As a parent, you know your children. You know their favorite foods and which ones they should stay away from; when they are getting sick or when a tantrum is brewing; when they are lying or in need of extra attention.
I think it's safe to say: you are the leading expert on your children.
But are you an expert in ADHD medication and the treatment system? Should you be?
Probably not. So what IS your role? And what CAN you do as “parent expert” to help your child get the most effective medication?
The Challenge of the Medical System
I'm a medical expert and I understand the system. Yet recently, my prescription was lost in the mail and for 23 days. I felt helpless, frustrated and held hostage to a system that showed little mercy. It was crazy – I was just trying to advocate for my own healthcare.
The medical, pharmaceutical and insurance providers have created a treatment system that even has medical experts feeling stymied. So I completely understand when parents feel the need to step into the role of the ADHD medication expert. It is only natural.
Parents on the front lines step up as advocates for our children – because we have to. When my son was diagnosed I remember hoping someone had the answers I needed about ADHD. I was disappointed when I realized most didn't.
If you are like me, at a time when it seems the world is swirling, you want someone who knows exactly how to treat ADHD so you can put your trust in them. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple.
So what are you to do when it seems like the experts don't have the answers and your child's well being lies in the balance?
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Taking Matters into Your Own Hands
To fill in the gap, it is tempting to become the ADHD medication manager for your children. Having done your due diligence, you may want to request specific medication you have read or heard about. Or to increase or decrease the dosage of ADHD medication your child takes, trying to find the most effective fit. With the best intentions you may even give or withhold your child's medication.
I know. I have been there, too.
And herein lies our dilemma.
The Importance of the Parent Advocate
When we inadvertently hijack the role of medication expert, we lose the power that we have in our role as the parent expert.
Parents need to advocate for our children. In fact, it is what we are uniquely qualified to do.
No one knows better than you the day-to-day experience of your child. No one but you can answer questions about how they are eating, or how they are sleeping. If they seem happy, you know what tips them from energetic, spontaneous and charming children to emotionally overwhelmed kids in less than 2 seconds. You know how long it takes them to do their homework, and how much of it they complete independently.
Your expertise is essential as the parent of your child. No one knows but you what goes on in your home. No one else can communicate these specifics to your child's doctor, teachers, etc.
You are a critical part of the team that is needed to make sure your child gets the best treatment and resources available.
Role of the Parent in Medication Management
What can you, as parent expert, do to help your child get the most effective medication?
- Keep detailed records of side effects, dosage, and behaviors
- Be the liaison between your doctor and the school
- Make sure your child is taking the medication as prescribed so you and the doctor are comparing apples to apples
- Track medication effectiveness
- Keep abreast of new info
- Respect individuality of your child verses someone else…medication is very specific to each person and what works for one person may not work for another.
The world of ADHD is an evolving and imperfect one. Fully stepping into your role as parent expert fills an often overlooked gap in the treatment system. Following the above guidelines maximizes your expertise as your child's “parent,” and keeps you where you belong – as an essential member of your child's success team.