Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stimulating Conversation

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. 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. 


  1. Darin started on Focalin XR and did beautifully on it. As he got older, the strength seemed to weaken so his psychiatrist thought we should increase the dosage to see how he handled it.

    It was terrible. In that two week span, a minor increase of 5 mg sent my loving, empathetic child into a tailspin of despair and depression. Darin is borderline bi-polar as well as ADD and that minimal increase turned his bi-polar into a rampage.

    The decision was made to keep him in the Ritalin family but to try Vyvanse and within a few days I had my sweet boy back.

    We chose the extended release family so that he could have the benefit of focusing during the day to help him with school and activities but he also needs to learn to work with his behavior when the focus wears off - at night, afterschool and right when mom gets home :)

    It's certainly a struggle but we are blessed to have a wonderful doctor to work with.

    Love you!

  2. I love you, too!

    I think that there is the misconception that medication will "fix" or "remove" all symptoms, and that is not the case. Also, that the meds will turn ALL kids into raving lunatics or zombies. It's these wide swathes of opinion that doesn't get to the nooks and crannies of the issues.

    I agree with him learning on how to deal with his behaviors when he gets home, or even at school when it starts to wear off. Nate had problems with this at school, right at the end of the day and the teacher was having him sit and wait. Yeah, sit and wait. LOL!

    Nate does very well on his meds, and we're lucky that we've found something that works and with very minimal side effects. I am so glad that Darin has found a combo that works and you're not ripping your hair out. :D

  3. thanks for sharing.