The Medication Controversy

Time and time again, I find myself in conversations about the use of medication for children with ADHD.  I certainly don’t try to find these conversations; they just seem to find me.

Most of the time these are with parents who are weighing the pros and cons of giving their children medication.  Now, I am no expert.  I don’t tell anyone what to do—that’s a personal decision.  I just know what works for us and what the Lord has told me through prayer.

Recently, I found myself having one of these conversations with our new pediatric neurologist.  We didn't agree.  Only minutes after meeting us and asking what medication the boys take, he asked if we take them off their medication during the summer to give them a “rest.” 

Now, if you’ve ever seen my boys without their medication, there will be lots of words that come to mind, but rest is surely not one of them!  In addition to the hyperactivity, impulsivity and inability to focus, comes anxiety, inability to stop thinking (certainly not restful), difficulty changing gears, and being easily irritated and irritating.  At the end of a day, they are exhausted, but sleep escapes them, and they remain awake for hours, often until the sun comes up.

So, why would one consider a “rest” from the medication that helps them to live a “normal” life and to enjoy it immensely?  Is it because we can’t “see” a physical problem and therefore, have no tangible way to measure its helpfulness?

If they had a heart condition or epilepsy, say, would we consider giving them a “rest” from the medication that kept them alive, or at the very least, allowed them to have a typical life (I use that term loosely)?

Needless to say, we did not choose to give the boys a “rest” because it just wouldn’t be restful and would interfere greatly with their ability to enjoy this day, the next day and every day.  It is the help they receive from medication that allows them to be all they were created to be, to build Lego creations for hours, to hang out with friends, to tap into their gifts and skills to use them, and to just be themselves.

Andrew had his annual physical a week ago with Dr. Baker (we love Dr. Baker!).  After sharing this experience with him, his comment was that it is unfortunate that many professionals still consider ADHD an academic problem rather than a life problem.  The symptoms of ADHD don’t just interfere with academics; they interfere with one’s life and the quality of it.

We have searched far and wide for professionals who truly understand all that is affected by ADHD.  There is so much more to it than meets the eye.  These children struggle with daily life skills that you and I don’t even think about for a moment.

I am happy to say that, for the most part, we are blessed to have wonderful professionals to work with who truly understand not just ADHD, but my children who happen to have ADHD.

They see the whole person, not just the disability. They understand how it affects the quality of life, not just the quality of school (although that is important also). They are interested in our input, as they believe we have much to offer to the puzzle.  For all of this we are grateful.

Looks like our search for a pediatric neurologist continues…