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Old 07-14-2012, 12:58 PM   #1
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decision to medicate or not in high school


This is my first time here. We are facing a decision on whether or not to medicate our son, 17 years old. He has the classic textbook symptoms of 'inattentive type' ADHD, which was his diagnosis based on a recent exam. We see a neurologist for another issue, and this would be the doctor who would prescribe meds. He would like to try Vyvanse, if in fact we decide to go this route.

I'm particularly concerned about side effects, specifically tics and other movement disorders, as he has mild hand tremors already. I also don't like the thought of this affecting him long term. And clearly if the side effects were negative, we would stop and cut our losses. I am not in this for massive experimentation. But is it possible that tics and the like could become permanent?

I am torn, as he has "made it this far." However, his grades are not great and he seems to have tremendous difficulty organizing his thoughts, assignments and belongings. What if this medication is the key to his focusing problems, and can bring him from a C student to an A student? (which of course would also mean that perform at this level, he'd need to take the meds forever...?)

Has anyone been through this, medicated or not, and what was the outcome? We have a few tests scheduled this week to make sure he's OK to start the medication, but we aren't deciding until August. The doctor wanted him to have a month or so to get used to it before school starts.

Thanks, and I welcome any input.

Edit: in re-reading, I wanted to add that his performance was better this past academic year, with an annual GPA of just around an 80. So we know he is capable, but he is erratic.

Last edited by wilberry228; 07-14-2012 at 01:07 PM.

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Old 07-14-2012, 06:42 PM   #2
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Re: decision to medicate or not in high school

The medicine rarely causes serious lasting side effects. At the same time, it's not a new kid in a bottle, it just helps him have more good-brain days and fewer bad-brain days. If his study skills or organizational skills are erratic, he'll need to learn better ones, and the best person to teach them is an ADHD coach. (Not a therapist, a coach who helps teach specific life skills.)

I was diagnosed and medicated at 19, and it made a big difference. I took the medicine for about two years, got through the roughest part of college, and developed my organizational skills. Now I know how to manage my ADHD better, and I've found a job that plays to my strengths, so I don't take medication. (I'm now 31.)

Keep in mind, he's still a child, but he's very close to adulthood. You're still the parent, the decision is yours, but he has to be involved and understand what's going on here. One reason why my treatment worked so fast was that I chose it, I was the one who pursued diagnosis (with my loving parents' support and money) and once diagnosed, I worked at my treatment. From the outside, I may have looked unmotivated, but I really did want to do well, I just couldn't figure out how.

Old 07-15-2012, 04:35 PM   #3
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Re: decision to medicate or not in high school

Thank you Jane, that is really very helpful. I've tried for years to work with him on organizational skills and techniques, but in the end, it's always been me organizing him and I finally recognized that this wasn't really helping him in the long run. I do understand that the medication isn't going to make him ace tests and finish all his homework. He still has to put forth the effort. That's why I wrestle - will it be possible to get him to put forth the effort *without* the medication?

I am glad to hear that you only needed the medication for two years, that is also hopeful news for me. And I do believe he is as you say in your last sentence, that he wants to do well, he just can't quite bring it to fruition. He doesn't get into trouble or anything, and he really is doing work. He's just not doing it right, or not paying attention while he does it, I don't really know.

We have the added problem that he won't swallow pills; whatever he takes will have to be broken up and mixed with something.

I've never heard of an ADHD coach. I'll look into that as well. Thank you again for the reply, and glad to hear you've done so well.

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