Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a behavioral disorder wherein a child has difficulties concentrating, paying attention, sitting still or focusing on details. According to the CDC, it is estimated that about 5% of American children aged 6-12 are diagnosed with ADHD and boys make up about 75% of cases.
There is a growing number of children that are being medicated for ADHD. If you are one of the millions of American families living with a child with ADHD, it can be a difficult choice to make. On one hand, you want to help your child calm down and fit in better socially, but on the other, you may have legitimate concerns about drug misuse and dependency.
Here’s how to tell whether to medicate your child for ADHD.
- Get a second opinion. If your child is diagnosed and the doctor recommends medication, consult other doctors first. Opinions vary in the medical community so check your options before proceeding with a course of treatment. It is your medical right to ask for referrals or to discuss options with other medical professionals, especially when it comes to the health and well being of your child.
- Do your research. As with any disease or disorder, there is a vast amount of information available, as well as various treatment options. Try to contact other parents of children living with ADHD and see what worked for them. Also, research any long term studies done on the drugs prescribed. The most common in the market are Ritalin, Vyvanse and Concerta.
- Have realistic expectation of drugs. Only about 25% of the symptoms relating to ADHD can be helped using medication, mostly those relating to helping a child focus so he can do his schoolwork. Do not expect all behavioral problems to go away. You will still need to enable your child to function socially by using therapy and making his environment as conducive as possible.
- Try alternative treatments first. Unless a condition is life threatening or can cause severe disfigurement, approach any disorder by using the mildest forms of treatment first. Make changes in your child’s diet, as well as trying out homeopathic medication or other types of supplements. How about rechanneling your child’s energies into sports or other activities? Perhaps he needs a tutor wherein he can do his studies in a one on one environment.
- Observe how severe the condition is and how it is affecting your child’s well being. If your child is starting to have self esteem issues, is unable to socialize properly at school or is being labeled as too disruptive at school, medication may help.
- See how his ADHD is affecting his performance at school. If your child isn’t doing well at school because of his inability to focus or concentrate, you may want to consider medication. It may be a better option to put him on medication instead of watching him fail and develop distaste for learning.
Choosing to medicate your child for ADHD is a personal decision you will need to make based on your own research, the recommendations of your pediatrician and other specialists, and ultimately, your own instincts. You as a parent will know what is best for your child.