ADHD treatment includes both environmental changes and sometimes medications. Optimizing the school and home environment is critical to helping kids with ADHD. For example, placing a child in the front of the classroom, using agendas or checklists, and posting visual schedules at home can make a big difference. We will also help advocate for your child if they need special instruction or more time to complete tests.
We do not recommend any special vitamins or diets as there is no scientific evidence to support these in treating ADHD. We are happy to discuss any other ideas that parents have questions about, but keep in mind we want to keep your children safe, so unless there is evidence to support the use we don’t usually recommend “experimental” ideas.
What about medications?
If non-pharmacologic interventions don’t work, we are able to discuss medicine for ADHD as long the child doesn’t have co-existing issues that need medicine like depression, anxiety or OCD. Many ADHD medicines have been around more than 50 years, have been thoroughly studied and are safe and effective. Stimulants, (such as Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and Vyvanse …to name just a few) are often the first line of treatment. We always start with the very lowest dose and slowly work our way up until it is effective. The most common side effects are poor appetite at lunch and sometimes difficulty falling asleep. Most patients take one pill in the morning and that’s it for the day. Sometimes we must use short acting pills for certain patients, or if a teenager needs it to help them concentrate later in the day for things like driving or night time homework.
If a patient doesn’t like how they feel or a parent feels like their child’s personality has changed in any way at all, we would try a different medicine. Through proper communication with parents and teachers, we can usually find the correct dose within 3-6 weeks. We continually follow the patient’s progress with “med check” appointments, where we monitor vital signs like weight and height and discuss the child’s progress.
There are multiple studies that show ADHD medicines are non-addictive and DO NOT cause other drug use. In fact, studies show that teenagers whose ADHD is treated are LESS LIKELY to experiment with drug use—which makes total sense since they will be less impulsive!! Also, teens with untreated ADHD often have more motor vehicle accidents. When appropriate, treating ADHD symptoms allows children to better get along with friends, siblings and parents.
Sum It All Up
Treating ADHD, whether through environmental adjustments or medications, will help a child improve their self-esteem and success at school, home and social spheres. All the providers of Northside Pediatrics want to help your child be healthy and successful in everything they do, so if you have any concerns regarding your child, please contact us.