by Kimberly Allen R.N.
My son, whom I’ll call Sam, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5 years old. As a nurse and mother I was very hesitant to simply agree to medicating my son just because some teachers complained and his pediatrician said I should. I also had him evaluated by 2 other child psychologists. In the end they all came tto the same conclusion of ADHD so I agreed to the medication. The pediatrician started Sam on Ritilan. That was the drug of choice in the ‘80’s. It turned my funny, energetic son into a zombie. When I mentioned the problem to Sam’s pediatrician she was unconcerned. She wanted to know how long the effects of the medication lasted and even suggested increasing the dose. This concerned me so I spoke with my GP (general practitioner) about my concerns. I made an appt for him to evaluate Sam. My GP was sensitive to my concerns and changed his medication. The difference was nothing short of amazing.
I did not like having to medicate my son anymore than he liked having to take the medicine. He would have to go to the nurses office at school at lunch time to get it and the other kids knew it. Because of the stigma associated with having to take medication Sam would frequently ‘forget’ to go and take it. That lead to problems in the classroom in the afternoon and phone calls from the teachers. Instead of taking the “you have to take them because the Dr said” approach I decided to involve Sam in his care.
First I sat with him and explained why the Dr had prescribed medication for him. I tried to explain ADHD in very basic terms, stressing that it’s a disease caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and not his fault. Included in the discussion was impulse control. In terms he could understand I explained what impulse control is and it’s importance. Together we agreed that he would not have to take the medicine on weekends and vacations unless there was an activity planned or a problem.
As impulse and self control are the biggest problems with ADHD I decided to enroll Sam in karate and encouraged team sports. Karate teaches selfdiscilpine in a class setting with other children. Team sports have many benefits including learning selfdiscpline and how to work together with others. It also is a great outlet for all that extra energy they have. In both these activities they are learning with other children so they don’t feel singled out.
Most children with ADHD are very bright, but because they become bored easily they are mislabled as trouble makers.
It’s important to maintain contact with the teachers and to work as a team, it’s also important to include the child as part of the team, especially as they get older. You’ll be amazed by just how much more successful treating ADHD is if the child is allowed to participate in their care. By the time Sam reached high school he had a very good understanding ADHD and had done well teaching himself impulse control and no longer required medication daily. He was able to determine when he was having difficulty and needed his medication.
By including Sam in the team and allowing him input he was much more willing to work with the team increasing the chance of success. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and if necessary challenge the Dr’s treatment choice if you’re uncomfortable with the results of the current treatment. Be willing to discuss all the options with the whole team and be willing to bend if necessary.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.