ADHD medication or no medication? That is the question, especially for parents of complex kids. While medication is not the only treatment for ADHD, in many cases it can provide a lot of support. Guest expert Dr. Mark Bertin offers guidance about what to expect with ADHD medication.
Dr. Bertin’s Primary Advice: Be Prepared for Trial and Error
“What you’re looking for when you start the medications is that you get improvement in that core set with NO side effects.”
In other words, your child may have to try a few different medications to find a good fit. But in the end, that extra time is worth it, especially since medication is just a starting point.
All kids with ADHD need to work on improving some behavioral skills, and sometimes the extra support of medication can help them master symptoms such as focusing, finishing tasks, and being less impulsive. Dr. Bertin explains: “The goal of the medication is to get to the point where you’re not getting in your own way because of these symptoms anymore. It’s not the symptoms themselves that are so important, it’s what the symptoms are doing.”
ADHD is a “brain-based disorder,” and medication can be a key component to helping your child learn to manage a complicated brain. It can even lead to your child mastering other skills. As Dr. Bertin says, “You do get a domino effect sometimes. If you become more focused you may become more organized. It’s not organizational skills that improve, it’s because you’re more focused.”
There are a number of things to keep in mind if you’re considering ADHD medication for your kid:
- It’s not the only tool in your toolbox, but it can be a huge help for kids whose brains work a little differently.
- Dr. Bertin says that some kids with ADHD may know that they shouldn’t be acting out, but they don’t know any other way.
- Medication can help your efforts as a parent to teach your child with ADHD to practice self-management and learn behavior management. But it's not a quick fix – you have to allow time to find the right medication for each child.
To learn more about what to expect with ADHD medication, tune-in to this interview with Dr. Bertin.
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