If this article is correct, ADHD is certainly overdiagnosed.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, we tried everything else before we stared a trial of medication to address our son's issues. As it turns out, this is what helped us, but there are things that can be done to address ADHD without medication.
Any parent out there who thinks they may have an ADHD child needs to educate him/herself about ADHD, the non-medical interventions for treatment of ADHD, the side effects of the medication, and THROUGHLY screen and test the child.
Over the years schools have been cutting back on physical education and recess in favor of the child sitting in a classroom. No child can sit without a break, and this is especially true about boys. Recess once a day and frequent breaks would be beneficial to the youngsters and help focus their attention in the classroom. And contrary to popular opinion, schools cannot demand that a child be put on medication!!
Find a good doctor to diagnose ADHD. There is a lengthy screening process, so a good doctor is not one who writes a prescription just because the parent demands it. There is an information-gathering procedure that is followed, and it takes weeks, not days, to do.
- The school staff is interviewed or fills out a questionnaire about the child;
- the parents also fill out a questionnaire.
- The doctor uses the interviews and questionnaires to evaluate the child before writing a prescription.
- During the medication trial, the child is monitored by the parent and doctor. Adjustments in dosage may have to be made or it may be necessary to change the drug prescribed.
- While the child is on medication, he/she will be required to have routine doctor's visits to ensure the child is receiving the benefit of the mediation and that the child is developing properly.
Side effects of ADHD medication:
besides the aforementioned effects in the NY Times article, your child will have to have his heart screened on a semi-regular basis;
also the child may have a hard time getting to sleep, and as such, may suffer from sleep deprivation;
the child may lose his/her appetite, and in an extreme case, may not grow due to lack of nutrition;
Advocate for your child: we found that on the wrong dose or medication, our son became agitated, and in the case of Adderall, became solitary and weird - we took him off that medication immediately.
Things to try before medication:
- Change in diet. Cut out junk foods and sugary sodas like potato chips, cheese doodles, and Sunny D or Coke.
- Sign up for a sport. Physical activity is great for an ADHD child. Karate, soccer, lacrosse, or cross-county running are great for kids!
- Vitamin supplements - try a supplement that may benefit your child. We are using MegaRed - it's like fish oil, which may help in brain development.
Advocate for your child and trust your gut feeling. Don't let anyone tell you your child is ADHD and needs medication unless there is a through evaluation from a qualified doctor. Make sure your child get lots of rest, exercise and eats healthy, but most of all - love your unique child!