too. We have learned that being with groups of kids makes him so overstimulated that he loses all impulse control. Add that to the fact that he is lacking in appropriate social skills (we strongly suspect ASD) and I decided that returning to the meds for those activities is the only way he could participate. He takes 10mg of Ritalin (regular release) an hour before his classes. We are careful to make sure he eats a good snack before he takes it and wait until it wears off for a meal (otherwise he's not very hungry). He also can't take it after 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon or it will keep him awake at night.

He needs me to sit with him for all his school work, but that's working out for now. As Sarah said, it will be interesting to see when and if he will be capable of working independently on more advanced material. I am so dreading puberty...

03-16-2012, 10:18 AM
DS13 was officially diagnosed with ADD when he was 10. He was put on a low dose of Concerta which helped him focus and helped him control his impulses. He was not perfect on it and teachers still had a lot of complaints. He became really thin and he was very short. He also started having tics. When he turned 12 the Dr. became concerned with the tics and took him off the Concerta and told us to try Strattera. I was afraid to try the Strattera because I had read some scary things about it, so we let him go med free for 7th grade. He was less and less focused and teachers refused to try different techniques to help him. He also had very few friends. He was bullied, depressed, and by the end of the year his self esteem was so low that he said he wished he were dead. He started having anxiety attacks. We put him on the Strattera in June of last year. It does not work right away...it takes several weeks to build up in your system. We were patient and we waited and it has helped him a lot. I think it mostly helps with his anxiety. He is able to focus better and he is less impulsive. He is no longer depressed and he no longer hates himself. He still struggles socially, but that is due to the trauma of being bullied in PS...he just has a hard time trusting other kids. HS combined with the Straterra has given me my kid back. He laughs and jokes again. He hangs out with us (instead of hiding away in his room). He is going through puberty right now but I honestly don't notice any problems (other than what's expected from any kid going through it). He has gained weight (though he is still too skinny) and has grown 7 inches since he turned 12. I can write out his work for the day on a white board and he will sit and complete it. Even more important...if he does something wrong and I ask him to correct it he doesn't throw a tantrum over it like he did last year! He loves working at his own pace (and no one yells at him if he fidgets) and he loves having more time to persue his interests (instead of spending all of his free time doing homework). Maybe someday he can go med free again...but for now it is working for him.

Lakshmi - I have an adult cousin who takes Adderall for her ADHD and she says it really helps her to focus and keep her mind on her work (she is a school psychologist). She hasn't noticed any side effects. She did say that she eventually wants to switch to Strattera because Strattera is a non stimulant and is not addictive. Different meds work differently for each person.

03-16-2012, 11:38 AM
It's amazing, the differences. Strattera was awful for us. Dd turned into a zombie, crying, staring, saying things like "I'm miserable and I don't know why" and "I just don't want to live like this". We dropped it FAST.

I have been diagnosed with inattentive type. I tried Concerta myself and it was interesting, to say the least. I didn't notice any change in focus, but boy, I was busy! Motor mouth, pounding heart, and non-stop action. I am sensitive to caffeine, too, and have life long issues with anxiety, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised. We talked about trying Strattera, but after dd's experience I wasn't keen on the idea. So, SSRIs for me and dd.

I am also waiting on puberty (and for myself, menopause) to see what shakes loose. :/ We'll be hitting that point at about the same time. Lucky dh, eh?

03-16-2012, 11:49 AM
After my son was diagnosed with ADHD, my husband decided he had it too. And sure enough he did. He takes ritalin and it really helps him focus at work. My son does well on ritalin, but focalin allows him to eat more.

03-16-2012, 01:04 PM
I took Adderall on and off from sophomore year of high school until I was 30, but it got to a point where I was having to up the dose repeatedly to get it to work and I was having major side effects. I took no meds for almost a year and it was a disaster so I tried Stratterra and it was horrible. It made me anxious, moody, and horribly constipated. (TMI I know, but seriously, it was bad!!) I know take wellbutrin and supplement that with 5 hour energies and a lot of coffee.

Ds started with Vyvanse, and then his insurance decided not to cover it anymore without trying other meds first. so we started trialing other stimulants. Concerta worked until it wore off and then he was a raging tyrant. Focalin didn't work at all and made him cry all the time. Regular release Adderral was fine except it only lasted about 3 hours and then he was back to totally unfocused.

I was so relieved to be able to go back to Vyvanse for him. It works wonderfully, without any real side effects.

I make sure to give him a big breakfast of eggs and fruit and maybe an english muffin or thin bagel. Then for lunch he eats yogurt, or lunch meat and cheese, or a slimfast/carnation drink. Mandarin oranges and apples work well too. The biggest issue with him is chewing, and dry texture so I try to provide food that goes down easily. He is usually starving by about 5:30 so he has another big snack then and then dinner is later. We eat dinner kind of late due to DH weird schedule and us being night owls.

03-16-2012, 02:31 PM
Thanks all, it is a good place to start learning about it!

03-16-2012, 02:39 PM
B1 is on intuniv which helps him get through the "boring" stuff (which is anything he doesn't want to do). We started because when he hit puberty the tantrums got worse and it was try meds or try school and where we were school would have been infinitely worse. I suspect he doesn't take the meds when he's w/daddyo, but daddyo also doesn't put him under any stress so he (daddyo) thinks I'm making this all up. We'll see what happens next year when he transitions to school.

I'm tempted to try the stuff myself.

03-16-2012, 04:37 PM
My son wasn't diagnosed with anything until I brought him home after PS. Oh - that was the problem! Well, it wasn't the only problem, but that's beside the point.

Tried concerta, worked at first, but then he built up a tolerance really quickly and so we started shopping around. Vyvanse isn't covered by our insurance, and because I knew the chemistry behind it, it didn't make sense to pay so much when there are very similar meds on the market. Went with Adderol XR but he wasn't sleeping or eating. Switched to Intuniv and then he did nothing BUT sleep. Total zombie. We have settled with quick release adderol in the morning, 5mg, with an option to take another 5mg before 1pm if he needs more focus time for school, Intuniv at night, and a cycle of melatonin, usually 4 weeks on, 4 days off, also at night (which is really the only time you should ever take melatonin!)

I do want to say that while I know my son very well and believe that we're not just taking the easy road with the meds, I did try the gluten free, dairy free, food coloring free, extremely restricted diet. He already has dietary limitations because of lower GI issues, but we went for 6 weeks with the total package - or rather completely unpackaged - and it did not help. There is a chemical imbalance in his brain. Yes, caffeine helps, but right now we have a great balance with his prescriptions that work wonders.

On the flip side, if Matthew's attention and behavioral issues were addressed by any other means (and we've tried several), I wouldn't hesitate to take him off the meds. If I could reliably get him away from them and still have him able to focus and not freak out, I would.

03-16-2012, 05:42 PM
Have you tried diet? My 4 year old boy was an emotional and physical mess of a boy. He would get worked up over anything. We were reluctant to try meds so we did some research and found the Feingold diet. We avoid artificial colors and preservatives and some foods that contain salicylic acids. We found my sons biggest trigger to be brown sugar and molasses, if he has even the smallest bit, he is a screaming, wrestling, emotional mess. Since starting the diet, his attention span, moods and overall health has just gotten better.

speech mom
03-16-2012, 09:17 PM
My DS was diagnosed ADHD in November. We are still fighting the insurance company to get them to cover the Vyvanse. He has ticks and trouble maintaining weight, so the doctor had many, many drugs he did not want to try. The insurance company like the cheap drugs, regardless of whether the nice man who went to medical school finds them dangerous. So we continue to fight them. The boy and I have spent a lot of time talking about it and he is actually doing better now that he is aware of what is going on with him. We also have had success with a really small amount of Mt. Dew before working.

My DH has been on concerta for a few years. His mom was PISSED at me for putting him on it. He has to have it to function at work.

MY older daughter has ADD, undiagnosed, but we both know she has it. She has done a lot of research on her own and is trying to manage it with diet and exercise. Hormones are making that a challenge for her.

03-17-2012, 12:33 PM
Thanks everyone for contributing to this thread! I find it very helpful, as someone just starting this journey with my son. :)

03-17-2012, 05:26 PM
Are there any grownups taking it? I was noticing that as I've cut back on caffeine I am having a hellava time concentrating. I've got a tentative ADHD dx... but really what is there to do about it besides meds. .. so i never did anything BUT... now .... i'm noticing how i cant think...

My husband takes Adderal (was on Ritalin). When he stopped drinking any caffeine for health reasons his med dosage stopped working. They upped his dosage/changed meds till the found what worked. The caffeine was helping control his ADHD.

03-17-2012, 08:20 PM
actually, i have to admit i used to find sudaphed really helped me focus . . . i was searching on line for anyone else finding that to be true, and i found some adult adhd forums. but that was the old sudaphed, the one you have to sign for now. I finally stopped taking it because it was making my anxiety too high. I did wonder, then, if i should try asking for something for it . . .but i hate doctors, they are always so patronizing. I usually just deal.