The decision of how you’re going to treat your child’s ADHD is a pretty personal one. For that reason I was hesitant to publicly share our decision to choose medication for Grasshopper. For some reason there’s a bad stigma out there for choosing medication for children with ADHD/ADD. Unfortunately, that bad stigma comes largely from misinformation. What’s worse, parents like myself are often judged for making this decision for our children. For those reasons, I’ve decided to share our story.
A while ago I shared a post explaining that we were in the process of choosing how to treat Grasshopper’s ADHD. Now, I would like to go into more detail on how we came to this decision and the results we’ve noticed.
I am a huge fan of all things natural. We don’t use any chemicals to clean our house. I love using essential oils to help with headaches, colds, flu, even Ladybug’s muscle tone from her cerebral palsy. I even tried to use essential oils for Grasshopper’s ADHD before he was diagnosed.
All that being said, I’m also not opposed to medication. Yes, I believe God gave us things in nature to treat numerous things. However, I also believe that God gave us intelligent doctors and the resources needed to develop medication when needed.
Ok, on to natural remedies. In our research, I came across several tricks to treat ADHD naturally. I’ve read up on diet restrictions, supplements, oils, and more. There are a couple reasons we opted to not go the natural route. One of the reasons is that they’re not as researched. It’s hard to tell how long you will need to try a natural remedy to see results. It’s also harder to tell when what you’ve tried has left your child’s system. Plus, even if you are seeing results, are those results as effective as medication?
Another reason, is the time and money involved. Let’s be honest if you’re going to treat your child’s ADHD with diet, you will spend a lot of time researching what foods your child will and will not be able to eat. Then, those food options left to you will more than likely be more expensive causing your grocery bill to rise. For some people this isn’t a problem, but for us it is a valid concern. Oh, and then you have to wonder if your child will even eat what you’re offering them.
I think the main reason so many people get the idea that medication is bad, is due to information they’ve received that simply isn’t true. I would like to address some of those concerns here.
Will It Change Their Personality?
Many parents, myself included, are worried what giving medication to your child with ADHD will do to their personality. The last thing we want is to change who they are. We love them quirks and all.
In our experience, the opposite has been true. Grasshopper still has the exact same personality, just without the impulsive behavior and epic meltdowns. Ok, we still have a meltdown here and there, but not nearly as frequently as before. I would even say that his personality is shining brighter since beginning the medication. He’s not as impulsive, more focused and we see his thoughtful caring heart shine through more than in the past.
Will Using Medication Them Lead To Drug Addiction?
This is another common concern, that choosing medication when they’re children will cause them to be dependent on drugs. In all actuality, studies have shown the opposite to be true. Individuals with ADHD who did not use medication are actually more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol than those who were treated with medication. Essentially, they find an unhealthy way to self medicate.
Will They Be Climbing the Walls if They Miss a Dose?
We’ve all heard stories where a child forgets to take their medication one morning and they are uncontrollable. This one is actually true. If you’re child misses their medication you will notice a difference. However, the thing you need to understand about this form of medication is that it is in and out of your child’s system in one day. Essentially if you’re child misses a dose, they are simply removing the mask if you will. You’re simply seeing what their typical behavior would be like if they were not on medication.
Loss of Appetite
This is a common side effect of the medication. For some kids it can be a real problem, we haven’t noticed it as a big problem yet. Grasshopper isn’t snacking as much during the day, but his meal portions haven’t decreased any. If it is a problem for your child, the best advice is to make sure they get a great hearty breakfast (before the medication kicks in for the day) and a big supper. Of course still feed them lunch and let them have healthy snacks whenever they say they’re hungry. Expect them to want to eat a lot at night (when the medication wears off).
Does it Mean I’m a Bad Parent?
Choosing medication for your child does not make you a bad or lazy parent. It’s simply not true. Don’t believe it. In fact, simply reading this means you’re not a bad parent, you’re researching options to find the best solution for your child. Since when is helping your child a bad thing?
If anyone dares to judge you based on your decision to choose medication, share this with them. Chances are they are simply misinformed. They probably heard some bad story about what happened to their neighbor’s cousin’s best friend’s kid. Never let anyone’s judgement of your treatment decision change how you parent your child. No one else is with your child all the time, they don’t see what you see. They don’t see your child struggle. You’re the parent, it’s your decision. Proudly wear your mama bear shirt and remind them who’s boss!
The concerns listed above are probably the ones that make ADHD medication have such a bad reputation. The choice to begin medication for Grasshopper was not taken lightly. We did our research, talked to his doctor and essentially decided to give it a try. There were a few points that brought us to the decision.
In and Out of Their Body in One Day
Unlike natural remedies, we would know if the medication was working on the first day. We would also notice any adverse effects quickly. Other than figuring out the correct dosage, there isn’t a lot of guess work involved to judge its effectiveness.
Medication Combined With Occupational Therapy
We didn’t decide to just medicate Grasshopper and see what happens. We combined it with occupational therapy to teach Grasshopper various coping strategies. He learned tools to determine how his “engine” (body) was feeling, low, just right, or high. He was then given ways to bring his “engine” back to just right. Combining these two together have had amazing results for Grasshopper.
ADHD Struggles Meant Learning Struggles
Before treating his ADHD, Grasshopper was constantly frustrated, and stressed trying to learn. He also struggles with dyslexia. You could just imagine how trying to learn how to read as a dyslexic child while having the inability to focus can cause even greater struggles. The meltdowns, impulsive behaviors, and frustrations were awful.
Everyday we were not treating Grasshopper’s ADHD meant another day he wasn’t learning to his potential. It meant another day he hated school and reading. It was another day he was struggling more than he needed to.
When it came down to it, we realized that we weren’t doing him any favors by not at least giving medication a try. It’s been a few months now, and I honestly feel it was the best decision we made.
Our 1 Bad Result of Medication
The only bad result of medication we’ve experienced is that Grasshopper started having a harder time falling asleep. What was happening is that when the medication wore off at the end of the day, he had a lot of new energy to get rid of. I wrote more about how we helped his sleeping problem here.
**Edited to add** Since I wrote this post, Grasshopper has also been diagnosed with autism. I have also learned children with autism often struggle with insomnia. It is possible is sleeping struggles are more a result of autism than his ADHD medication. We have experimented with adjusting the time we give Grasshopper his medication and it did not seem to have any impact on his ability to fall asleep at night.
Grasshopper is now overall happier, more focused, and he even enjoys reading these days. As I said before, choosing medication is a very personal decision. If you’re able to make a more natural treatment option work for your child by all means go for it. My hope in sharing our story is to knock down some of the common concerns with choosing medication.
Remember for all the bad stories out there in regards to medication there are so many more success stories.
Just like treating depression, treating ADHD with medication shouldn’t carry a bad stigma.