ADHD and Medications

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. 
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Amy Sheridan

0 thoughts on “ADHD and Medications

  • August 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with vmgillen, we need to watch out not only our children’s welfare but also how pharmaceutical marketing shapes our economy as well.

  • August 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    ADHD is THE textbook example of the power of pharmaceutical marketing in introductory medical sociology courses. I say, be very, very careful with this… In addition, back in the early years of the autism tsunami, ASD was often mis-diagnosed as ADHD… One thing several decades of parenting “extra-ordinary” children has taught me: never lose sight of the economic implications. Twenty years ago ADD (now ADHA) was the diagnosis du jour – insurance companies paid for medications, agencies paid to train their staff, researchers were practically guaranteed funding… we see the same situation now, with autism. BTW, the American Psych Assoc, creators of the DSM, contribute significantly to shaping these dialogues.

  • August 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    @aspergerninja – Gotcha. I’ve found that dealing with Spencer’s ADHD is actually more difficult than dealing with Xander’s autism. A good friend of mine has two children that both have ADHD and Asperger’s. Her daughter’s ADHD has been much easier to handle than her son’s. They’ve spent years trying to find the right medications for him. She says his Asperger’s is much easier to deal with than his ADHD as well.

  • August 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    @Happy13 – The point I was going for was that I thought all the stimulants were different types of stimulants, not a similar stimulant. The amphetamine and methylphenidate are different, but have similar chemical make up. I was thinking that Concerta was a special type of stimulant and wasn’t ritalin, but it is.

    Nate’s ADHD overshadows his Asperger’s sometimes, so it’s the more dominant diagnosis, so the stimulants are in order. His doctors feel that he will be able to come off the stimulants, too, in time.   Thank you so much for sharing your story. 

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I thought Adderall was a mixture of amphetamine salts, not a methylphenidate. I know they work similarly but I think they have different chemical make-ups. 

    My 6yr old has ADHD and we put him on the lowest dose of Adderall XR. We’ve been very happy with the results thus far. He knows what the medication is for and understands that he has ADHD. He tells us he feels hyper in his head without the medication. I feel a little guilty that we resisted it for so long. We talk about ADHD and taking medication openly without stigma attached. There’s nothing wrong with him having ADHD just like there’s nothing wrong with him having blue eyes. It’s just a part of who he is. His doctor believes he’ll be able to control it without meds when he’s older and has more developed sense of impulse control.

     Our 9yr has autism but not ADHD. He had some aggression issues last school year. We started giving him GABA 250 twice a day and the change is amazing. Very happy to find a supplement that worked. We tried the GABA with our 6yr old before trying Adderall; unfortunately, it had no effect.


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