Nathan has Asperger’s and ADHD. He has a dual diagnosis. Every day he struggles with both. Correction, every day we struggle with both. There are times when the ADHD takes over and he doesn’t appear to have any problems. He will look and act like most 10 year old boys.
There is a combination of methods that we use to help him get to be in that zone. Role modelling, therapy, social skills work, building a sense of humor and a good sense of self and medication. He’s been on a stimulant for about 3 years now. Concerta XR has been his main medication for his ADHD and it has been a huge help for him.
I work with kids for a living and one of the things that helps me help the kids is asking parents about what their kids need. Do they have an allergy? Do they hate the sound of ripping paper? Are they on any meds?
And not just about the meds, but what kind of med is it? What is it used for? Does the child have a diagnosis? These questions give me more leverage to help the child through a camp or afterschool day.
The one thing I’m noticing is how much methylphenidate is being prescribed for kids with ADHD. It seems to be the drug of choice lately. I looked further and saw that there are a variety of names for methylphenidate. Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Focalin. All different derivatives of methylphenidate. I was under the impression that Concerta was a different kind of stimulant, not Ritalin. Ritalin still has a negative connotation. There is a stigma attached to it from back in the early 90’s when the perception was that children were being prescribed it like candy, to keep kids quiet and docile. Now, the focus is on kids shouldn’t be on Ritalin, that it’s used as a crutch, it’s over prescribed, kids are abusing it to get ahead in school, etc.
The situation is, yes, all of those things are true. There are SOME kids who fall into that category, which is a small one. And this percentage is the group that gets the most negative press, makes the most headlines and puts parents in a froth over what to do with their ADHD child.
There is no perfect combination of methods that will work with every child. Not every medication will work. Not every therapy will work. It’s a difficult puzzle to figure out, one that can take years, and may have side effects, sometimes serious. It can be daunting and down right scary to parents, which puts them in a place of deep fear to do the right thing for their children.
My best advice is to be informed. Read as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. Take your instincts with you along the way. Ask your doctor, therapist, and teachers questions. You are your child’s first line of defense.
What are your stories of this road of medication? What has worked? What hasn’t? Do you find your kids are made fun of because they’re on stimulants? What side effects have you encountered? I would love to hear your stories and comments.