ADHD: to medicate or not to medicate

Two years ago our third son Joshua woke up. For the first 18 months of his life he was a very quiet baby. He really was TOO easy-going. He rarely cried and he was missing his developmental milestones. We had been in physical and occupational therapy for 9 months and at 18 months he started to walk, finally. It was at that point that a different child started to emerge. He started throwing monster tantrums. Most kids that age start the tantrum stuff, but this was way beyond anything my other two had done before. He also started to become very capable physically and started climbing and getting into things. This is also normal for that age kid, but this was extreme. It was a few months later he broke his arm because he was climbing on our slide and just fell off. He had absolutely no self-awareness of where his body was in space. It was shortly after that he spoke his first word at age two. It was “mine” which he yelled loudly at our other son who took his toy. He was still really behind developmentally and we were concerned he might have autism. We got him tested and they said he did not, thank goodness, but we were still left wondering what was wrong with our son. At age two we were sent to a developmental pediatrician. That is a pediatrician that specializes in children with developmental delays and other disabilities. He said Joshua did not have autism, but he thought he may have ADHD. I was shocked really, that a doctor would suggest such a thing in a child that young. I have a degree in psychology so I knew a bit about ADHD and I will tell you that I was a bit skeptical. I was one of those people who felt that most children with ADHD would be just fine if their parents just did a better job of discipline. I was appalled at parents who would medicate children for ADHD especially preschoolers. So, I left the doctor’s office and really didn’t believe anything he said. We saw him six months later and Joshua’s tantrums were getting worse and his impulsivity was also getting worse. The doctor said to me, “maybe you should try medication for him”. I said, “absolutely not”.

Fast forward to a month ago and I was heading to yet another developmental pediatrician appointment and I was at the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do, but I couldn’t handle Joshua’s behavior anymore. The crazy thing is that he would only throw tantrums and be defiant at home, not at school or church. I had decided I had to explore the medication option because his impulsivity was becoming a major issue. He would run out into traffic when I said not to and couldn’t seem to control himself. He was spending most of his days in time out. I had tried everything and nothing was working. I felt so guilty saying I wanted to try medication for my child when he was only having issues at home. I felt like a failure as a parent. I told the doctor about all our issues and he suggested medication again. So, we tried it. A month ago we started a very low dose of ADHD medication for Joshua.

In one months time, he has potty trained, something we could not get him to do before. And his behavior has improved so much. We aren’t about to go insane at our house anymore. 🙂 I went to his parent teacher conference last week and he is doing so well in school they are going to let him start visiting the four-year old class. Such progress in this last month. Coincidence, I think not. I was feeling so horrible for putting my three-year old on ADHD meds, and I swore I would never tell anyone about it. I have to say though that I need to tell other people about it. If you are a parent with a young child with ADHD and they are struggling with behaviors that you cannot control, don’t feel guilty for trying medication. It has made our son a happier child and our household a more peaceful place, well as peaceful as it can be with four boys. I struggled for so long with my decision to medicate my son, and I had to come to a breaking point before I did it. I wish I would have done it sooner. My pediatrician said to me, you would medicate someone who had diabetes wouldn’t you? ADHD is a chemical imbalance just like diabetes is. I would still say, you should try behavioral options before starting medication, but if that doesn’t work, medication just might be the right answer. It was for our family.


One thought on “ADHD: to medicate or not to medicate

  1. The decision to put Todd on ADHD medication was just as difficult for us. But what the doctor said is true…you would medicate another medical issue so why not this one? Todd is getting ready to start on his third dosage raise but we are seeing such major improvements each time that I think this will do it. Our life has become easier, even though we still have challenging days/moments, but to know he can think clearly and get things done without all the frustration it really makes it worth it.

    I firmly believe parents need to know what you have just said. It really is about treating something that can not be controlled by discipline or even more love. There is something going on that is just not quite “right” and it’s only fair to give our kids EVERY opportunity to feel and be their best!

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