ADD Medication & Treatment
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ADD Medication & Treatment
ADD Medications & Meds Management
We just found out that our daughter who is 9 is ADD.
Since she turned 3, we have had difficulties with her at school/home.
We feel relieved to have a diagnostic and to be able to help her.
We are looking for a doctor for medication and a therapist for behavior in the
east bay (Albany/Berkeley/Oakland) who has experience in that area.
We are with Anthem HMO and Alta Bates medical group and would like a provider
in that network.
We heard about Dr Landman. Any opinions ?
We would love also to talk to people who went through this.
Thanks for your help
We recently started seeing Dr. Burhmann in Albany for my 10 year old son with
ADHD and some learning differences. Dr. Burhmann did a very thorough
examine/evaluation of my son. Even before wew made out appointment she called me
back on a Friday evening to discuss my son and why I was seeking a developmental
pediatrician. ALL of the other offices I called at the time did not even get
back to me. It took me almost a year to sort out my son's insurance and how we
were going to pay for this service and both she and her assistant, Sally,
remembered me and some things about my son. We live in Alameda, so Albany is not
exactly close but it is very worth it. Provide any other insight let me know,
My son, ''Steve'' is a freshman in college and has started to take
Adderall because he says it ''focuses'' him when he does his
homework. Steve thinks he may have ADD because this medicaiton is
so helpful to him, but I have not noticed any ADD symtoms when he was
living at home. Also, Steve is a straight A student going to a very
selective college and I don't believe he could preform at that high
level of funtioning if he was ADD.
I am concerned because I have heard that Adderall can be addictive
and also because he is getting these medications from other
students. Steve says lots of students at college use Adderall, but
I am still very concerned. Any advice would be appreciated.
My son is quite a bit younger than yours (14) and on Adderal
since he was 11 or 12. It made a huge difference in his
life. I was against it for years, but I now regret not
giving it to him sooner. With the kids I see (a few of his
friends and that I work with)there hasn't been addiction -
most kids I know on it do not want to take it on weekends or
holidays or anytime they don't have to. But I know with
adults it is quite different. When the doctor was talking to
me about it and I really wasn't sure, he did say that anyone
would do better with it - so that your son is doing better
with it doesn't mean he has ADD - you or I would focus better
with it too. If I were in your shoes, I would definitely
encourage him to get his own prescription, because the
dosages very HUGELY and are not only dependent on weight and
how long someone has been on it, etc. I know some kids who
are on many times the dose of other kids. Good luck!
hoping it works out for your family
Dear Worried Mom,
You should be worried, especially since your son is getting
this medication from other students. Consider getting him
tested for ADD, and explain to him that taking medication
from other students can be deadly. Goodness knows where the
medication really came from!! My 13 year old daughter has
ADD and she is very bright. ADD affects the ability to focus
and to organize, not intelligence. My two cents worth is that
he should stop the Adderal immediately until he has been
properly tested and diagnosed with ADD. Then, his doctor can
prescribe appropriate medication.
My 13 year old son recently started taking medicine for ADD with
positive results. However, he really doesn't like the doctor - an
older woman who doesn't connect with him at all. I would really like
to find a doctor in Oakland/Berkeley who can prescribe the medication
and is good at connecting with teenage boys. Any recommendations are
greatly appreciated. Also, he is having a harder time falling asleep.
If anyone has advice on this issue that would be great as well.
I wish I could help you with regards to doctors in
Oakland/Berkeley but can't since we go to
Brad Berman in Walnut Creek.
Berman is amazing with our 10 y.o. son (and us) and to me would be
well worth the drive. Of course it takes forever to get a first
appointment with him. If you want to try, his phone number is
With regards to not falling asleep easily, our son is on Ritalin
and had the same problem. We were told to try Melatonin by another
parent in the same shoes. After checking with our pediatrician and
Berman, he took it. It was a miracle; 30 minutes after taking it, he
was sound asleep. This works as long as he is in wind-down mode when
he takes it. I get it at Trader Joe's under their brand. It comes as
500mg chewable tablets. My son only takes one, but we were told he
could double it.
My son sees Dr. Paul Abrinko for his ADHD. Dr. Abrinko is a
psychiatrist, he relates very well to both parents, teens and
children. He is also very knowledgeable regarding the wide variety
of ADHD/ADD treatments available. He is not covered under all health
plans, so can be expensive out of pocket ($250 per visit). My son
sees him twice a year and his expertise is worth the expense. His
office phone is 510-496-6014.
East Bay Mom
My son is also 13 and has been on Concerta for ADHD. It worked well
but the downside was no appetite until it wore off at 8pm and
trouble sleeping. My solution, which his MD agreed with, was to
give him Melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. That worked really
well. I would give him 1 3mg lozenge. He is now on Straterra and
that is working much better. His appetite is more normal and has no
problems going to sleep at night. My son sees Dr. Hartman, who is a
young MD at Pathways to Wellness in Martinez. He's a really nice
guy and easy to relate to.
I'd recommend Dr. Andelman in Albany (510-527-9615).
My now 15 year-old was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 13 and has
been under the care of Dr. Brad Berman whose practice is in Walnut
Crrek: 925-279-3480. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it for us. Dr.
Berman does understand teenage boys as well as their parents. He is
empathic and insightful, but not a pushover and very appropriate for
this age group. Our son does have trouble falling asleep and has
decreased appetite due to the meds. He drinks chamomille tea at
bedtime and says this helps a litle bit. Also, the computer and other
electronic equipment need to go off 30-60 mins before bedtime (which
is supposed to be at 10:30) and he is supposed to engage in other
quiet activities. He sleeps better on days he has sports activities.
Because his decreased appetite was affecting his weight gain, Dr.
Berman recommended nutritional supplements such as Boost and whole-
milk yogurts and these do seem to have helped. With Dr. Berman's ok,
I chose to not have him take his meds on weekends and holidays, but
that is a decision should be made with a physician.
does anyone have any info on adderal and facial tics? my
17 yr old was put on adderal for a diagnosed adhd, which
he took sporadicaly, maybe a total of 10 times. i removed
him when i noticed the facial tics. he has not been on any
medication for about 4 months, but the tics have gotten
worse, with the neck stretching, grimmacing, etc. thank you
It sounds like you need to get back to the doctor and report this, as well as
the fact that the first trial of dosage and type of medication didn't seem to
work out. Those facial tics sound noticeable enough that they might produce
some social fallout and embarrassment for your child. There is really great
information about AD/HD and co-occuring conditions on the websites of
schwablearning.org and the National Resource Center on AD/HD at
www.help4adhd.org. In my experience as an educational therapist who treats
adolescents and adults with AD/HD, the road to optimal medication can be a
long one, and working closely with your doctor is important. Don't give up
too soon. These facial tics are probably distressing, and your doctor may
want to change medications because of them. You're an important partner in
the treatment because you provide the observations in real time. Good luck.
times and I really do not understand why people are so hesitant to just
TRY something. I do not see what the costs are in terms of trying this
drug--it is completely reversible. I think that there is so much angst
about medication for mental conditions and some hidden fears of
addiction that people do not realize this is NOT really a big decision.
You are not getting married to Ritalin, you are meeting briefly for
coffee!!! Then if things work out you will date a bit while constantly
re- evaluating your relationship!
My one caveat is that you do need a doctor who knows what they're doing
and is going to be systematic, knowledgeable and objective about what is
really a PROCESS. The MD shouldn't just throw the prescription at you
and run. They've got to check in with you and follow up and keep tabs
on your kid's growth.
Having recently seen a therapist who owns a business specializing in
ADD/ADHD I must say that I warn you to procede cautiously when sending a
child to therapy, ie to meet with the therapist yourself first, and
gather your own opinion, before sending a child in. I am still going
thru self-esteem issues that arose DUE to his approach, not being helped
by his approach.
The therapist, himself having a disorder, which was I thought the best
part about him, that he admitted his own condition upfront, was often
late for the appointments and worst, very negative in his beliefs about
ADD/ADHD once you get to the point of ''diagnosis.''Upon ''diagosis''
which consisted solely of appointments with him and costly forms, he
then recommended that I continue on with their other ''services''-- such
coaching-- which of course, they so happen to offer. It seemed more of
a snag-you-in type of business than working with ones needs.
Educating yourselves is essential, so read, read, read and visit
reputable websites. I suggest SchwabFoundation.org, helpforadd.com,
CHADD.org and ldonline.org for a few to start with. Watch out for
emotionally based information. There's lots of good science focused on
ADHD and you might as well benefit from it. You can be more of a help
to your child if you feel authoritative because you have excellent
information. Some big thinkers in this area (and they don't all agree)
are Russell Barkley, Peter Jensen, Ned Hallowell, Mel Levine and John
Ratey (the last two are my personal favorites). You could drown in the
amount of information, but you have to start somewhere. An ADHD
diagnosis provides useful information that can avert difficulty for your
child. It doesn't have to be sad, although it is a challenge for sure!
Best of luck.
I have ADD/ADHD.
1. Local resources: local CHADD chapters, support groups etc etc can be
found at http://www.chaddnorcal.org. It's a great starting point and you
will be welcomed at our meetings!
2. Information: there's a lot of misleading information and scare
stories out there. I'm an engineer and like to understand how things
really work under the hood. The best book I have read which has real,
hard research-based information is by Paul Wender
ADHD: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adults.
Oxford University Press, 2002. It goes into the neuro-chemistry,
clinical case-studies etc.
* I take meds every day and they're helpful.
* Delaying meds will not *harm* your son.
* Ritalin may or may not be the *right* medication - it did not work
*for me*. If it makes a positive difference, great. I had BAD sides
effects with Strattera which, anecdotally, are experienced by many males
although denied by the pharma company.
The only times I ever got driving tickets was when I was prescribed
* Meds ''the most effective treatment bar none''? This underestimates
the significance of complementing with non-medical support. In my and my
friends' experience, meds alone are NOT enough, and you may need to
experiment with various organizing strategies and techniques. If you can
get him into various habitual daily rituals (making lists and checking
them) it will make a huge difference, especially when you and supportive
adults are not around.
4. In my experience, many non-specialist educators and medical staff
talk very knowledgeably about ADHD although (a) their knowledge comes
from third-hand sources and (b) is several years out of date, typically
gained through CE credit courses.
5. ADHD is a gift as well as a frustration. Find ways to exploit,
develop and enjoy the positive and creative and fun sides of ADHD as
well as 'fixing' the disadvantageous side-effects. This will help your
son It is important to understand that your child does not have a
problem, but a condition.
Both of my kids, now 7 and 8 (20 months apart) have been little
handfuls since birth- very active, very verbal, very intense,
very creative and very bright. In fact, they were great babies,
and we gave ourselves all the credit for raising them ''right''.
Both of us parents were similar as kids and it was not thought
to be more than a strong personality. We used to joke about ADD,
but imposed as much structure as possible and learned to enjoy
the chaos...then they started school. Both have problems there,
primarily impulsiveness and emotional reactivity. One is gifted
based on testing and off-the-charts active, the other
distracted, dramatic and dreamy. After one too many discussions
with schools, we started family therapy directed at behavioral
modification (1-2-3 Magic, etc.) and have instituted every
nonpharmacologic approach to ADD on the books. I am a
researcher, but I have even done things that have no proven
benefits based on research, such as limiting sugar.
Nothing is working for school and whenever we go out to public
events (BD parties, etc get them overexcited) although their
behavior is markedly better at home. I have tried to think of
their ADD as a personality type that can be adaptive in many
ways. I work with alot of successful adults who were hyper kids.
I cannot seem them as ''diseased'' or having a brain disorder.
But we now are beginning to understand why people medicate their
children like ours- the reaction of teachers and other kids and
their parents to them causes us and the kids alot of anguish.
People are quick to assign blame. It's assumed we do not
discipline our kids (and yes, we don't hit them but there are
very clear consequences when they misbehave, but impulsive kids
still lose control of themselves at times) or spend enough time
with them (both parents work), etc. I am tired of yelling at
them and dampening their exhuberence, which I have been advised
I must do to get them to be able to behave at school and in
public. They never were allowed to run around screaming, but you
have to shout to keep them in line and impose consequences
daily. I am NOT setting expectations too high- as if!- I'm sure
half the parents we come in contact with assume I'm too lax. But
they also think it's unseemly that when one of the kids get
revved up, I have to speak firmly to them in public.
They have friends because they are creative and funny, but if a
kid wants to be mean, they choose one of mine. When my kids get
upset, they often cry or ''take a swing'' back- very rewarding to
tease with low risk of retribution. They both do well in school,
but are felt to be underperforming by teachers- one's messy
handwriting is said to be a sign of insufficient pride in work
product, the gifted one can't sit still for reading aloud. It's
one month into the school year and I have been to
2 ''conferences'' about my problem children. I am in tears and
stressed out daily- trying to hold the line on their behavior
and bear up under criticism, snide remarks and ''advice''.
Here's the dilemma- do we give them medication? We promised
ourselves we'd give the other path a full year to work and if
anything, things are worse as one year later. I just can't yell
anymore at kids who really are trying their best. I know they
will gain self-esteem if their schoolwork begins to show their
potential (I myself am less concerned about ''grades'' at this age
but they both are very invested in school despite daily
negativity there). Our medical advice is that it's time to give
it a try. One kids is getting too dispirited from all the
criticism and the bouncier one is starting to lose his temper
from the same. I know I will likely be judged negatively for
medicating the kids too, but I am concerned that they used to be
hyper and happy, and now they are hyper and anxious.
I am asking for support in general from parents of kids like
mine. If you gave your kids medication, what tipped you over
into that decision? Did the ''shame and blame'' from outside the
family play a role? Did it just wear you down to deal with
their behaviors constantly? Did the meds make them into zombies?
Some days, I really just want a quick fix, but my real concern
is their happiness and future well-being- and it's starting to
seem one or both might be happier on meds.
not quite super-mom
There are two things that made me feel better about trying
medication on my child:
1. There is nothing irreversible about the decision. If you do
not like it you can stop ANY TIME! This is not surgery or
switching schools or even making a big financial purchase. This
is trying a cheap drug with an extremely short half life that
will be out of my child's body in a few hours. It is called a
drug trial because you are trying it to see if it works.
2. If my child needed glasses or insulin or other medical care I
would provide them. Why is the cultural assumption that drugs
are so bad?
Use your skills as a researcher and do a lit. search--look at
what works, look at what people do in other countries, look at
the risks and side effects of ritalin.
Honestly from your letter I couldn't figure out a reason why you
wouln't want to try medication. Because people are going to
Keep in mind if your kids are zombies from the meds. then it
isn't that they shouldn't be on them, it may be that they're
taking too much.
Get a good doctor who knows about this and then go for it. What
do you have to lose?
Also, your kids sound almost old enough and together enough to
have an opinion about it themselves. Ask them whether they like
it. Sometimes kids like it and feel so much better on
medication and ask for their medicine when it is stopped.
extremely thankful my child is on medication
You are most certainly not alone! Every parent of a kid with ADHD goes though all
this same agonizing. This is such a huge and difficult issue. And other parents can
be quite judgemental about your kids, their behavior and if you choose to go with
medication, about all that too. It's hard. Give yourself a lot of credit for
understanding your kids are trying their hardest already.
If you have not yet seen this site, visit:
It is a huge source of support on all these issues and includes a large section on
complementary & alternative treatments, which work well fro some kids. There is
also a large section on conventional medication.
We did a trial of medication when our daughter was your kids' age and the side
effects were just too tough to deal with, due to her metabolism, I guess. A few years
later we tried again, and it has been really, really good. The side effects have been
tolerable, and most importantly, she feels like it is really helpful. It helps her with
attention and also with impulsivity in her social interactions. I'm fairly certain that
without the meds, her life would be much more stressful and home life would be
much more bitter. She's not zombie-ish at all. It seems the key is a willingness to
work through the trial-and-error period to find the right medication and dosage--
and that can be trying.
Best of luck on this journey,
You may wish to read Mary Ann Block's book on what you can do for your children
through non-pharmaceutical means. Also, know that many modalities have been
able to help gifted children (read THE EDISON GENE by Thom Hartmann) which may
include: HANDLE (www.handle.org), sensory assessment and integration (http://
www.toolsforlearning.com/), Jin Shin Jyutsu (www.jinshinjyutsu.com), and
neurotransmitter assessment with targeted amino acid therapy
(www.neuroscience.com). Since ADD drugs work on neurotransmitters (such as
serotonin, norepinephrine, and/or dopamine) amino acids (building blocks for all
proteins in our bodies) can address the underlying imbalances, after first measuring
what the body is making (via urine). You might call the company to locate a
practitioner using this methodology.
Hi there, I am a former special Education teacher and am now the
Assistant Director of a learning center (www.learningrx.com) in
Pleasanton. Have you read ''Driven to Distraction'' by Ned
Hallowell? I just heard him speak and he is an adult with ADHD
and a very different perspective on things. Try reading his book
(s). i was very impressed. Also, you may want to look into
cognitive training, such as at LearningRx, or other treatments
that involve brain science. Keep your great attitude!
You seem to be very thoughtful, ''on top of it'' parents who have done all of the right
things to deal with your childrens' difficult behaviors but obviously the treatments
and strategies you have tried have not been optimally effective. I would DEFINITELY
give medication a try. I don't have children with ADHD children myself, but I am a
child psychologist who knows the ADHD treatment literature very well. In the
majority of cases children with ADHD respond positively to medication and their
lives (as well as the lives of those around them) improve, sometimes dramatically.
Of course there can be side effects and the effects of long-term medication use are
not well understood. However, if I had a child with ADHD I would definitely give
medication a try. If your kids are prescribed a stimulant medication (which is most
likely), you will know very quickly whether the meds are having a positive effect. If
they aren't or if you are concerned about side effects you can simply stop the meds.
It is worth a try.
I have a child who somewhat fits the same description as yours.
We held off on medication for 10 years, determined to work with
our child. We tried EVERYTHING. The differences in raising a
child who has ''issues'' really became apparent to us when we had
other children and began realizing that ''normal'' children do
not behave/react the way our oldest child does. This may seem
obvious but if you don't have anything to compare it to it is
not. We finally relented with the medication for many reasons,
all of which you touched on in your email. Primarily though was
finally getting to a point where I felt my child was enduring
failure after failure no matter how hard he tried and that it was
starting to shape his character and who he believed he was. As a
parent I also had had enough of being judged and my child being
judged. Because we had other children who were absolutely
delightful we had a bit more faith that there was nothing wrong
with our parenting but rather a roll of the genetic dice. But
anyone who thinks that having a difficult child doesn't wreck
havoc on your family, personal life, marriage, self-esteem etc.
is fooling themselves. Likewise, I've come to the conclusion that
to plod along in the hopes that things will improve for your
child is naive at best and can be extremely damaging to the child
who is experiencing all the frustration that impulsiveness and
other strong behavior creates.
Medication is not a miracle although we saw a difference in our
child within the first few weeks of starting. What it has done
for our child is help him focus and control his behavior just
enough that he can engage and learn in his school environment and
start experiencing some of the success that is rightfully due to
him because he is smart and bright and can be a pleasant guy. We
use the lowest dosage that we are comfortable with and that
appears to make a difference. We use his more balanced
personality as teaching opportunities to empower him to take
responsibility for himself. Now, I'm convinced we did the right
thing and could kick myself that we waited 10 years before
getting help for our child. Because he has had some real success,
I hope that as he grows older and his maturity and physiological
system catches up OR he learns about better behavior and can more
control his actions he may be able to eventually be med free. But
I would also support him staying on the med as long as he
benefitted from it. We'll just have to see what the future holds.
Happy to have a happy kid
You sound like a great mom! It's very difficult, I know, and I
give you a lot of credit for trying so hard and thinking this
through so thoroughly. My son, who is now 11 and in 6th grade,
was diagnosed with ADD at the beginning of 5th grade. Trust me,
I was very opposed to the idea of meds, but I was also really
tired from years of dealing with various behaviors that you
described very well. More importantly, I was concerned about his
growing frustration and discouragement as he got older and more
self-aware and as the expectations at school increased. The
thing that helped me most was that I have a tremendous amount of
trust in his doctor, Brad Berman. I trusted the diagnosis,
because it was certainly not something that Brad rushed into.
Nevertheless, I felt very sad about it because I felt terrible
that my son was going to have to deal with all this (meaning the
ADD label, taking meds, etc). When Brad pointed out that my son
was already dealing with it (meaning ADD itself), I realized that
perhaps my resistance to meds was not helping my son. I was also
terrified that my kid would be dramatically different and somehow
not-himself if he took medication.
I wanted to write to tell you that trying meds was the best thing
we could have done. My kid is still his same wonderful smart
weird energetic (and occasionally very trying) self, but it is
just much easier for him to focus and control his impulsivity.
He handled what could have been a very difficult transition to
middle school this fall beautifully. He likes school and is doing
very well there, both academically and in terms of behavior. He
would tell you himself that it helps him to take the medication.
One initial issue was getting the right drug. He started on
Concerta, which kept him up all night, but after switching to
Ritalin, that was much better. The other, ongoing, issue is that
he doesn't have much appetite in the middle of the day - we've
had to be pretty vigilant about making sure he eats.
I would encourage you to get a second medical opinion if that
would help, and then just to give it a trial of a month or two.
You can always take them off medication if you feel the harm
outweighs the benefits. I still cannot necessarily say I'm
thrilled at the idea of medication, and I just have to tune out
those who want to be judgmental about it, but our experience has
been very positive.
Good luck with your choice.
Been there, doing that
This is a very hard issue -- I know just what you are going
through because we have faced this situation and are still
grappling with it. Our son is now 12 and still struggling with
ADHD/ADD symptoms, as well as some other symptoms that
unfortunately also have left him without friends. We started
trying medications because of very intense pressure from his
school. We resisted for a very long time and also tried many
different kinds of alternative therapies, none of which had
much impact. We finally gave in because of the pressure as
well as our feeling that we needed to do something to allow him
to have as much of a ''normal'' childhood as possible -- which he
clearly was not having. So we tried many different kinds of
medicines, most of which had very little impact and some of
which had horrendous side effects. About a year ago, we
started him on Adderal time-release, which has had some
impact. He still has problems when he gets frustrated and
anxious, but in general has a much easier time focusing in
school and maintaining a least a little more even temperment in
school. However, night-time, when the medication wears off, is
more difficult at home.
It is all a very painful process -- for both your children and
for you. It never ceases to amaze me how other people make
such negative assumptions about your parenting skills when your
children ''act out.'' In our case, we had to battle not only
other parents, but the school, where the principal was very
unsupportive and, despite a public pronouncement
of ''community,'' took a hands-off approach to creating a
community for our son. We, like you, have clear rules and
clear consequences and discipline at home, but suffer others'
assumptions and implicit criticism when our child acts in a way
that is contrary to their expectations.
Good luck in your decision.
I don't have advice, mostly because I'm right about the same
place you are. But I sure do sympathize. I have a bright,
extremely active, emotional, and impulsive 6-year old first grade
daughter. During her troubled K year we sent her to a
psychologist for play therapy and it seemed to help somewhat with
the outbursts and periodic non-cooperation at school. This year
started poorly and we are now getting a behavioral pediatrician
to evaluate her. Maybe you've done something like that? It's a
dozen sessions total with the doc plus he does numerous phone
interviews with the people she interacts with. We will see what's
on the other side of that, and although I will exhaust all
avenues before medication, the downside of her behavior is so
damaging to her sense of self I cannot let it go on indefinitely.
Our options are 1)find a less structured school, or move to the
outback and homeschool 2) commit to long term therapy to see if
the psychological support helps 3) meds. Obviously keeping a
solid routine at home -- guarding their sleep and eating habits
-- helps quite a bit, but it sounds like you have that covered.
My kid does no extra-curricular stuff outside of school since
she's exhausted and fragile at the end of the day, and much more
apt to lose control.
Are your kids at public or private school?
And did you find the Magic 1-2-3 program helpful at all? I'm not
familiar with it.
sarah, a sympathetic mom
I wish I could give you a hug! I too have been down the road of
the judgement of others youre too permissive, but you
shouldnt yell, your child is too loud, too active, calls out
the answers, reacts bigger to teasing and such.
Do you know that your kids have ADD/ADHD? Have they been
diagnosed? If they havent, you need to do that. If they have
you need a really supportive doctor. I use Brad Berman who is
WONDERFUL. He really likes my kid! He really cares. Hes told
my son to call him anytime. They have one-to-one talks. Brad
tells my son how terrific he is and is frank about the issues
hes dealing with. My son too is gifted, cares about school,
has friends. But the ability to control himself is not all
there yet. We decided to put him on meds when he expressed his
concern about how things were at school. He is very clear that
having meds helps him focus on school and on his homework. It
has helped with his cooperation as well. He was already a very
self aware person not that he sat down and talked a lot about
it, but at times he certainly does. It has made life much easier
for everyone and school is much better. We also decided in
middle school to put him in a private school with whole-child
approach - that is they care about his mental and emotional
state as well as his academic performance.
By the way, I got the recommendation for Dr. Berman a few years
ago from this list. His office is in Walnut Creek and his phone
number is 925-279-3480. There was a waiting list for new
patients when we signed up. But I left a very frank message
about how hard things were and they got me in earlier.
Good luck! Don't be afraid of meds.
a mom who has been there
Phew! You have your hands full. A household full of ADHD is an exciting and
demanding place to be a parent. I have three perspectives to offer you. I got a
diagnosis of ADD Inattentive for my 7th grade daughter many years ago and
followed the suggestion of the doctor to give ritalin. I was really shocked when she
commented, ''Now I can follow the conversation at the dinner table mom!'' She was
not really the shy, uninterested in people, more interested in TV kid that I thought I
knew. She had a great, dry sense of humor and enjoyed eighth grade more than she
had ever enjoyed school because she discovered that her ''exposed'' personality
made her POPULAR. The key to getting this is to see that she was always there, but
her distractibility (among other things I won't get into here) made it so hard for her
to keep up with the action that she just gave up. She later went off meds in high
school, the sense of humor and popularity stayed, the things she had learned while
available on meds continued to help her stay organized and recognize when her
ADD was getting in the way. The story is longer, and not everything is so lovely, so
in other words, she is really a normal kid. That's my personal, indirect, experience.
I am also a volunteer facilitator for an adult support group and a certified parent
trainer for CHADD. I hear a lot there from people who have experienced AD/HD
from both sides, medicated and non-medicated. chadd.org has a national
clearinghouse and it is a place to get information about medication and support
groups for parents. Schwab Foundation has a parent message board.
In my private educational therapy practice I see people who have had both good and
poor results with medication. It's not for everyone and it's a very personal choice.
Medication works best with education - of kids, teachers, parents, family, friends.
The practical considerations you mention are the reality of life with ADHD in this
time and place. It's not easy, but it doesn't have to be awful! Good luck to you.
Two words about your situation: Brad Berman. He is fabulous,
thoughtful, and knows his stuff. Other postings have mentioned
him as well. Our child is 100% better all the way around after
starting on meds. Why have your child(ren) struggle and fail
academically and socially if they can't help themselves because
their brain chemistry is off? If your kid was diabetic and
needed meds, you'd use them. It's the same deal with ADHD. If
your child doesn't improve with meds, you can always stop them
with no adverse affects. And forgive people who judge you and
your children: they are clueless, thoughtless, and obviously
need all the help they can get in order to be kinder and
gentler in the world.
It can get better
Another perspective on meds for ADHD: I'm always wary of comparisons of ADHD
with medical conditions such as Diabetes (as in advice like ''If your child had
diabetes you wouldn't withhold insulin, would you?''), which are illnesses that involve
the body failing to produce a needed chemical/hormone/whatever that it naturally
produces--like insulin, or thyroid hormone for people with thyroid conditions or
even seratonin for depressed people. Ritalin and many ADHD medications do not
replace missing chemicals in the body--they introduce new ones, often stimulants,
and the long-term results of medicating children like this are still being studied.
The jury is by no means in, as far as I understand it, on those effects. For instance, I
gather it is now proven that prolonged use of ADHD medication can permanently
stunt a child's growth. Also, anecdotally, I know more than one child who has tried
the spectrum of medications offered for ADHD and who may be doing better with
attention, but whose appetite has not returned despite prolonged use and the
promise that it will, and whose sleep patterns seem to be permanently disruptive. By
no means do I think that medication should NEVER be tried, but I DO think that the
argument that medication is THE answer to ADHD needs to be greeted with some
sceptcism, especially when advocated by an organization (CHADD) that, while
appearing to have sprung up from a grass-roots parent support group, is actually
deeply funded by Ciba Geigy, the very drug company that makes Ritalin. (see this
PBS report for more detail: http://www.pbs.org/merrow/tv/add/chadd.html). I say,
don't rule out medication, but try everything short of it first!
I am interested in what other families have done if the Ritalin
or concerta for ADHD seems to be causing rages in a teenage girl
but no other medications works well enough to get her through a
day at school. This has happened with my daughter. The rages
were so bad that she almost had to be hospitalized. We have
Kaiser Insurance and I am frustrated with the lack of
coordination between the pediatric department and psychiatry
(the only discipline who can prescribe something other than
There is a similar question in the archives but I would like to
know if any other family is currently dealing or has dealt with
this issue and how they handled it.
My daughter has tried adderal and a high blood pressure medicine
Any advise appreciated
Have you considered getting your child off of the meds and in a school that has a
different sort of structure that may be more conducive to her personality? While
ADHD certainly has a basis in the individual, it is also a social construct.
Meaning, in a different sort of situation, a different sort of schooling
atmosphere, the ''problems''
of ADHD - the lack of focused attention, hyperactivity, etc - would not be the
level of problem that it is in a traditionally structured school. Perhaps a
smaller, more collaborative, more physical type of environment would suit her
personality and allow her to succeed without the potentially scary side effects of
the meds, like the rages or whatever else. Just a thought.
As I have stated before, I do not accept the designation of ADHD as a ''disease'',
and feel that the use of stimulants to ''treat'' this condition is misguided in
almost all cases. I am not a psychiatrist, but, as a neuroscience professional, I
am very concerned about the effects of stimulants on the developing brain. In my
experience, many kids with the diagnosis of ADHD are, in reality, bored and/or
underchallenged in their school situation, or are sufficiently ''different'' that
they disturb the status quo; and, as is common in our culture, need to be
''medicated'' so that they ''fit in''. Often, changing the school situation, and
use of physical activities can go a long way to deal with ''hyperactivity'' and
other ''learning disorders''.
Get another opinion from a good psychiatrist, preferably of academic standing .
Robert A. Fink, M. D.
My son had and has trouble with anger and rage. For him it isn't caused by meds
but I think some meds are better than others. We are using strattera now and
things are not perfect but we're managing. We followed the advice on this list
and went to Dr. Berman. He has been terrific. I hope someone with Kaiser can
Best of luck to you. This is so hard!
still working on it
I have to ask some hard questions here:
what is this child's diet? how much sugar? wheat? dairy? meat?
and what kinds of sugar, wheat, dairy and meat are being imbibed?
what excercise is this child getting? as in how many HOURS a day?
how much television is this child watching? what kind of television? how much time
playing or watching video games? what kind? how much time on a computer? is this
time on the computer supervised.
what attention 1-on-1 is this child getting? how much of the time each day, of
this child, is supervised by the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and
caring adults in the childs life?
it sounds like you are solely ''working'' with allopathic dr's and, frankly, you
are getting the results you are... it is no wonder.
i do not believe in medicating our children. i believe that there are better
answers than poisoning our up-and-coming generations.
hopefully, you will see the answers not hidden within the questions that i have
finally, i dont know if you meditate (and i am speaking of non-christian eastern
type meditation) however, if you do not, it is time to learn how to and then teach
there are MANY MANY forms of ''skilled relaxation'' meditation, guided meditation,
all sorts of tapes/recordings, self hypnosis (my favorite) and so much more.
do not be brainwashed by the allopaths. they are NOT the sole answer, and
frequently, they are no answer at all, as you are experiencing.
this, of course is only my opinion, however, if you look at my questions and find
some non=allopathic pysicians with whom you can work, you will be amazed at the
speedy recovery of your child.
How long has your daughter had these rages? My son (12) had a terrible time at
school last year because his teachers ignored his special ADHD needs (he just got
angrier and angrier) but now that he is in a new school with teachers who know
his issues and how to work with him he is much happier. If these rages have been
going on for some time you need more help than you are getting from Kaiser. Ere
you familiar with Dr. Daniel Amen and his clinic in Fairfield? He has worked with
many types of ADHD kids (and adults) and uses different types of anti-depressants
and/or stimulants to help his patients. His web-site is brainplace.com. He could
also suggest someone closer to you that could help. I often have to go outside of
our healthcare plan to work with specialists but it's worth it because I can't
afford to waste time by not using the best. a concerned mom too
I don't recall your original question but I'd like to add my 2cents
based on the other responses I've read. (As an aside, for what it's
worth, here's a baby boomer who's horrified at the medicating of so many
children, prompted by doctors, ''supported'' by pharmaceutical companies
and completely agree with Dr. Fink and the respondant with the ''hard
questions''). But I have another question. Have you paid attention to
the timing of these rages? Is she menstruating?
If so, are the rages in conjunction with her period? As someone who
suffered from PMDD (a horribly exaggerated form of PMS), until recently
when my periods finally ended, I would say a good 2.5 to 3 weeks of
every month were given over to the hormones around my period, including
deep sadness and rages.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago (after 40+ years of suffering from
this monthly and when it was basically too late to do anything
significant about it) that I finally realized what was going on - in the
meantime it impacted my entire life in many negative ways. Please check
her out for severe PMS (or even PMDD symptoms) so that if this is what's
affecting her, she doesn't have to suffer as well, though it may be
difficult to distinguish if she's being negatively affected by her meds.
I missed the original post, but read the responses with interest.
My son (now grown) was diagnosed with ADHD when he was about ten. We
had him on Ritalin for perhaps 2 weeks. The ''rebound''
effect when he got home from school was absolutely frightening.
He was so angry and violent. We took him off the meds, went further
with diagnosis, and eventually tried him on a variety of other things.
The school was annoyed with us for ''giving up'' on Ritalin so quickly,
but I told them we and he shouldn't have to pay the price we were paying
for a calmer school day. Eventually what worked best for him was a
boarding school for alternate learners (NAWA academy--he didn't get
there until mid-year of 11th grade). He was still on some meds (but not
stimulants) when he was there, but once he graduated, he chose to go off
the meds, and as an adult is managing well without them at a college
that accomodates alternative learning styles (Antioch). He is NOT
bipolar, despite his huge mood swings on ritalin. He is intelligent,
enthusiastic, and highly empathetic after all he has been through. The
bottom line--whatever you decide about medication, if the current med is
causing huge rages at home, you don't need it and she doesn't need it.
There has to be a better way, with or without meds Hang in there--it's
Has anyone used or known anyone who has used a childs individual
neurotransmitter and amino acid tests to manage ADHD. My child
has been on ritalin and concerta for 4 years. For the past 8
weeks there have been progressively more intense angry rages and
outbursts. She is 12 years old. I have lowered her dose and would
like to wean her off the ritalin and concerta. I would like to
begin to use an alternative approach. A reference to the use of
neurotransmitters and amino acids was made in an ADHD parent
support group web site. Any experience or information from any
parent or guardian in this group would be greatly appreciated.
I am also looking for a homeopath with experience with ADHD and
children in Oakland or Berkeley.
Desperate and Anon
Randall Neustaedter, OMD CCH specializes in children and ADHD.
He is a doctor of Oriental medicine and a classical homeopath.
He is in Redwood City at the Classical Medicine Center and
probably worth the drive. You may also find a homeopath or
other practitioner who specializes in children and ADHD by
searching the directory of the Holistic Pediatric Association
I wonder if your daughter is getting more moody because she has began
menstruating recently. Depression doubles in girls at the onset of
menstruation, around age 12. Also, age 12 is a tough age for adolescents and
girls at this age can get into clicks and become difficult to communicate with. I
speak from experience remembering what a hard year my daughter had at age
12, and also as a psychiatrist I often find in women with depression that their
first memory of feeling sad began about age 12.
I wanted to suggest to you that the rages you are seeing are as likely to be in
response to reducing the Ritalin as they are a side-effect of taking it. I take Ritalin
on a daily basis I can tell you that attempts to under medicate, or medicating only
every 4 hours (unless that happens to be your metabolic rate) can lead to moments
of rage and despair (as well as fuzzy thinking) as the meds wear off.
If your child was accurately diagnosed, and medication previously has helped, it may
be that what's needed is more of what she's taken in the past, or a different
medication. Only an expert you trust can tell you whether reducing her meds, or
changing her regimen is a good thing to do -- or even safe. Please, tell me that the
changes you are proposing are being made under the care of an ADHD expert.
I am trying to help a family member cope with her wonderful yet ''souped up'' 8 year
old daughter, who is taking Ridalin to help her focus in school. She does not have
the classic symptoms of ADHD, and the psychiatrist wonders if she could be manic.
She took Ridalin for four months, and her reading improved 3 grade levels.
Impressive, but she hates taking it (she cries every morning) and has no appetite.
She literally did not gain one pound last year. While the drug does help her focus,
her personality seems to be pulled back to the point where she doesn't quite have
her usual spark. (In fact, she asked her class whether they liked her better with or
without medication. The kids voted for without, while the teachers clearly saw better
learning outcomes since she could concentrate.)
Are there better alternatives? Someone mentioned the drug Straterra... Are there
effective alternatives to drugs? I believe in a holistic approach but do not want to
send the parents through a path of snake oils. I welcome your advice, which I will
I have seen great results in treating issues like these (bipolar
disorder, ADHD, ADD, etc.) with nutrient therapy. See
www.hriptc.org for an approach. This clinic, although located in
the midwest, does outreach clinics around the country and will be
in the Bay Area next month. Feel free to contact me for more
I was diagnosed with adult ADHD and began taking Straterra about
8 months ago...it has been an incredible help to me. The
advantage over Ritalin is that it is not a stimulant, and
therefore not a controlled substance. The disadvantage is that
it is patent-protected and therefore much more expensive. For
me! the cost is very worth it. A holistic approach would include
therapy but I don't have the time or patience. :-)
There is a great organization called Feingold
(http://www.feingold.org/home.html) that every parent should
know about. My son was displaying behaviour problems often
associated with ADD. He also had problems concentrating and
sitting still at school. On the other hand, he was able to sit
still for a very long time at certain times. The Feingold
organization has done ''numerous studies that show that certain
synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior,
and/or health effects for sensitive people.'' My son has become a
different person with the help of this organization. It is well
worth the effort.
happy without medicine
Spending time in a leafy environment can reduce ADHD symptoms.
Do you really have a proper diagnosis? Is it really ADHD?
Neurotoxins could be the problem:
If you are dealing with ADHD the best first treatment is with
either a stimulant med or a non-stimulant med (Strattera).
Improving diet and lifestyle are definitely helpful, too. (I liked
the comment you got from Michael about not being
patient enough for therapy -- ADHD humor, ha ha).
If you are dealing with something ''like'' ADHD then Feingold
or a nutritional approach may be all you need. A child who is
sensitive to additives could appear to be ADHD, and benefit
from intervention -- but whether that child has ADHD is a
ADHD is not a nutritional failing or a character flaw, its a
genetic neurochemical disorder for which there is a known
successful treatment. If you trust your diagnosis and the
doctor who recommends Ritalin, try it If you aren't sure --
find another doctor and get a second opinion. Just because
Ritalin is over-prescribed in general doesn't mean your
child's life can't be transformed by appropriate diagnosis
My child was recently diagnosed with ADHD and is now
on medication (whoopee, it is really helping!)
1st question: do others of you tell family and friends
your child is on a stimulant? Do you get unsolicited anti-
med advice? How do you handle it?
I have been diagnosed with ADHD too (no surprise)
and have been prescribed a med. The psychiatrist I saw
charges $15/month to process the triplicate. Is this
It has been my experience that people have some strong feelings about
ADHD meds and are not hesitant to communicate their personal biases if
you give them an opportunity. I would advise giving yourself time to
assess your own response to medication before inviting confusion into
your decision. Your child's teacher should know that your child is
medicated because that relationship is impacted and the teacher can
offer valuable feedback. Teachers are required to maintain the
confidentiality of that information. I am a teacher and an ADHD
coach, so I have heard a lot about this!
My 8-year-old daughter was also diagnosed with ADHD (finally!).
She is on Adderall, and is doing immensely better.
Yes, I tell family and friends, and if I got anti-meds flak from
them (which I haven't so far), I woudl offer to let them watch my
daughter for a week or 2 without meds. People who haven't been
in the situation and know nothing about it shouldn't be judgemental!
As far as your psychiatrist charging you to fill out the
triplicate forms - mine doesn't, but I don't feel that it is
unreasonable - since the meds are a controlled substance, there
is probably a certain amount of extra paperwork/processing
involved dealing with the triplicate forms and whatever
regulations are involved.
feel free to contact me if you want a sympathetic ear!
In reference to the question about meds for your child, my
child is diagnosed with another disorder and has been on meds
for almost a year to control his aggression. I do not tell
everyone, only select family members that will need to know for
his care. There are some people, including family and parents,
that have never accepted his disability from the beginning so
they definately wouldn't understand the fact that he has to be
on meds. I am very careful about who knows and it's not
discussed very often.
Though I don't have enough experience to really answer your question,
a great parent bulletin board/forum with a ton of parents who have
this at www.schwablearning.org.
Initially I was pretty circumspect about telling people that my
child had ADHD and was on meds. Then I decided that I was role
modelling that it was something to cover up. So I started
treating it like I did my other child having an allergy. Yes,
people do sometimes offer unsolicited advice. But if you
present the information with a tone of confidence (this is how
it is) rather than inquiry (what do you think?) they are much
less likely to say anything. If they do, you can say something
like, thanks for your concern, we're doing fine.
BTW, I realized from the tests that I have mild ADD and have
developed coping mechanisms over the years. So you and I can
attempt to explain what it ''feels like'' but the truth is they
may never understand.
The question isn't who to tell, but what to do with unsolicited
advice? In this case I think I'd develop a stock and fairly
harsh response for most people, along the lines of ''Thank
you. I appreciate your insight, but of course you really know
nothing about my child or our circumstances''.
Unsolicited advice is one of the more annoying by-products
of life in Berkeley. PLEASE don't suffer it in silence...
But, if in fact the advice is from family who know and love you
and your child --- I'd request that they withold judgement for
six months and see how things are going. ...And, there's
always the ''Stimulants for ADHD are like glasses for
myopia'' argument. (Its not kind to withold them unless they
aren't really needed).
p.s. My doctor charges $10 for writing the prescription.
treated. It is also likely that his father ''self medicated'' (ie:
drug use) to deal with the challenges this condition brings. The
doctor has suggested Ritalin and I have many questions. Will it
turn my son into a zombie? What are the long term effects? I
would like to hear from parents who have had to make this
difficult decision. I would like to know about the good, the bad
and the ugly. I want what is best for my son. I want him to have
a chance to be successful.I have been doing some reading but I
would love to hear from other parents about how you and your
child are managing. Thanks.
There is a great book that I used for the Cody's Parenting
book group called ''Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in
your Head.'' The author, Carla Hannaford, offers a less
typical approach for dealing with ADD that you may find
helpful. She advocates for something called 'brain gym'
which she believes has helped children with all different
types of learning difficulties. Good luck!
My now 14-year-old daughter had problems with organization and
attention starting in 2nd grade. I felt that she might have ADD,
but none of her care providers or teachers would acknowledge
that ADD existed. I had her evaluated for all sorts of learning
problems, put her in counseling, etc. Four years later, when she
was ending 6th, I still was reading the same comments on the
report card since 2nd grade: ''Talks too much in class, can't
finish assignments--too distracted. Trouble paying attention.''
My daughter also felt like her impulsivity was irritating to her
friends sometimes. Her self-esteem started really suffering. So
I finally found a specialist who instantly agreed she had ADD.
She has been on Concerta (timed-release ritalin) for almost 2
years. She is much happier. Her grades have improved
significantly (Now As and Bs). I feel our family relationship is
much better because there is less stress. Nightly homework used
to be a nightmare. The main problem now is that some core
academic skills (reading, spelling, vocabulary) were not
instilled during elementary school and, now, in middle school,
she has some problems in those areas. My suggestion is to try
the ritalin and see what you think! It's not a lifetime
commitment. You'll know pretty quickly if it works or if it
doesn't. Hope this is helpful for you and good luck. PS--don't
be surprised if you run into very strong anti-medication
opinions. Read the studies in the clinical journals. Ritalin is
one of the most tested drugs available.
My son also had trouble with focusing and getting things done
and he had some really hellish years in school. No teacher ever
suggested that I have him tested, they said he was smart and
needed to pay better attention. He told me at age 10 that he
wished he had ADD so people wouldn't blame him when he couldn't
focus. He was VERY ARTICULATE. I talked to his pediatrician who
talked to my son. They decided to have a diagnosis. The doctor
found that he has ADD and we started on Concerta (later switched
to Metadate because he didn't sleep well with the Concerta) but
there were results right away. It was easier for him to complete
a task from homework to chores. If you don't see a benefit right
away then you can just stop the medication. It has really helped
my son's confident. It hasn't changed his personality -- as he
says ''I wish it made me want to do homework.'' But now he knows
he can do it and he gets a lot of positive feedback in the
classroom instead of constant reprimands to sit down, stop
talking and not call out the answers. He feels like he's more
under his own control. I really angsted about giving my child a
drug for his brain but he is so much happier. I do keep reading
about it and I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter about the
lastest research findings. You can sign up to receive the
newsletter at http://www.attention.com. Good luck I know it's a
really hard decision and you know your child best.
I've learned a lot about AD/HD lately as I recently made a career
change and became a teacher -- a teacher of special needs kids
with AD/HD and other Learning Differences. I also found out that
I have AD/HD myself!
It is important to know that there are three potential causes for
AD/HD in the brain, and that the medication that can work for
your son must be targeted to the specific cause. What this means
is that your pediatrician needs to try different medications,
carefully monitoring the effects, and see which one works the
best. Don't get discouraged if Ritalin doesn't seem to do the
trick. You may just need to keep trying. Make sure that your
doctor is willing to take this approach and doesn't just write
you a prescription and not follow up.
Meanwhile, there are many things you can do to help. One of the
most important is making sure that your son gets LOTS of vigorous
aerobic excercise, every day! This has been clinically shown to
have a therapeutic effect for people with AD/HD.
There are lots of other, simple ways that you and your teachers
can help him cope. More information is available at a great
educational outreach organization in Campbell (San Jose) called
Bright Solutions. Their Web site is www.dys-add.com. The head of
the company, Susan Barton, conducts workshops on dyslexia and
AD/HD on a regular basis, and she puts aside a chair or two for
parents, for FREE, at each seminar. Please contact her -- she is
a great source of help and inspiration.
Finally, you should be aware that AD/HD, for all it's
difficulties, is a gift. It is strongly associated with higher
IQs and brilliantly creative minds. Tap into that, and your son
will find that he has an incredible asset in his ''different'' ways
I don't know a lot about Ritalin or ADD, but I listened to an
interview on NPR on the subject a week or so ago. A book
was recommended which advocates against being too
quick to label a child with ADD, when any of a number of
attention deficits may be to blame for their behaviors. The
author believes that many children are diagnosed with ADD
who don't actually have it, and while Ritalin may be helpful in
making their behaviors more manageable, it's not the best
thing for them, because it's a drug ... for life ... which doesn't
actually address their true problem. If you're interested, the
name of the book is A Mind at a Time, by Mel Levine (sp?).
I just noticed postings about ADHD so I thought I would let
people know about the free 4 week ADHD series for parents
or teachers. On Thursday June 13th at 6:30Pm till 8:30Pm
Dr. Mel Burman and I will discuss medication issues. We'll
cover the pro's and con's of using medication. The classes
are interactive with a focus on answering parents questions.
Anyone is welcome to attend...no pre-registration is
necessary and no childcare is provided. This will be class
#2 . Weeks 3 and 4 will cover parenting and school issues.
The classes are at Kaiser Permanente, Richmond Medical
Center, 901 Nevin Ave in Richmond (off of Harbor Way) You
take elevator ''C'' to the 3rd floor.
ADD Treatment without Medication
Not asking for medical advice here, but personal experience
I've read the Australian study that said around 40% of 7-12
year olds they tested had the same improvements with their
ADD/ADHD symptoms (focusing, impulsivity control, etc.)after
using a certain amount of fish oil, than as if they had
taken medications. Has anyone had luck with the fish oil?
How much did you use? I'm seeing alot of different info on
dosing amounts. I'm also wondering how long the fish oil
takes before being effective. We gave my diagnosed child the
smallest amount of Concerta possible for 1 day. It was
amazing to see how it effected him just for one day, but
then he stayed up ALL NIGHT LONG. I know we can go back to
the dr. and get new meds, but I ran across the fish oil
thing and thought I'd try it.
We've been using it for our 5 year old and it's hard to know if and how much
it helps but it certainly is good for him in other ways, brain development,
healthy skin, to name just two, so it's a very beneficial supplement overall.
Don't expect to see any dramatic changes, though, and give it at least a
month. To learn more about fish oil's overall benefits, ''Super Immunity'' by Dr.
Leo Galland is a very good book, and also includes the advice of giving the
type of fish oil that contains vitamin A for a week during a cold or flu to help
boost the immune system. Otherwise use the kind that has little or no vit a or
d, as these can be toxic over time in the amounts that you'd want to give your
kid for ADHD. We give our boy one tablespoon of Carlson's ''best'' lemon
flavor fish oil (no a & d). He enjoys the taste, and he likes taking it in capsule
form also. We keep Carlson cod liver oil capsules for when he's sick or at risk
of becoming sick and the no a & d kind for when he's well. The 500 ml liquid
Carlson makes is the most economical, as it is loaded with DHA. You want
about 1500 mg of DHA to treat ADHD, and Carlson's has about 500 per
teaspoon. When buying fish oil, it's very important to get a brand that tests
for heavy metals and other junk--Carlson's does thoroughly and is very high
quality, but there are other companies that do too. Our two year old also likes
the taste of the lemon fish oil, and she likes chewing on the 1000 mg.
capsules. Just watch out: if it gets on clothes your kids will smell like fish and
the oil stain can set, so use stain remover and wash asap. To read more about
fish oil, check out Andrew Weill's advice and also Dr. Sears, the famed
pediatrician, is big into the benefits of DHA. BTW, there are a number of good
books about non-drug treatment of ADHD, one of which is by Edward
Hallowell...i'm currently reading another one of his books, ''Super-parenting
for ADD'' and it's a small but really great and important book.
I give my ADHD diagnosed daughter fish oil off and on. I
think it takes the edge off, but I have no miracle cure to
report. If her symptoms get worse we get out the fish oil
and are good about it for a few weeks. She is also dyslexic
and she did make a leap in reading about 6 weeks after we
first started fish oil. We usually use Trader Joe's sea
gummies, but she also sometimes takes pills. Have you tried
tea or coffee? I give them in small amounts when she really
needs to concentrate.
tea and fish oil--breakfast of champions
I don't know about fish oil - we have a bottle on the
kitchen counter but I can't say I've noticed any change.
However I do have a 9-year-old on meds for ADD and I do know
exactly the problem of the ''big improvement, but now he's up
all night.'' I just wanted to tell you not to give up on the
meds yet. We found that at Kaiser, they start everybody out
on Concerta, but it does not work well for every single kid.
It didn't work well for our kid - it kept him awake. But
there are a LOT of different ''delivery systems'' for ritalin
and you don't have to use Concerta. Talk to your doctor. We
ended up consulting with a meds specialist to sort out the
options (child psychiatrist at Kaiser). It turned out that
our kid has a slow metabolism, so the timed-release meds
like Concerta were just sitting there in his gut too long
and then kicking in too late. Thus the all-nighters. We
found something that works, and everything is smooth sailing
now. But it took us several months of trying different
things mainly because we didn't understand enough about what
to look for, what the side-effects are. With ritalin (unlike
SSRIs), you can see immediately whether it works, and
immediately see the side-effects. When they stop taking it,
it immediately leaves their system. So that makes it easier
to find out what works for your kid.
Ritalin has made such a dramatic difference for our son.
Without it, he can't function in a classroom at all, on any
level. Not only that but his social interactions suffer
because he can't hear what other kids are saying. (He has
Inattentive Type ADD). I wish we had tried it sooner than
3rd grade. I'd be happy to answer any questions about our
i am adhd and been treated for 18 years. i also am
extremely qualified to offer an opinion about various
treatments. i have studied and researched every option with
dozens of people and although fish oil has a
noticable(sometimes) benefit, it really isn't significant or
even measurable greater than placeboes compared to the
profound effect of the stimulants.
It is not uncommon to hear concerns about all sorts of
negative affects or issues from the three stimulants,
(especially around here) but it honestly is almost entirely
unfounded. the irony is ritalin is the oldest and one of the
safest medications after the more than 50 yrs it's been
available. it's an irrational stigma not based in science and
until you try them, i suggest you keep an open mind about
if not, focusing on your diet can help. little or no caffiene,
low carbs, suger and multiple high protien sources
thoughout the day is the answer. i imagine its about
opposite of what you actually consume but the wrong diet
can hurt maybe more than the stimulants can help.
exercise everyday and letting the bodies natural
endorphines focus the mind and calm the body is the best
thing anyone with adhd can do to find clarity, keep alertness
and be calm and productive rather than reactive and
thanks and if you need suggestions for help, feel free.
I have given my 13 year old son fish oil for years now to
help with ADHD. Even with 2-4 capsules a day, there was
not enough of an impact on his symptoms. I consulted a
nutritionist and was diligent with his recommendations,
but in the long run, it was not enough to help him. After
much hesitation, we put him on meds. He was on Concerta
and it was really difficult with him losing his appetite
and having trouble getting to sleep. We switched him to
Strattera and it has been significantly better. It does
not affect appetite or sleep. I highly recommend you
consider that if you're looking into meds. It keeps him
calm, focused and less impulsive.
We tried fish oil with my son who has attention issues
related to ADHD (at the recommendation of his neurologist)
when he was in 4th grade, as I felt the need to do full
due-diligence before trying any medications. After one
month we found no difference in his ability to focus and
finally stopped. When we finally tried medication
(Concerta), the change was immediate and dramatic. No doubt
there are side effects (he has a bit of trouble falling
asleep at night), but we find it manageable if he takes his
medication early enough in the day (never after 8am on a
My son took Omega-3 fish oil for anxiety and ADD.
HUUUUUGGGGGEEEE difference w/in a few days. This was rx'd
for him by his psychiatrist instead of meds. He was in 5th
or 6th grade at the time and is small for his age...This
was also after a brain scan to compare his brain activity
to others of his age and level. First we started w/ 3 of
the big caps...No difference. Then we added a
I can't say enough about this. We got high quality...there
are many brands. The caps are soft and squishy so easy to
swallow. He took them every day (usually at night...his
preference) for several years....then slowly kept
forgetting, I forgot to nag, summer camp, etc.
Now he doesn't take it at all. He has gotten through hsi
anxiety and is doing great.
Personally I think EVERYONE should take Omega-3. It's an
important supplement to our health and daily nutrition for
many reasons. Definately worth a try but get a high
quality brand...not TJ's or cheapo....the cheapo brands
are often rancid and will give him fishy burps. UCH!! Good
We are just one family, but fish oil did not work for us and we tried for an entire
year. In fact we tried every possible alternative program we could find:
occupational therapy, cranial sacral therapy, acupuncture, family therapy, social
skills group, chiropractor and finally we tried meds and they worked! Our son
was a new child on the very first day of concerta. Later, we noticed that he
became dull and unconnected with the world, so we tried other meds that
worked better. Now he is 11 and his wonderful school is working with him
without meds!!! They say it is like a new upbeat child with great things to say
has joined their school. When he was on meds he didn't raise his hand or
participate in group discussion. He actually didn't say much at all and not to his
parents either. Plus, he lost his appetite and didn't like sleeping either. I
had all the answers, but it is a very hard road you are on & going through it will
make you stronger and a better person/parent. Be sure you have a great
Behaviorist like we have at Children's Hospital who is willing to work with you
and find the lowest dosage possible.
Parents of boy who happens to have ADHD
I don't have any experience with fish oil, but I do with
meds. My daughter has ADHD and I ''fought'' the concept of
putting her on medication. However, as many people reminded
me, I would give her medication for any other serious
problem that was treatable with medicine.
In any case, on so many levels my decision to try medication
for her was one of the best I've ever made. Her grades
sky-rocketed, her social interactions and friendships
improved dramatically, and home life got less chaotic,
particularly around homework and chores. In fact, she
thanked me for having her take them. I now wish I hadn't
waited as long as I did (5th grade).
There are many options in terms of meds and forms of
delivery. The time-release options did not work (they ''ran
out'' early rather than keeping her up) and others gave her
stomach upset. I did not want her to have the stigma of
going to the school nurse to take a pill at lunch, her
doctor suggested the daily patch (Daytrana). It is
fabulous, but very expensive, so it is usually not a first
choice (particularly for Kaiser, I would assume). She takes
it off around 5 p.m. and has no problems getting to sleep.
In retrospect, I realize there is no reason not to use
medication. She is not ''drugged'' any more than a kid with
Type 1 Diabetes is ''drugged'' when they use insulin.
Mom of happier child
We've used both Fish Oil, Concerta and Methelphenedate
(Ritilin). In my son's case case the fish oil was not
nearly as effective as the drugs, but was considerably
better than nothing at all. I took the fish oil too,
although I didn't notice it helping my ADD. We had a devil
of a time finding fish oil that did not make us both stink
and that had pills that were small enough for a child to
swallow. And when we succeeded my hubby stocked up on them,
and it turns out that they also make you stink when they
are not fresh, so my son no longer trusts them not to make
him stink, and resists taking them. Also hampered by DH's
giving child ''a break'' from the fish oil pills, since the
other drugs worked better, during which child forgot (and
now refuses to believe) that there was one fish oil pill
that was really stink-less. (The break was a bad notion
because success via drugs does not mean the child has
enough Omega 3 in his brain. I may try another less smelly
source of Omega 3 such as flax seed oil in addition to the
drugs. ) I'll repost the info on stinkless fish oil
capsules if I can find it. Those that claim to be
''burpless'' still make you stink, and not just a little.
Since your son responded well to Concerta except the sleep
problem, I suggest you try the short-acting Ritilin or
generic equiv. methelphenedate. Same stuff without the
candy coating. Although we give our child Concerta most
days, I prefer the short-acting which has no candy coating
to introduce digestive variables. We also must ignore
instructions to give the drug on an empty stomach since it
suppresses our child's appetite.
BTW, we decided we'll feel guiltier depriving our son of
the drugs than we will giving him the drugs. One mom said,
''If I could get a drug to help my child, I would crawl
across burning coals to get it.'' Either way,
we'll feel guilty. And we cannot get our son to sleep on
time with or without drugs, so you are better parents than
we are in that respect.
- Hope this helps -
I would love to hear from anyone who has any experience
with neurofeedback training for children with learning
difficulties. My son is a 4th grader with inattentive
type ADD. Searching online, I found the Attention &
Achievement Center (4 bay area locations) as well as a
handful of independent practictioners. Please share any
experiences you may have as to the efficacy of the therapy
itself as well as any reviews of local practitioners. I
also would like to find out how much it costs (and do
costs vary much among providers).
I had a bad experience with Attention & Achievement Center.
They saw that I was desperate, said what I wanted to hear,
and took my money. The results: they had an unexperienced,
revolving staff perform the neurofeedback on my son. The
whole experience was frustrating and a waste of time and money.
I'm not saying that neurofeedback does not work. It does but
it's finding the right practitioner. Susan Snyder, PhD does
neurofeedback but I don't know if she works with children.
Her contact number is 925-388-2001.
There is no easy answer. It takes a lot of work and any one
who makes outrageous promises - beware!
I am considering testing myself and would like to know if you
have any feedback about this place. I would love to hear any
positive or negative feedback you may have experienced or heard.
Since the treatment is very expensive I want to make sure it'll
be worth the money.
Yes, the treatment is expensive, very expensive and time
consuming. When I first met with Dr. Hashemian at Attention &
Achievement Center I felt an immediate connection with him. I
felt that he really understood what my son was going through, and
what I, his mother, was going through. I could not wait for
treatment to start. The result: I was most disappointed with the
treatment. Please read his legal disclaimer CAREFULLY,
''... While Ali Hashemian and other providers of complementary and
alternative services hold private certification from independent
credentialing bodies, such services are not regulated by the
government and no licensing is offered. As such, providers of
alternative or complementary services, including Ali Hashemian,
are not, and are not required to be, physicians, surgeons,
psychologists, or mental health providers and are not licensed by
the State of California as healing arts practitioners.''
Yes, treatment was performed by his administrative staff.
I am thinking about using the Attention and Achievement Center in
Walnut Creek(also Pleasanton, San Mateo and Fremont) to assess and
treat my son for ADD. Has anyone used them and how do you feel
about the results?
It's a big money making business. Dr Hashemian has a revolving
staff. You might get someone pleasant one session and rude the
next. When I asked his office staff to tell me about The College
of Behavioral Medicine, which they are a division of, no one
knew what it was.
Their team of professionals are independent contractors which
mean they refer to one another. There is very little
coordination with the work that they do except take your money.
I was certainly disappointed with Attention & Achievement
Center. The neurofeedback my son received did not make a
measurable difference with his ADHD, if any at all.
Be sure to read their LEGAL DISCLAIMER carefully.
A Wiser Mom
I'm reading dr. David B. Stein's book ''Unraveling the ADD/ADHD
fiasco, successful parenting without drugs''.
Anyone read this book and followed his Caregivers' Skill Program
My position is that I don't want to give my children drugs.
Dr. Stein's CSP is about behavior modification implementing a
firm program with time-outs for target (mis)behaviors, at the
same time as you lovingly encourage the positive behavior. So, no
positive or negative reinforcing of bad behavior, just time-outs,
and lots of positive reinforcement for behaviors we want to keep.
The only thing I really have a problem with is the spanking. He
says to spank the child three times on the bottom if he's not
complying with going to time-out. I don't want to spank my
children but he says it's necessary in the beginning to get
started and showing them that you mean business. After that, just
the threat of spanking could suffice.
Any comments, views, opinions?
Do you have ADD or ADHD? I do. I knew that I had problems
focusing as a child. My parents talked about more discipline,
that it's all in self-discipline and parental discipline. I
believed the hooey until I became an adult.
As an adult in my early 40s I had the courage to bring this up
to my doctor. I have been on medication since. After medication
for the first time in my life, I could take my 170 point IQ
(yes, really), slow it down and actually concentrate for 2 or
more hours at a time. Before medication, my mind would race,
here's how it looked. Okay, students open your math books to
page 151, lets begin with problem three - my mind would then
think 3 is a prime number I wonder how many other number
problems are prime numbers? What about the answers to the
problems do they create prime numbers? Why don't they teach us
early on about the specialty of prime numbers? Surely the
teachers must recognize it, because they begin teaching prime
numbers in middle school. Then the teacher would make me stay
in - I could do the assignment in less than a quarter of the
time as other students - if I could only concentrate - and so it
Imagine what I could have accomplished if only the chemicals in
my brain had been balanced?
My guess is that your kids are really smart. I would like for
you to try one thing. Try the method you say for 30 days. Then
try medication for 30 days. Let the results of each guide your
decision. You sound like a great mom; you'll know what to do
with the simple experiment over 60 days.
Please don't spank your ADD/ADHD child. It won't work. The brain
chemistry of these
kids is such that punishments like that aren't effective--they don't
have as much self-
control and ability to inhibit their own behaviors and think about
future results as
typical kids. Most of ADD/ADHD kids already are confounded by what they
do and why
everyone around them is so exasperated or they have trouble with
reading books and exploring websites that offer solutions you are
and that resonate with what you think will work for your child. Good
Another mom of an ADD/ADHD kid
Please go to the CHADD website: http://www.chadd.org/
It's stands for Children and Adults with Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. I am an adult with ADHD. I
strongly disagree with the ideas you mentioned. ADHD, while
called a disorder, is not something to punish for. The brain is
malleable and there are many tools and programs to help ADHD
children (and adults) improve their focus and behaviors.
First of all, many people I know with extensive experience working
with children feel that time-outs don't work.
Second, while as a parent you always want to reinforce good behavior
discourage bad behavior, you have to look for the source of the
behavior. Kids with ADHD aren't just being bad to be bad. For a child
with ADHD, behavior problems result from an inability to direct or
focus their attention appropriately to cope with the demands of the
world (in school in particular). ADHD is not a lack of attention per
se, but a lack of an ability to direct the attention as needed.
So, while you may develop a program to deal with a child's behavior at
home, if you don't deal with the underlying cause, how with the child
get along in the world away from home, especially at school? Will you
expect your child's teacher to follow this program? In which case you
will be out of luck because I don't think a school exists that will
use spanking as a punishmet. At least I hope it doesn't exist.
You don't say why you are opposed to medication, but I think you
should talk to some parents and children who have gone that route. The
brains of children with ADHD are wired differently, and the medication
is very effective in helping them control impulses and focus their
attention. It is not the answer by itself, usually these children also
need help in other ways; often accomodations need to be made in the
way lessons are taught or tests are administered.
Finally, I would ask myself why instead of using medication, you would
consider an approach that depends on a threat of physical violence as
a way of modifying behavior.
I work with adults and adolescents who have AD/HD. The damage
that methods such as these have produced is heartbreaking to
witness. It's really unfair to punish a child for something he
or she cannot control, and it doesn't teach successful
self-control either. All it does is raise the saliency of the
desired behavior, using fear, at the expense of the relationship
with you and the child's sense of self-worth. Better to teach
enlightened self-control, practice greater patience (as all
parents of kids with learning differences must), and protect and
help the child more. Discipline has it's proper place in every
family, but it is NOT a cure for AD/HD.
It's really hard to parent kids who don't fit society's
expectations of what's possible, especially when the kids don't
show any visible signs of their difference. I teach a special
parenting class developed by CHADD for parents of kids with
AD/HD, ''Parent-to-Parent Family Training in AD/HD''.
There are lots of useful, practical and scientifically valid
techniques that you can use to help your child.
I would like some advice on hermal remedies for a 9 year old
diagnosed with add. We have evaluated her, and a very
conservative doctor diagnosed her add and wants to medicate
her. I have battled with the thought and have finally come to
the conclusion we need to do something. We are tutoring and
helping at home all the time. I just can't bring myself to do
the drugs. When she was little she was harrassed by my husband
for not eating well(he's greek) and since we've had her tonsils
removed, she eats great now, but is now calling herself
stupid. The biggest side-effect to all the add drugs is loss
of appetite. Other than the fact that I don't like the idea of
my child on a narcotic, even if I could do that, I don't think
she or I can deal with her not eating again and the negative
effects on the household.
Hopefully, being from the Walnut Creek area, all you great
Berkeley-ites could recommend some herbal remedies?
At my whits end
As a special educator, I feel strongly that you should listen to the advice of the
''conservative doctor'' that diagnosed your daughter's ADD. Think of ADD as television
white noise always on in your head. Think of the meds as a tool to help your daughter focus
enough to learn what she is being taught, such as appropriate behaviors, academics, etc.,
because that is what the meds are supposed to do...
help clear her head of all the white noise so she can focus. I hope that your doctor
recommended a good behavioral therapist/specialist who can help your daughter learn
appropriate behavior and how to recognize and cope with the symptoms of ADD, etc. The meds
get a bad reputation because often people expect that the meds will cure the child as with a
physical ailment. With ADD it isn't true... it just helps focus the child's attention so
she can be taught. She still needs to work with an expert who can help her identify her
inappropriate behavior and help her with strategies to manage her ADD. As she gets older,
and even as an adult, she will still have ADD and she will need to be able to manage herself
in order to have a satisfying and productive school experience, adult life, etc. She won't
outgrow her ADD. ADD is the result of an inherant difference in the chemical make-up of the
brain. I have never heard of it being successfully managed by herbal remedies. And yes, the
meds have side effects, but they can be managed well with vigilance and the help and
supervision a good doctor with lots of experience with ADD. You owe it to your daughter to
carefully and thoughtfully consider this... her education and the rest of her life is at
I know you asked about herbal remedies so you may need to disregard my note. I am a
clinical child psychologist with some expertise in the treatment of girls with ADHD. I
completely understand your hesitancy to treat your daughter's ADHD with traditional
medicine, especially given your concern about her appetite. However, let me just add that
there is a good chance that stimulant medication will be quite effective, will help her in
concentrate in school, will help her make and keep friends.
If she is concerned about being ''stupid'', stimulant medication is much more likely to help
her to change this self-perception than any herbal remedies are. And please remember that
herbal remedies have psychotropic effects too (which is why they would have any impact at
all), but they are generally untested in terms of their effectiveness and side effects.
Also, FYI, ADHD is never treated with narcotics. It is typically treated with a stimulant.
Stimulants are very short acting and are not addictive. That means within a matter of hours
you should see a positive effect on your daughter's behavior and there is little risk to a
short-term trial (e.g., a few days). If stimulants aren't effective or if the side effects
are intolerable, you'll find out very quickly and can discontinue medication. Good luck! I
know you have a difficult decision to make. Liz O.
I suggest that you consult several websites to get information about treatment - both
alternative and pharmaceutical. There is a growing body of scientific information about
AD/HD (or ADD) that would save you a lot of worry and help your daughter get more out of
school while the window of opportunity is wide open. I find that a lot of parents share your
concern about using stimulants and associate them with images of the seamy side of life.
There is an assumption that herbal or alternative remedies are somehow safer and don't
expose a tender child to moral turpitude. You can check out the results of well-designed
studies that measure treatment effects and choose one for your child that works reliably.
We know a lot more about what works for girls these days. The most important thing you can
do for your girl is to educate yourself about this disorder. Your husband may begin to
respect your authority on the subject and use fewer negative parenting techniques. There
are support groups and classes out there and you find out about them on these sites:
Schwablearning.org, chadd.org, help4adhd.org and adhdresources.org. There are more, but
these stick to the known facts, are open to considering the promising treatments (fish oil
for example), and are careful not to scare people! It's hard enough to know what to do
about AD/HD without confusing misinformation.
I cannot answer your herbal question directly, but I do want to clarify one thing.
Stimulants such as Ritalin do decrease appetite, but you can counter that by feeding your
kid before their meds, and by avoiding the extended release types of medicines, the ones
that last 8+ hours. At one point my kid took 5mg of Adderall *after* breakfast, and although
her lunchtime appetite was suppressed, she would eat heartily by 2pm and during dinner when
the dose had completely worn off. Good luck.
My daughter was diagnosed with ADD at 8. She was not a great eater and was of average
height but below the 10th percentile in weight. The developmental pediatrician, who had a
reputation for prescribing, would not prescribe meds for her because of her weight and we
were grateful for that at the time... although there were subsequent years when I would have
So I absolutely, positively know where you are coming from and you were totally right to try
behavioral modification first (and as well as anything else). BUT... your daughter is
coming up on the age when start falling off rapidly in school if the situation is not
corrected. I also have an adult friend with ADD who says, ''Even with their side effects,
finding a good drug -the right drug- was heaven and made my life so much easier.'' Since
you say your doctor is conservative --by which I hope you mean she doesn't prescribe at the
drop of a hat-- I really urge you to send your husband to the doctor with your daughter to
be educated on the issues... and then try the drugs. They are not forever, they are not all
the time, and if they don't help you can stop.
It always bothers me that folks are willing to try herbal remedies that have not been tested
and are often not administered by a licensed practitioner. We are, after all, talking about
a herb that will affect brain chemistry! Why should it necessarily be better or safer than
taking a known quantity in a pill?
As for my own daughter... she's in high school now and found her own solution in a strenuous
sport plus the maturity to stay on fixed, regular schedules. But it required a LOT of
parental committment and I still think we were awfully, awfully lucky that we were able to
keep her on the educational bandwagon until that happened.
We have not medicated our 12 year old with ADD so far, but one thing that has helped a lot
is Omega 3 fish oil. We use Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega capsules (cause they avoid the
fish taste cause they are in a lemon flavored capsule) and give him
2 in the morning and sometimes one after school. It has helped tons with his homework.
Another thing we have done is to give him a very healthy diet, without chemicals and
preservatives and we really limit the junk.
Good luck and I hope this helps
I don't know about herbal remedies for ADD, but my daughter was diagnosed with ADD at the
beginning of 3rd grade when she was 8. We did opt to put her on Strattera--it is neither a
stimulant nor a narcotic. She is a picky eater, but her eating was really not affected by
this drug; she continued to grow well. She did well on the drug, and after taking the
summer off between 4th and 5th grade, she started back on Strattera for the first half of
5th grade to see if she needed to continue it. We stopped it during the winter break, and
she has been off it ever since and doing well.
I was diagnosed with ADD at 15 and I'd like to share some of my experiences and suggestions.
Hope they're relevant!
I took ritalin and my grades improved, but I felt that it altered me quite profoundly.
Taking it was like being given crazy powers of concentration, but my ''spark'' was lost. Yet
the social and academic rewards for taking it were enormous, so I went along. In the end, I
learned to deal with my brain and attention span myself, which allowed me to stop the drug
''Stupid.'' It is very easy to absorb the messages coming from doctors and schools that
there is Something Wrong with you. Your girl seems to have learned some of these lessons
already. Then comes that cycle where, the more you tell her she's not stupid, the worse it
gets. I don't think there is anything Wrong with your daughter. I feel it is key that you
create an atmosphere which lets your daughter be smart, and for that to happen, you and your
husband need to believe it first. So she learns differently from other kids. So what? I'm
sorry that it's hard for all of you right now, but ADD is not so bad. The real danger is
that she hears ''there's something wrong with you'' and ''take this pill, it will all be
better". I think that's a very dangerous lesson. Instead, what helped me was: ''of course
you're smart and capable. Now let's figure out a way so you can show everyone else.''
I think it is great that you recognize the need to help her, but I would try a lot of other
things before the drugs:
* More structure - having blocks of time assigned on a chart for different homework was
* Move! Get up, jump, chew stuff, walk around the room, whatever; it really helped me focus.
My parents fixed it so that I was allowed to do this in class, too - great!
* Rewards for increased independence. My parents helped me a lot, but weaned me by letting
me know (gradually) that I was smart enough to work on my own. Then they just became the
Maybe you could try to find some physical outlet for her, like a sensory gym where they
allow kids to race around and pillowfight, and such. Those are great.
Best of luck to you, and may you never lose patience with your bright, beautiful girl!
Fine Then, Better Now
If you doctor recommends ADD meds, I'd try them, before experimenting with herbal remedies.
If the meds work you will know what to expect of non-prescription alternatives. If they
don't work... she doesn't have ADD.
One dose of appropriately prescribed stimulant medication will do more to eradicate your
daughter's sense of being ''stupid'' than almost anything. My daughter's life was changed
with the first 15 mg dose of ADD meds... when she was 15. Within an hour she knew her ADD
was real, and could be harnessed --- and for the first time she really believed she wasn't
stupid... even though we'd been telling her for years that she was smart. She has taken meds
continuously since then, but not every day or all the time. As her study skill improve and
her impulsivity declines I predict she will not take them anymore...maybe 2 more years.
If we'd known about the ADD when she was 9, we would have done the
same thing then, instead of 6 years later...
For me meds for ADD are like eyeglasses for myopia -- I would be cautious about getting the
safest glasses I could and the ones with just the right prescription -- but wouldn't
deprive my child of glasses because they might have unwanted side effects.
I understand your concern, but weight loss or loss of appetite aren't always side effects,
and there are ways of dealing with either one if it happens.
ADD mom of a (smart!) ADD daughter
My 7 yr old first grader has been given a definite diagnosis of ADD Inattentive. My
son is a highly compassionate, fun loving, creative ''space-cadet'' type, who gets
along with all his peers. All the adults he interacts with think he is a delightful
including his teachers. I would not call him hyperactive, although in a classroom
setting he fidgets and seems unable to stay focused on classwork. The only
challenges we have encountered with him are in the classroom, where he seems
unable to stay on task.
The doctor who evaluated him did not observe any learning disabilities, and seemed
very convinced that a 5mg dose of Ritalin would greatly help him during those
morning hours in school. His learning would improve and we were not likely to
experience any negative side effects. We obviously want the best for our child, and
seems to us that if this is the case, if medication will give our child an immediate
benefit, that we should start treatment now.
I should note that the teachers and administrators at my child's school have been
very helpful and supportive, and they have already taken (and will continue taking)
all kinds of remedial measures to help our child in the classroom. However, there is
only so much that they can do, and they have expressed concern that in later
grades, when the learning is more challenging, and the workload is greater, our
child will become frustrated and his self-esteem is likely to suffer.
My question is to parents who have a child with similar characteristics diagnosed
with ADD: Did you try medication? Did it help? What were the negatives? I am
especially interested in hearing from parents who decided to wait a couple of years:
Do you see the benefits of having waited?
I know there are a lot of horror stories circulating about Ritalin, and I am not
interested in hearing about this, unless you have had direct experience with your
child. Also, please understand that we are not parents at the end of the rope who
are desperate to fix some behavior problems, this is not the case. We have been told
that the most effective treatment bar none for our child's problems is medication,
and we are wondering if there are any reasons why we should delay it.
I worked for quite some time with children with ADD and have a husband
who was diagnosed with adult ADD - though we now understand he has had
it his whole life. From my experience and from speaking with my
husband, I think this would depend on how your child views his life.
Does he feel ''different'' from other kids? does he feel like he
struggles when others are breezing through things? does he want to take
the medication? Medication does help, but it always works best with
behavioral interventions. There is some really well-written,
kid-centerd, literature out there as well as workbooks and games for
kids with ADD. Despite medication your son will need to learn coping
mechanisms to deal with inattentiveness and other symptoms that are not
helped by medication. It might serve your son to see if he succeeds with
behavioral interventions first then if he still struggles, try the
medication. With supportive parents (sound like you are) your child
My child was diagnosed at age 6, but we knew something was up since he
was toddler. He is currently 11 and has been retested twice with severe
ADHD. To get to the point of medication, there is little risk to give
it a try. It goes in and out of
their system in the same day. Doctors like to start with ritalin. We
did and it didn't
work. My son became withdrawn and just wierd. So we tried Adderall and
we saw a wonderful difference. We have been using it ever since, upping
the dosage as need be. Every child is different and I don't recommend
medication for everyone. For us, it is the difference between night and
day, sanity and insanity - really!! I encourage you to give it a try
and see what happens. Personally, we couldn't and he couldn't survive
without it. P.S. We also do therapy and bevhavioral modification.
5 years experience
My daughter takes Ritalin and didn't know she was ADD (inattentive)
until 15. The only reason to wait before trying meds would be some
strange desire to witness more dramatic improvement... My daughter
actually thought she was stupid, and that everyone who told her
differently had missed something. We really didn't know what to think
just that things seemed harder for her than they should be. Some ADD
kids make it through to high school without treatment, but most suffer
a lot, needlessly, on the way.
At your son's age organizational or occupational therapy might be great
-- but I would not hesitate to give a 7 year-old the ability to be
''like everyone else,'' and that's what Ritalin has done for us.
I tell people that stimulant meds for ADD are like glasses for myopia...
some folks do fine without them...if they're only slightly out-of-focus
to begin, and can develop coping skills to deal with their challenges.
No questions here!
Our daughter was diagnosed with ADD inattentive type in fourth grade.
Although we were skeptical, we took the psychologist's advice and put
her on medication (Adderall extended release) primarily because of the
social consequences that were beginning to appear as a result of her
tuning out and then popping back into the interaction at the point she
left it only to find everyone else had moved on and thus being labeled
or ''weird''. The effects of the medication were subtle, but still
obvious to us. She is now in high school, still on medication, and doing
pretty well academically and fine socially.
We are two years further down the path -- our warm, affectionate,
creative and spacey son ''S'' is a nine year old in fourth grade. We
decided to put him on Ritalin last month.
Although his teachers have consistently remarked on his attention
issues, I resisted having him tested for ADD, in part because I was/am
dubious about pathologizing what seems to be a common and benign
characteristic -- i.e. dreaminess. Because S was basically mastering
all of the skills he needed to until this year, I hoped that he'd learn
to pay attention better as he grew up.
Fourth grade was a tough transition. As he is in public school, his
class went from 19 students to 27. Assignments, both in class and
homework, became more demanding, requiring more sustained effort. For
the first time, S became conscious and bothered that he was not
performing on some assignments as well as his friends. His self-esteem
was plummeting during the first semester, especially as his teacher was
big on timed arithmetic tests, which he found excruciating. He broke
down on several occasions, telling me that he was going to flunk 4th
So, we had him tested and diagnosed in November. His teacher made a
bunch of accommodations, which have helped, but she says that he's shown
marked improvements on math and writing since we began the Ritalin in
February (confirmed by my own ''blind''
test - a series of math quizzes on and off the meds).
I'm not crazy about my kid being on a stimulant, and I am comfortable
that we waited until the attention issue became a self-esteem issue for
him. If we could afford to send him to an arts-oriented school with
very small classes geared towards dealing w/ kids w/ ADD, I'd probably
do it. Reality being what it is, I've accept him being on the meds
because his attitude about school has improved dramatically, and he is
now keeping up or excelling in each subject. (BTW, he started on 10 mg,
which did nothing. He is now taking 15, which works fine.) Another mom
of a space cadet
When my daughter was seven, she also was diagnosed as having ADD. She
was unable to concentrate in school. She seemed to be in a fog, while at
the same time, hyper. Doctors suggested medication also. I decided to
eliminate some simple causes first. I had her tested for foods.
Although, the test showed she was not sensitive to any foods, I did
remove gluten grains from her diet and she did stop having ear
infections. The real turning point came when a friend of mine suggested
read: ''The Yeast Connection''. I thought yeast was an adult female
problem. Come to find out Candida can be passed on to our babies during
birth. Well, it took some time before I could get a doctor to do a
Candida Albican antigen blood test, but when a test was finally done, my
daughter had highter levels of candida than I had. It has to do with
antibiotics and all the simple sugars our children get at a very young
age. The doctor didn't know exactly how to treat it, but we tried
several months of the diet (mentioned in the book) and some Nystatin.
What a change!!! The ADD symptoms dissapeared almost immediately. My
daughter is much older now and she tells me when she over-does the
sweets she gets a yeast infection and feels spacy. It's worth looking
ADD and Candida connection
Concerta helps my child. Whether the medication works, how much you need
and what type will vary by the child so you just have to TRY it and play
around with it. The research is clear that this is an effective
treatment for ADHD.
Just remember it is called a drug TRIAL. You TRY the dosage and drug on
your child to OBSERVE if it makes a difference. You get your child's
teachers to fill out an ADHD questionnaire (like the SNAP) before
medication has begun and then at the end of the
1-2 week drug trial so you have an objective measure (although it may be
obvious that it helps or does not help). Your son sounds pretty
insightful so you can also ask him how it makes him feel. Ritalin is a
short acting drug that will leave your child's body FOREVER after about
8 hours. Giving your child a few pills is NOT like deciding to do some
type of irreversible surgery. If you do not like the drugs, you will
have the power to STOP or try a different dosage/type. If you decide to
stay on the medication then every year or so you will see what happens
if you stop the drugs and in order to decide if your child still needs
I am sorry if I seem impatient, but I have seen this question so many
My son has mild ADHD, and has never had medication. He does
well at school, except for homework, which often is
incomplete. Also, his spelling is very non-standard, so to
speak. I wanted to talk with other parents of kids with
ADD/ADHD that do not medicate their child (I am not interested
in any advise that is pro-medication) and ask how they deal
with homework, the intensity of anger with parents and
siblings, the distractability, etc. How are you able to help
channel your child's strengths in a productive way?
It is very important to keep in mind that just because your child has
ADD, it does not mean he does not have any other problems. I say this
with regards to his spelling. Many different things can cause spelling
trouble, and many with ADD have no trouble with spelling. I am not
saying ADD is not the problem, I am just saying that there may be other
With regards to controlling ADD, and channeling the energy, deciding not
to medicate often means deciding to allow your son to live a slightly
different life than traditional children live. Students with ADD/ADHD
tend to have higher energy, and they therefore require a high energy
lifestyle. He will require more activity, more
attractions/distractions, more behavior management, especially with
regards to conflict and boredom.
I'm sure you'll get lots of advice on this. As a teacher of kids w/
ADD/ADHD I will give you my single best suggestion for homework...
predictable routine. I would try to work with your child's teacher and
ask him or her to reduce the amount of homework (only for a while) and
see if she/he can allow for predictable assignments (i.e. a mathwork
sheet each night in math, the same part of a spelling unit every
Tuesday, etc.) That way, you child will know exactly what needs to be
done. If your child can start getting into the habit of doing a little
homework, and realize that it is something he/she can do and complete, a
routine will get established. You can gradually add more and include
different types of assignments. It will take some communication with the
teacher, but it is worth a try. Best of luck. I think you will be able
to do it w/o meds.
Have you tried books on food allergies and how diet affects children
with ADHD? There are several out there. I have a friend whose son was
diagnosed with ADHD, and wasn't convinced his medication was the right
thing for him. She spent countless hours researching foods on the
internet, and found which foods to avoid -- many contained high levels
of sugar and sodium. Her child's behavior changed dramatically as a
result of his new diet. Hope this helps.
Sometimes people who are trying to avoid or reduce medication try The
Listening Center in Walnut Creek. It is very expensive and very time
consuming. They do Tomatis based therapy for auditory processing
disorders. This may help your child if he also has auditory processing
disorders in addition to ADHD. If it is 'just' a question of 'pure'
ADHD which is a neurochemical imbalance then I doubt this method would
help him. They do an evaluation($375)for auditory processing disorders.
A LOT of intensive excercise may also help with the neurochemical
imbalance in the same way that regualar cardiovascular excercise has
been shown to be as effective as an antidepressant in some studies. My
daughter does better sleeping and being calm when she gets LOTS of
I have a 10 year son who has recently been diagnose with ADD. He is not
on any medication(ridilin).
His Doctors recommend the Feingold diet before starting the medication.
I would strongly suggest some research and a visit with a
behavioral pediatrician. There are many useful techniques
for dealing with ADHD that don't involve the use of medications.
The Feingold diet is not one of them.
The Feingold diet removes foods containing additives and preservatives
on the theory that these substances cause ADHD. This claim has not
stood up under scientific testing.
Russell Barkley, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at
University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is a leading
ADHD researcher. In his book "Taking Charge of ADHD" he
addressed Benjamin Feingold's claim:
"Most of the substantial research done over the next
decade [after Feingold announced his theory] was
simply unable to substantiate Feingold's claim. In fact,
only a very small number (5% or less) of mainly preschoolers
showed a slight increase in activity or inattentiveness
when consuming these substances. No evidence has ever
been provided that normal children develop ADHD or that
ADHD children are made considerably worse by eating them."
Barkley also addresses another myth about diet--that sugar
"Not a single scientific study has been provided by proponents
to support these claims. Since 1987 a number of scientific
studies of sugar have been conducted, and these have generally
There are number of people who promote low-sugar diets for
treatment of ADHD. The diets with the best self-reported
success rates tend to be extremely structured. Researchers
believe that the success of those diets comes not from
lower sugar levels, but from the increased structure
in the child's life and changed parental expectations.
A healthy diet can only help any child, but none of the
diet-based theories about the cause of ADHD have panned out.
Research has established that ADHD is linked strongly
to heredity, and current research points to inherent
chemical imbalances in the brain. In light of these findings,
it seems unrealistic for parents to pin their hopes
on diet as a solution to the problems associated with ADHD.
With regard to info of interest re ADD, John Taylor, PhD has written
several books on the subject and also speaks nationally about nutrition
and ADHD. He also includes why nutritional blue green algae shows
benefits in many cases across the country.
My son has recently been diagnosed with ADD. In many ways it
explains some of the difficulties he has been having in school.He
does not have the emotional or behavioral difficulties that often
complicate this condition but has great difficulty with focus,
concentration, impulsive behavior etc... He is repeating 2nd
grade and not doing much better than before. As I look back it
makes sense to me that his father (we are now divorced) also
likely shares this condition although it was never diagnosed or
My seven year old son has been diagnosed with ADHD. It's pretty
obvious, and I know he needs help. Although stimulants are
recommended I am curious to know if there are parents who have had
luck with any alternative treatments: homeopathy, behavioral mod.
etc. I would also be interested in any success stories from anyone
using the medications. I'm just concerned about long term medication
on a still delveloping brain. Are my fears unfounded?
I tried everything possible to avoid medication. We waited till he was
almost 7 yrs. I tried the OPC-3, a health food drink with documented
improvement with many kids with ADHD. I tried for about 4 months, with a
teenie bit of relief. With school progressing, and his situation getting
more demanding, we finally conceded to Ritalin. The result is remarkable.
He is now on a time released all day medication.. It has made an amazing
change in his life, and the rest of our family. Getting him to eat is the
only , but large problem. That is my constant challenge to get him to eat,
let alone foods that are high in calories, but healthy. I choose not to
share this with the school. He still is a wonderful, but very tough child.
I can completely relate to your concerns regarding longterm affects of
medicine on a growing body. And I think they are valid concerns. When my
(then) 5 year old was diagnosed 2 weeks before the start of Kindergarten, I
resisted medication for the same reason. I spent a year and a half trying
alternatives including several different homeopathists, and a food allergy
theory that basically eliminated wheat, sugar and milk products (this was
really hard!). Although I believe we gave all approaches a fair amount of
time, sadly, they did absolutely nothing for our daughter. As a result, she
had a miserable Kindergarten experience, and only a somewhat better First
Grade experience (mostly because of a great teacher who was willing to go
way out her way to help her). Mid-way through First Grade, I caved and
decided to try traditional medicine. As much as I hate to say it, I now
believe this is the right road and only wish I had done it sooner. My
daughter, now in second grade, can actually sit and listen and take turns
and cultivate friendships, etc. The key, I think, is to have a doctor that
is well-versed in the condition as well as the available meds and their
possible side-effects - a doctor that has the sense to start small and is
willing to closely moniter your child's health. For instance, the medicine
my daughter is on has been known to cause heart problems in a very small
number of cases. Some doctors' approach is to say just that and assume your
child statistically will fall in the category of no harm done. Instead, my
daughter's doctor requests regular EKG's at Children's where an expert can
look for the slightest anomaly. These are powerful drugs and it is very
scary to put your child on them. But I think if it's done with care and
intelligence, it's worth it. You have to weigh that against the emotional
damage and lowered self-esteem that occurs when they are constantly getting
into trouble at school and when noone wants to be your child's friend. Best
of luck to you as you make this difficult decision.
this page was last updated: May 17, 2013
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