Summer on ADHD Medication: The Good and The Ugly

Our five-year-old T started medication for ADHD in July. It has yielded positive and challenging results so far.

Starting T on medication was a very hard decision. But we made this decision because we knew the potential rewards were worth trying and worst case scenario, we could stop it.

We started him in early July. He was home with us for two weeks – transitioning between the end of school and the start of day camp.

Aside from a week away on our family roadtrip in early August, T was in day camp for six weeks.

This is the same before and after school and staff team that he’s been with from last September to March before lockdown. This summer, he was in a class with only 4 other kids and 2 teachers.

We had a call with his day camp teachers last Friday as an end of summer check in about T.

They said that they have seen a growth in T since March.

He is more communicative and expresses his desire to play with other kids. He is able to sit down and enjoy lunch with them.

They said T likes to share stories about what he did on the weekend with his Papa and Daddy. It’s a joy for staff to see him come out of his shell.

They said that T likes to be a comedian and likes to see other people laugh.

On the flip side, behaviour continues to be a big challenge.

They said while he can focus a little more, they don’t see a big change in this area. Sitting down to complete an activity like art or writing is not something T can do.

Social behaviour and emotional regulation are also a struggle.

When T doesn’t get his way, he screams and gets upset. He sometimes grabs the kids. When T has outbursts, he would hit other kids and teachers.

As a result of this behaviour, the kids sometimes get scared of him and don’t want to play with him and he would then play by himself.

They said that T is not grasping the idea that kids sometimes need their own space.

They said that T likes to copy and mimic the other kids and the kids sometimes get annoyed at this, but T doesn’t understand that they don’t like it and he keeps doing it.

The staff are great to work with. They know how to use behavioural strategies to redirect T. They often ask him to go to his cubby and to calm down.

Staff said T is able to calm himself down quickly but often comes back and repeats the same behaviour.

Staff noted that T doesn’t like being in trouble. He feels remorseful. He is aware. They see this as a positive growth and maturity.

I am appreciative for the honest feedback. I like people who don’t sugarcoat things, as it gives us a clear picture of his growth and challenges.

While it was a bit disheartening to hear the problem areas, I have to remind myself of a few things: 1) T was only in camp for six weeks, 2) T was outside of a school environment for four months and 3) the teachers said they see growth and gains too.

It’s funny to think – and I know I’m not the only parent who feels this – that medication is not the be-all and end-all. It’s not going to fix our T overnight.

Like many kids with the same prognosis, T’s struggle with hyperactivity, sitting to complete a task, emotional regulation, and understanding social cues will present him with challenges moving forward.

I feel both apprehensive and hopeful for what the new school year will bring, but I am not naive enough to think that there will be no struggles. There will be many many of them.

We’ve also had to adjust his medication dosage – in consultation with his developmental pediatrician – because he was getting intense moments of rage. Removing the third dosage in the late afternoon has helped.

The hubby and I have decided to wait and see how T does in school this Fall to get a proper picture of the efficacy of medication.

We are well aware that medication is a trial and error journey.

For now, we see many positives and reasons to feel hopeful and to stay the course. As for the continued challenges, we will not let them knock us or T down.

We’re gonna and we gotta keep looking and moving forward. There’s no other choice.

11 thoughts on “Summer on ADHD Medication: The Good and The Ugly

  1. That is wonderful that T has had benefits from being on medication, but also frustrating for the behaviors that still challenge him and those around him. I also like the honest feedback I get about D when he is in a social or learning environment. I love his 1/1 aid, but all I have ever heard from her are all the positives from Declan’s day. I really want to see the WHOLE picture. I get you on that. That is awesome that T’s professionals will share that with you. I hope you have a great week ahead and school year beyond! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robyn. We’re pretty lucky that the school and after school program he was in last year – and going into this year – have amazingly supportive staff who want to work with us and T but also keep it real. Can’t ask for more and want to hang onto this good fortune while we can.

      The medication has been very good for T but his behavioral challenges are sometimes very difficult to deal with. I have to remind myself in the trying times that it’s a result of his invisible disability and that he has made so many positive gains.

      We’re gonna enjoy the last week of camp. School starts next week. From what we’ve been reading on the news and hearing from teacher friends, it’s gonna be a bit of a shit show. 😂

      Enjoy and good luck with your upcoming week!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think medication is a last resort, that is why I am still contemplating medication for my daughter as I know too well of the side effects to stimulants when they wear off in the afternoon. Luckily my daughter is only really aggressive with me and sometimes kids if they “don’t play by the rules”. Must be hard I know my girl is super outgoing and had her in child care from the age of two which is probably why she is social. They are all different she also has trouble socially because she can get worked up pretty quick. When she is one on one you wouldn’t even know she had ADHD then when her brother is around she seems to get so angry I’ll admit he is a stirrer. Hoping school goes well for T.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Emma. The aggressive behaviour is very challenging to deal with and I can see this being a big issue as he gets older, if it is not contained, and especially if he encounters teachers and principals who do not understand his invisible disability.

      I think you are correct in being cautious about medication. You know your daughter best. Did you end up deciding what to do?

      I don’t mean to pry but do you have access to services for your daughter? We have found occupational and behavioral therapy services to be especially helpful for our little T. He’s a work in progress but these services have made such an impact on him and on our lives.

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      1. My daughter doesn’t have any other services other than the pediatrician once every few months. I have asked for behaviour therapy but haven’t gotten anywhere. I’m waiting for approval for ritalin. Whether I give the medication I’m just mulling over. Let’s just say she can focus if it’s something she wants to do. Seems a defiance thing but I don’t fully understand ADHD and why they can’t just sit lol.

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    1. Thanks Diane! We are always stepping forward with cautious optimism and I hope that T has equally great success with senior kindergarten this year as with your grandson. Fingers crossed for all of our kids this year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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