This is the second year that my son is taking Ritalin for his ADHD. And though I was skeptical during the first year, I didn't think twice this school year.
Yes, his appetite is still deeply affected especially while he is on medication, he NEVER eats his lunch at school... but once the medicine wears off, his appetite is also back. So I make sure that he eats heavy breakfast (i.e. rice, noodles or pasta) in the morning before he takes his medicine... and I have food ready for him (as his lunch) when he comes home from school at 4pm. And he also eats dinner again at 6pm. So he still gets his 3 meals a day.
What are the advantages?
- His grades have improved a great deal! No more NIs.
- He doesn't get into trouble at school anymore.
- Before, a task I would do in 10 minutes would take my son 3 hours or more (I'm not exaggerating, you can just imagine my frustration)... now, the same task would take him 30 minutes.
- When he was in grade 1 (not yet on medication), he loses his cap/scarf/gloves/sweater at school easily and wouldn't remember where he drop it (about 5 pairs of gloves, 3 scarves and 3 caps) ... last school year (already on medication), I'm happy to say that he only lost 1 cap and 1 pair of gloves.
- He can control himself at parties and at sunday masses. He doesn't squirm as much as before.
- Last but not the least, now HE THINKS BEFORE HE ACTS!
My suggestion to your ADD child is to try the medication and see how he reacts to it, note down his behavior before and during the medication. And see for yourself! With the right medicine and the right dosage, you will see the difference immediately, I guarantee you that. Try to send him to school one day with the medication without telling the teachers, and talk to the teachers at the end of the day and see if they notice anything different. Likewise, do it at home so you can witness it yourself. If you don't see any "major" improvements then you can easily stop the medication.
I'm not a doctor and I don't claim to be an expert on this, it's just a suggestion from a mother to a mother. There's no harm in trying coz we all want what's best for our children.
Me and my hubby were skeptical at first, especially my hubby, we don't believe in medicating children so that they would act/behave a certain way... but after doing my own research, talking to doctors, teachers, other parents in various ADHD egroups and my son's school principal who had an ADD child, I told myself that I should at least try and see if it would HELP my son. And it did!
I haven't tried behavioral therapy with my son. But I did implement a daily routine for my son everyday, I notice that without this routine, he is always "lost" and confused.
Routine is simply the schedule you follow everyday: once he got home from school, first thing he had to do is put away his shoes/jackets/bag, then he washed his hands and then eat his lunch. After that, he do his homework or if no homework, he get to watch 30 minutes of TV, then he takes his bath and as soon as his daddy comes home, we had our (early) dinner... Then it's either play time or more tv... They read books 30 minutes before bedtime. I notice that if I follow this routine everyday, we wouldn't have any problem at all. Simple task, right? Not for an ADHD child.
Its important to remember that kids like my son cannot do multi tasking, so mothers/teachers cannot give more than 2 instructions at one time. I used to give these instructions all at the same time: 5 minutes before we have to go down for the school bus I would say "it's time to go, put on your shoes, get your bag... don't forget your eyeglasses and jacket... let's go..." And my son would always shook his head in frustration and said "mommy I can't do all at the same time. You said shoes and now jacket, what do I do first?" But if these were given one at a time, he will be able to do it all with no hassle. So now I give him allowance, instead of 5 minutes, I give him 10 minutes to do all these things every morning.
How am I sure that he needs Ritalin? All I know is that my 5-year old daughter is able to do the little things that I also require of my 8-year old son. A simple task like putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, my daughter can do it without me reminding her... but with my son, his clothes will be on the floor beside the laundry basket all the time even with constant reminder. My son lost a lot of stuff at school, my daughter NEVER lost anything (yet). My daughter can sit for 30 minutes to 2-hour doing her activity books... my son will not last longer than 5 minutes. I hate comparing my kids, but it helps me understand that my son needs more help than my daughter. And the culprit is ADHD not him.
To help you all understand the mind of an ADHD child, here is a poem by Vicci Morris.