To medicate or not to medicate

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?

  1. His grades have improved a great deal! No more NIs.
  2. He doesn't get into trouble at school anymore.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. He can control himself at parties and at sunday masses. He doesn't squirm as much as before.
  6. Last but not the least, now HE THINKS BEFORE HE ACTS!
To Darlene's query: I don't know the case of your son. But I think I know what you've been going through, I was there and still am.

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.


Pao said...

oh, our prayers are with you. have faith.

darlene said...

Hi jo! Reading through the description of an ADHD child, brought me tears. As a mom, sometimes i get so depressed why my son is this and not that. However, and as if im consoling myself, i just think that ADHD are not considered as handicaps, right? And that they need to be loved and understood more than anybody else.

Im happy that your son is responding well to Ritalin. As I've said even my son's doctor hesitated for reasons i don't know. It appears to me, that, she only based her diagnosis on a one-hour-every-seven-month session and informations that i only convey to her. Not even arranging for a special observation how my son behaves in school. Maybe by next month (our next schedule check-up) I will have to ask her one more time.

I'm glad that you found an ADHD support group or egroups. Advocacy here in Philippines, sadly, is poor.

Thanks for sharing these bits of information. Hope to get regular news from you :)

JO said...

Thanks Pao.

Hi Darlene. No, my son is not handicapped. He can function and do things by himself, he knows what's right and what's wrong, and he doesn't bring harm to himself nor to those around him. Why don't you try to see Dra. Morada, she held a clinic at SM megamall (that is if she's still there) or at Medical City. She's my kid's pediatrician, and she first told me about the unusual "hyperactivity" of my son.

atoy said...

ano kaya ang cause niyang adhd. So sad to hear na pareho pala kayo ni Darlene na may mga anak na may ganito. Siguro God will not give that "special children" sa inyo kung hindi niyo kaya. Alam niya na mga super mom kayo kaya sa inyo pinaalagaan ang mga labis niyang mahal na mga bata para mabigyan ninyo ng sapat na atensiyon at pagmamahal. God knows that this children are in good and loving hands.Hyperactive children need hyperactive moms.

fennymun said...

It isn't easy to be a mom of two kids. It is even more harder to be a mom of kid with ADHD. May God strengthen you.

KaDyo said...

Our youngest started to talk at 4 yrs old. We thought something's wrong with him, the doctor said he's fine. Now he's 5 and talk too much..lagi ngang may tweety stamp sa kamay from school (tweety means talkative)

JO said...

Hi Atoy/Fenny/KaDyo,

Sometimes I can't help but wonder that if we were in the Philippines, would he be diagnosed as ADHD? All the kids there are really hyper and way too active.

Here in North America, if your kid is a little on the hyper side, they would say its ADHD... or if the teachers can't control your kid, they would recommend that you medicate him/her or he/she will be suspended or worst kick out of the school. This is a big controversy.

I just hope I am doing the right thing... and that it won't have a long term effect on my son.

Duke said...

hi Jo!

Really?When your kids are hyperactive they tend to assume or diagnose that he/ she has ADD? Well sometimes kids are just plain active.
For all you know, in the philippines, they wouldn't even think your son has ADD.I am glad though that your he is improving so much! Take care...

JO said...

Hi Duke,

Actually my pedia in Manila already noticed that about my son, but he was too young then (2 yrs old) to be really diagnosed as such. I was told to wait and see.

TinTin said...

Its always hard when your child doesn't fall into the categories you've preconcevied in your mind and expected but you do your best, right?

Have a great weekend!

Agring said...

Drugs is always dangerous. It has short and long term side effects. In my opinion it doesn't cure it can only cover the symptoms.

I'm so sorry to hear about your son with ADHD. Of course it's your choice to use drugs but there are alternatives if you are willing to try.
I emailed you something about Ritalin. Cancer is linked to Ritalin.

JO said...

Hi Tin,

All I can do is pray that his being on medication doesn't have any long term effect on his health and growth.

Hi Agring,

Yes I know there's a lot of controversy regarding the (over) use of Ritalin. That is why his doctor is regularly monitoring his health. There is no known cure for ADHD, children just learn to outgrow it and learn to control it as they get older. Thanks for the link.

Lynn said...

Hi Jo, you are one tough woman. I had no idea what ADHD was, thanks to you, I'm learning about it now. I salute your courage and feel the love you have for your son. My prayers to you.

Krit said...

It is difficult when you know others will judge you for the decisions you make as a Mother. But you know yourself, you know your child- congrats for being strong and following through with what you know is right.

Being a Mother is difficult- I'm surprised more people don't talk about how difficult it is. Still for all the work related to motherhood- there is nothing like it. It is by far the most rewarding role I have- my children are my heart. They make me a better person and they remind me to keep going.

JO said...

Hi Lynn,

Thanks! I just hope I am doing the right thing.

Hi Krit,

Yes, I know some mothers may not agree in my decision to medicate my son. Or may feel that I am irresponsible.

I had seconds thoughts about posting this topic, but I do want to get the comments of other mothers out there who are in the same situation as I am.

Raquel said...

Jo, thank you sa information ha. Yan talag ang hiling ni mister na makabuo kami ng lalaki. Sabi ko sa kanya I am only the nest, ikaw talaga ang mag strict diet. Meron din kc akong nabasa na kung ano ang dapat kaninin namin.

I-add pala kita ha. oks lang? Palagi na kitang nakita na nag cocomment sa mga kapitbahay ko pero alanganin ako sayo eh. Serious kc mukha mo, ako naman tsulokoy.

Raquel said...

May nakalimutan pala ako, may chinese blood ka pala,ang mama ko may half blood chinese din.

Balik ka uli sa bahay ko, sign ka sa form ng ikaw ay isa din makatanggap ng ginto this christmas. Scroll down mo lang sa sidebar. San ka pala satin?

JO said...

Thanks Raquel. And you're welcome! Hope to see more of you here.

karen said...

Hi Jo,

Thanks for visiting my blog. We were just talking about ADHD in one of my classes last week (I'm a Psych Major). I know some people would not reccomend medcicating children, but I am sure you are doing what's best for you child. You and your husband knows him the best more than anyone else. So hang in there! And keep up the faith.

I am not reccomending this or whatsoever, but a learned in my other class last year (not a Psychology Class, but a Botany --Medicinal and Hallucinogenic Plants class) that in some cultures, adults administer 2 cups of coffee everyday to treat children with ADHD. (Esp. to those cultures who can't afford meds such as Ritalin). It was just an info thrown at us and not dicussed very deeply in class so I don't really have a first hand idea on the subsequent effect of this treatment.

Take Care.

JO said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your comment. Though this is the first time I've heard of using coffee as treatment... I will do my research on this. Thanks!