When my kids were growing up, we did not have ADHD or ADD. I had heard of learning disorders as a general term used to tell parents that their kid does not fit into how we teach here. Some people may find this statement offensive, but I found that my kids, because they were creative beings needed to learn in different ways. They could concentrate on things that they had passion for! So why couldn’t the school provide passionate play and learning activities that “different kids” could participate in?
Today, in the “take a pill era” many parents are faced with a decision on whether their child needs medication. It was not an option when I raised my kids. In my day, the only children focused on for medications were kids who were so severe behaviorally that he needed sedation- not stimulants to help with concentration.
On the horizon
I came across an article today entitled: ADD/ADHD Medications: Are ADHD drugs right for you or your child? This article explained to parents how to make an informed choice when it comes to your child.
1.The first thing they suggested was to talk to your child about it. How unusual! We usually make all their decisions for them. Let’s ask our child if they want to take medicine to make them concentrate better. Good idea. I am serious. When was the last time you took your child’s opinion on anything?
2. Trust your instinct. Do you feel the benefits of taking medication outweigh the possible side effects?
Remember that all drugs have side effects. Common side effects of stimulants include: feelings of restlessness, jittery, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, unset stomach, tics, racing heartbeat, dizziness, depression, irritability and mood swings.
Beyond side effects include some other health concerns:
Safety concerns associated with stimulant medications such as Ritalin
1. The effects on the developing brain: The long term impact of ADD/ADHD medication on the developing brain is not known. Some researchers are concerned that the use of drugs such as Ritalin in children and teens might interfere with normal brain development.
2. Heart Related Problems: ADD/ADHD stimulant medications have been found to cause sudden death in children and adults with heart conditions. The American Heart Association recommends that all individuals including children have a cardiac evaluation before starting stimulants.
3. Psychiatric Problems: Stimulants for ADD/ADHD can trigger or make worse some psychiatric symptoms such as hostility, aggression, anxiety , depression and paranoia. People with a family history of suicide, depression, bipolar disorder are at high risk and should be monitored closely.
4. Potential for Abuse: Stimulant abuse is a growning problem, especially among teens. If your child is taking stimulants, make sure he or she ins not sharing or selling them.
Options for Care: Here are some questions to ask:
Do you feel that you have given alternative options a chance? There are practitioners who have suggestions related to vitamin therapy that may help. Should you try this first?
If you choose not to start medication, have you tried other alternatives such as :Exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting pleanty of rest, trying therapy and maintaining a positive attitude with your child?
1. Exercise: One of the most effective strategies to reduce the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Physical activity boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels, and all of these affect focus and attention. Try getting your child interested in walking, hiking, dancing. Encourage your child to play outside.
2. Eating Healthier: Our diet has an effect on our mood, energy levels and symptoms. Set regular snack and meal times that are nutritious. Add more Omega-3 to your child’s diet and make sure they get enough iron, zinc, and magnesium. Vitamin D is also important. Make sure they play outdoors every day to get some sun!
3. Get your sleep: Regular, quality sleep is important, and a vast improvement in the symptoms of ADD/ADHD has been shown when a child gets enough rest.
4. Therapy: ADD/ ADHD professionals can help teach your child some new skills that can help them to cope better. Some therapists focus on managing stress and anger, becoming more mindful through yoga, or controlling impulsive behaviors, and behaving more positively. Others teach on how to manage their time better and improve organizational skills.
5. Maintaining a Positive Attitude: It is all about your attitude! A positive attitude and common sense are assets to treating ADD/ADHD. When you are in a good frame of mind, you are able to connect with your own needs and your child’s.
Taken in part from: ADD/ADHD Medications: Are ADHD Drugs Right For Your Child? http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd-medications.htm