MY 9 YR OLD IS ON CONCERTA AND WON'T GAIN WEIGHT.

MALANA - posted on 02/06/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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SHE HAS BEEN ON STRATERA, SARTIN AT AGE 5. NOW THEY HAVE HER ON 27 MG CONCERTA. SHE WILL BE TEN IN MAY AND SHE HAS OMLY GAINED MASYBE 4 LBS. IN 3 YEARS! HER CURRENT WEIGHT IS, 52 LBS.! BUT WITHOUT HER MEDS. IT'S LIKE NIGHT AND DAY. ON MEDS, NORMAL, A LITTLE ANXIETY, STAYS PRETTY FOCUSED. NO MEDS., ITS LIKE A MANIC STATE FOR HER. CUTTING STUFF UP WITH SCISSORS, LIKE OTHER THAN PAPER, SUMTIMES I FIND CLOTHING OR BLANKETS CUT ON, DRAWING ON STUFF KNOWING SHE SHUDNT. NO SENSE OF TIME, LAST ONE ASLEEP, AND FIRST ONE AWAKE. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON OUR SITUATION WILL BE VERY WELCOME. THANX

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Tanya - posted on 02/08/2010

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My 11 year old son is on the same dose of Concerta as your daughter and he too was below average in his weight. However, this is a normal side effect for just about all the meds for ADHD because the meds decrease the appetite so they don't eat enough. What you need to do is make everything that goes into her count. We bought my son Boost and PediaSure to drink when his appetite wasn't that great and it worked. In one month he has put on 4 pounds which is a record for him and he finally looks like a typical small framed 11 year old rather than a 7 year old. Also kids with ADHD are very active and burn off the calories they take in very quickly so that doesn't help neither. This is why we used the nutritional drinks because it gave him excess calories that could stay with him rather than him burning them off.

Shaunacy - posted on 02/16/2010

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rock (you) hard place. stimulant meds cause appetite suppression (part of why meth addicts are frequently waif-ish), and in extreme cases anorexia, but the need for those meds is obviously very real. know that you are not alone as a parent, and your daughter is not alone as a person with ad/hd.

lots of great advice in the posts so far. the nutrition drinks are a great idea as long as your child can and will drink them.

a few other words of advice:
1)PROTEIN for BREAKFAST! protein (particularly animal proteins--meats, eggs, etc) in the am will help her burn calories more efficiently throughout the day, help her mind focus, provides her body with the essential elements to gain weight by building lean muscle mass, AND is a good source of the calories she needs.

2) WATCH HER CARB INTAKE! if your daughter's anything like most people with ad/hd, she at least goes through cycles of carb fiendishness. it's normal, and completely logical, and one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. carbs are SUPER easy to digest, AND they give us the quick-fix energy boost that our minds need to stay focused (which our problems with focus are sometimes severely compounded by our seeming inability to maintain adequate nutrition and bmi). the trick is to make the carbs count. switch, where possible, to whole/multi-grain , high fiber carbs, and try to save those for daytime grazing.

3)ENCOURAGE "MINI-MEALS": once upon a time, when we were all farmers, ranchers, etc., our cultural predisposition to three, large, protein-fat meals per day made since. now we are no longer a largely agricultural society, but we continue to function in many ways as if we are, and one of the most obvious ways in which we demonstrate this is through our eating habits. simply breaking her daily caloric intake down into 5-7 mini-meals and snacks can be far less challenging for the digestive system, especially if you have problems with appetite. if she has animal protein in the morning before her meds, and animal protein as part of a light dinner/supper, she should be fine to eat 3-4 nutritious snack-meals during the day. go get some snack bags and pre-make bags of snack-meal components that can be mixed and matched. snack bags of pre-cut cheese slices, fresh fruits and vegetables, high fiber crackers, peanuts, etc. snacking will enable her to maintain her blood sugar, and get in more calories in doses small enough that her digestive system isn't overwhelmed.

4)HOTDOGS FOR BREAKFAST CAN BE A GOOD THING: experiment. don't limit yourself by what foods are traditionally linked to what mealtime. simple truth: some of us just CAN'T do breakfast for breakfast. cereal's easy; it's "light," easy to digest, and a quick source of energy. however, it doesn't usually come with the protein that the ad/hd brain needs. other traditional breakfast foods can feel too heavy (often times because of their high fat content/greasiness) for many people (these are usually the ones that are still eating cocoa puffs/cold pizza for breakfast in their 30's and beyond, or who develop the habit of skipping breakfast altogether), so try less-heavy sources of nutrition for breakfast that you would normally serve for lunch or dinner. rolls of lunch meat, hotdogs, spaghetti w/ meatballs, etc can sometimes help change the struggle to eat in the am.

5)IT'S CALLED BREAK-FAST FOR A REASON: when you're, essentially, starving, every bite counts, and every meal or snack is breakfast! as we starve, our stomachs seem to shrink. one or two bites can feel like a meal, so warm the stomach up before feeding it. try giving your daughter a few bites of something light and slightly acidic (like fruit or kosher dill pickles) 15 to 30 minutes before meals. it wakes the stomach up without overwhelming it such that the system shuts down, and should allow her to actually feel at least a little hungry by meal-time. as most mothers know, things like couple of saltines (or the like) can work just as well. remember: it's NOT that her body doesn't want to eat; her brain chemistry & the meds are just over-ruling her stomach as they prioritise activities and focus, and her stomach has likely forgotten what it was like to be listened to or satisfied.

6) (i can't stress this enough) HYDRATION, HYDRATION, HYDRATION!!! read the information that comes with your/your daughter's prescriptions. almost every drug out there has "mild to moderate cotton/dry mouth" listed as a possible side effect. that translates (though most people--including doctors and pharmacists--don't really realise it): this drug will dehydrate you, at least, slightly. if you combine that fact with any other sources of dehydration (which the average person is already dehydrated without ever knowing it) like cold and allergy meds, high activity level, arid environments, etc., meds that have even a mild dehydrating effect can have far greater impact on body systems and functioning.
our bodies are supposed to be composed of up to 60% water. the brain is composed of 70% water. dehydration, even mild dehydration, can dramatically impact our body & brain's ability to function. if your brain is dehydrated it will not process information and focus properly.
we tend to drink with meals, which is good, because it simultaneously provides the hydration our bodies need to engage in the process of digestion. if we are failing to eat, we are often also experiencing a reduction in our fluid intake. by the time the average human feels/recognises thirst, it has already depleted approximately 1/3 of it's base functioning hydration. since the body actually requires hydration over nutrition, it won't accept and absorb the latter until it has the former! since the emancipation of the concentration camps of WWII, where we tried to immediately feed emaciated survivors only to discover that they had to hydrated/restored to an adequate electrolyte/fluid level over the course of days and weeks before being able to process nutrition properly, we've learned a lot about hydration as it impacts the various organs and systems of the body.
reduce your daughter's intake of dehydrating beverages (like sodas--even caffeine free sodas & especially diet sodas), and increase her intake of hydrating fluids such as water, cranberry based juices cut with water, and pedialyte or dilluted gatorade**. this should help her process what food she does eat more efficiently, feel hunger more frequently, and perform basic brain functions (focus, emotional controls, etc) with greater frequency and efficiency.
another thing to keep in mind is that plants can be up to 90% water. fruits and vegetables are frequently high in fluids/water. (that's in addition to all of the other daily nutrients they provide.) if you've ever had the misfortune of losing a cucumber in the bottom of your fridge, only to find it again months later as a shriveled, fluid filled husk, you know exactly what i'm talking about.
** Gatorade was originally developed by a Florida Football coach to replace fluids and electrolytes in athletes engaged in heavy training (especially in high heat environments), and as such, should only been ingested at full strength by people in those (or extremely similar) conditions (eg. olympic athletes, marathon runners, etc.). failure to dilute gatorade in the average (or even hyperactive) body will create an electrolyte imbalance in body systems, which in turn, impedes the body's ability to perform all functions from the cellular level up to higher brain function. for the average person, diluting gatorade with water at ratio between 1:1 and 1:2 parts water to gatorade will prevent imbalance, and promote balance throughout the system. electrolytes play a major role in cellular functions such as repair and waste elimination, so balance is vital!

7) DAILY VITAMINS: if you can't eat, you have to take vitamins; growing bodies and minds need those vitamins and minerals to develop properly. it may not be ideal, but supplementing with even a basic pediatric daily multi-vitamin should (over a little time) enable your daughter to at least maintain the weight she's gained thus far, and protect her body from utter malnutrition. try the gummy vitamins; the texture on gummy vitamins is often more easily accepted (particularly in people with appetite or hydration issues) in my experience. sure, maybe they're slightly higher in sugar than the traditional chewable vitamins, but they don't leave that gritty feeling all the way down your upper digestive track. watch her iron intake! iron can be really harsh on the stomach, but it crucial to helping underweight people remain healthy. too much will "eat a hole in" the stomach lining, too little and pernicious anemia can set in. b-vitamins are also extremely important for underweight people (especially pre-pubescent to adolescent girls).

above all, it's important to remember that as stressful as this is for you as a parent, it's a billion times more stressful for her for many reasons. i don't know if you've ever gone a day without eating for whatever reason, but if you have, take a few minutes to remember what your body and mind felt like. multiply that by weeks, months, years of inadequate nutrition, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what your daughter likely feels, but may not be able to express; it's like running around all day in a painful fog. being underweight/malnutrition causes mood swings, mental/emotional fog, memory "loss," low blood sugar headaches, muscle pain & weakness, joint pain, difficulty regulating body temperature, and on and on. it can cause heart and pulmonary problems as well. she may not remember how it felt NOT to be experiencing those things, but i can almost guarantee you that, if she hasn't experienced them yet, she will, and most likely she's already having to deal with a number of those things in addition to her ad/hd.
also, at 9 almost 10 years old, if she hasn't started showing signs of impending puberty, she should be soon. onset of puberty, as well all know, brings about it's own set of pain, mood swings, etc. the melatonin (somebody else mentioned earlier), vitamins, hydration, protein, and getting a mini-meal routine established early will likely help her ease into puberty physically, mentally/emotionally with reduced negative impact from her hormones going haywire.
when menses start, you'll have to re-evaluate mood-mind-behaviour connections and her meds; many ad/hd women see a dramatic increase in pain, emotional volatility, distractibility, oppositional behaviours, etc with the onset of menses, but current research suggests that moderate increases in med dosing for a few days at key hormone shifts can dramatically reduce this tendency, so talk to her doctor/psychiatrist.
also, being dramatically underweight has an enormous, largely underestimated impact on a child's self-esteem. we hear all kinds of horror stories, maybe we even have a few ourselves, of the "fat" girl/boy's experience, and we tend to think that the "skinny" (particularly female) child/teen has it made. it's important to safeguard your underweight child's body image/self-esteem as rigorously as you would your overweight child's. as a society, we are highly judgmental about weight and physical maturation, and let's face it, as sweet and cute as kids can be, even the sweetest and cutest child can have a cruel streak a mile wide when weakness in a peer is sensed. additionally, the underweight ad/hd child/person is likely to have already experienced deep mental and emotional wounds from parents, teachers, friends, ignorant bystanders, etc. because they just don't ever seem to be able to be well-behaved, attentive, "normal" or "good." he/she is likely to have already developed the inner voice incessantly whispering to his/her mind and soul that he/she is "bad," "stupid," "lazy," "crazy," "ugly" and the list goes on and on.
bottom line: focus on your daughter's HEALTH rather than her WEIGHT and take every chance you get to praise her for doing things that are healthy for her (like eating)! no matter how simple/easy/normal you might think that it should be for her to perform tasks basic to human life (eating, drinking, elimination, whatever...), for reasons (largely) beyond her control--at least for right now--these things represent a real struggle for her, and she needs to supported by affirmation and encouragement rather than judgment; she only managed a few bites of lunch before having to stop? resist the urge to shame her into trying to eat more! instead, let her know how proud you are that she managed to eat whatever it was, and why you're so excited that she got those particular nutrients/how those few bites of "x" food help her body and mind. kids want to please us (even when they're "unhooked"), and she should be old enough to understand how even small things can help her feel better in her own body, help her be more in control of herself, and make her healthier.

hope this helps!

Jan - posted on 02/11/2010

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My son is 12 now and is on concerta 54mg and yes it affects his weight.He doesn't want to eat so I have to make him eat.What happens is it suppresses the appetite so they are not hungry or they are hungry and want food now!!!! What I have learnt is to let them eat when ever they want and whatever they want also.As any food can help them put on weight,My boy has his dinner and then half hour later he is hungry so he eats what ever he feels like.Give them heaps of carbs with low GI as then they have more energy during the day and not so tired.She will probably have to go onto Clonodine(Catapras) to help with getting them to sleep.So it is like they are on uppers and then downers but is the only way for them to settle.Take her back to the doctor and let them know what is going on.Also get them to chart her height and weight as my boy is on the low low scale for his age.It is important to remember not to get frustrated with her about food and don't make it a big thing as she can obsess about her weight like an anerexic or bulimic so let her eat when she wants and let her eat whatever she wants just watch the sugar intake as it affects them.....Regards,Jan,.

Kaelah - posted on 02/10/2010

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I have an 11 yr old, he is on concerta, same dosage, it has been brilliant for him, he doesnt gain weight either, but he has gained weight since taking him off the dexamphetamines. Your daughter sounds very much like my boy.... anyone who says u should not medicate a child, can totally have mine for a week without his meds.

He is also on rispiridone, 1mg.... which is for his sometimes psychotic outbursts that he has. One of his medications is an appetite suppressant, the other increases his appetite, so they balance each other out.

He was the same with sleep, but we found at the health food store, a thing called melatonin, it doesnt interfere with his other treatments, and we give him 3 of those at nite about 1/2 h r before bedtime and that works awesome for him. He is usually asleep within 1/2 hr of going to bed.

I totally understand what u r going thru, and i hope that i have been of some help to u. Dont stress about the weight, its a combination of the medication and their mind running a million miles a minute, and it is common for kids like this to be skinny, just make sure she is eating, and if she is getting enough to eat, thats all thats important.

Vicki - posted on 02/10/2010

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My 10 year old has been on Concerta for a couple of years. He is taking 54 mg. He has NO appetite when on the meds so he has to eat breakfast first, hardly ever eats lunch and we let him eat dinner right before bed (after the meds have worn out). We also let him not take the meds on non-school days but his issue is mainly with focus. As long as your daughter's doctor is not concerned I don't think there is much you can do besides offering foods she really likes. Your only other option is to try different medications - some don't have the same side effects. I haven't wanted to do that since this one works so well for my child and this is a relatively easy side effect to deal with. Good luck!

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Coral - posted on 10/05/2012

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my son is 8 years old and only weighs 51 lbs, he's on 54 MGS of long lasting concerta. On the medication he is focused on what he's doing, without it, he literally is climbing walls, from one end of the room in a split second, just all over the place, He feels frustrated in himself when he's not on it and the school even notices the difference in his behavior, from when I missed a dose here and there in the past. One thing I've noticed is the tics, they change every now and than, rubbing his nose, pulling a wedge, neck jerks, stretching his face, chewing his nails, some ppl have asked me if he had turrets due to the jerks or the teachers have become upset with him during a couple tics, thinking he was trying to get the classes attention, when really it's the meds, I just want him to fit in like any other child, is there any suggestions to tics and low weight to help increase it?????

One thing I also noticed is when he first started the medication at age 6, he was on short lasting and never had a problem with tics but could it be his body is immune and now having side effects ??

User - posted on 05/03/2012

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so did you put him on some thing else if not your not being far to your kid just cause he dont grow alittle dont mean that he shouldnt get the help from the meds my brother was takin off meds cause the same reasons and all the talk about side afects when his school life and home life sucked he had no friends that liked to play my parents were getting called in all the time cause he couldnt do anything and was causing trouble. hope u all that dont like meds cause of some reason or other think about the long run i forgot to fill my son meds and he had to go to school just one day his friends thought he was crazzy and didnt play with him for a month and the started to bully him its not right

User - posted on 05/03/2012

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my son was on those meds to he didnt gain much weight he lost weight if he did sports at all ,, you all need to just make sure the stuff u feed them is higher in fat content and vegys to my son is now on different meds he is 48 inches tall and just hit 58 pounds and he's 9 they can be good

Christy - posted on 12/08/2011

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WOW This sounds just like my son! Totally different kid without his meds and sometimes you wonder what they are thinking when they do these things! Kind of scary i know! I give my son whole milk with the carnation breakfast packets, that has seemed to help us so far.

Jessica - posted on 07/29/2011

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My 9 year old was on concerta and didnt gain weight or grow. He has been taken off of it and he has grown 2 inches and gained weight! I know the Concerta helped but very worried about the side effects. He wasnt growing at all. Be careful...

Keevie - posted on 02/14/2010

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My son was on Concerta a few years ago & would not eat. They changed his medication to the Daytrana Patch. He is now 10years old & the patch is easier to deal with because you can control when the medicine stops so your child will be hungry. I have stressed about how my son does not gain enough weight also, it is very frustrating, but much better with the Daytrana patch. Good luck to you!

Sonya - posted on 02/13/2010

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My son has a hard time gaining weight is first couple of years on Adderral. We gave him homemade milkshakes and lots of bread and that helped him stay at or above weight. He also does not take his meds on weekends and I usually allow him to eat as much as he wants. The extra calories help throughout the week.

Lisa - posted on 02/11/2010

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Hi.My name is Lisa .My son has been on many medications as well and was under 50 pounds forever it seemed.He has finally reached over 55 ponds.The doctors say that this is normal for kids on this particular meds and not worry but of course that is easy to say but very upsetting to us moms.All i would recomened is as long as she is eating healthy the weight will come.Does she want to eat late at night?Usally Ben does so we make sure he eats a sandwich or something healthy before bed.Hope I helped a little.You definatley are not alone in this situation.

Dawn - posted on 02/11/2010

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I have 2 daughters 8 and 12 yrs. old on Concerta and I have ADHD as well so imagine that! LOL! 3 under one roof makes for some chaos but we've done pretty good. Some may disagree, but my kids doctor says they can eat whatever they want cuz my girls too have trouble gaining weight. They get 3 healthy meals and several snacks a day. I load calories by giving them choc milk instead of white. If they aren't hungry for breakfast, they sip at a Carnation Instant Breakfast drink while getting ready. Throw in calories wherever you can while trying to keep it healthy. After school when the meds are worn off, I've been given the okay to supplement with a cup of caffinated soda and/or 1/2 cup coffee which I do now and then if they are having a really rough time keeping it together and behavior modification isn't helping. Remember Concerta/Stratera is Ritalin, a stimulant, and caffine falls under the same principal as well. Keep things very routine and organized. My kids have bulletin boards in their rooms with lists for their morning, after school, and before bed routines so they know what to do. Homework is done upon coming home f/ school while they are still in study mode and then the rest of the evening is for EARNED activities/talk/family time and the last 1/2 hour min. is for relaxing to unwind for bedtime. We use a system called CHIPS to reward wanted behavior and time ins. We use time outs and removing privileges as well when things get rough. Biggest thing is be consistant. Don't give in because your child has an "illness". Put away things she uses to destroy property so she must ask for them and you have notice to set aside time to supervise her. My younger daughter has to ask me for scissors, pens, pencils. She may be doing this for attention as well or she may be bored. My daughter is very needy in that department and gets into trouble. That's where her list comes in after school and at night. When she does what she is supposed to, she gets a set amount of attention she earns that is just for her. I have also taught my children deep breathing, visualizing, counting to 10, keeping journals. We talk a lot about situations that have gotten out of hand and options for handling anger and frusteration. Make her think of reasonable solutions for when she has certain feelings and then help her choose the best option for the next time she's feeling that way.

Michelle - posted on 02/11/2010

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My son also takes Concerta. I had a hard time with him gaining weight. I think in the last 6 months he gained 4 pounds. I have started letting him eat when he is hungry which is usually late at night. I try to give him some good things like fruits and protein just to help. He is almost 9 and weighs about 60 pounds. He seems to gain weight easier in the winter than in the summer because he is so active. I would just say let her eat healthy whenever she is hungry.

Julie - posted on 02/10/2010

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Very interesting, I have a 14 year old on Concerta and he never seems to be hungry. Before the medication was started he was a great eater, I started to worry about it and was told not to. WE are off to the doctor this month for our normal check up and I was going to discuss it with her. I would also be very interested in suggestions regarding the situation.

Lynda - posted on 02/09/2010

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I have a 11 year old on 92 mg Concerta in the am, and his weight is average depending on growing spurts, he has breakfast then meds, lunch is light then by supper he is ready to eat. We also offer him a bedtime snak. Right now with winter his weight is above average.

Lynnette - posted on 02/09/2010

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My daughter is also on 27mg of Concerta with marvelous results, whole different child! Try adding Boost or Ensure to your daughter's diet, best time of day to get them to drink or eat is in the AM before the meds or in the PM right before bed. The med isn't in their system at that time and it's easier to get them to increase their intake then. FYI.... My daughter is soon to be 9 and she only weighs 51 pounds but looks healthy so our pediatrician isn't worried, plus her BMI is perfect for her age and height. Hope this helps.... Good luck!

Melanie - posted on 02/09/2010

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My 10 year old son lost a couple pounds so the doc gave me a prescription for pediasure and he gained three pounds in a few months. Also maybe a nutrituinist to help you find heavy calorie meals and snacks for her/

Mary - posted on 02/07/2010

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This is happening with my 9 year ols as well. You said it just right. My son takes 54 mg and wow hes a different kid all together without it. I really don't like to give it to him because he isn't gaining weight at all. He only eats first thing in the morning or late at night. But....My teen son is on Methylphenidate and does the same way.

Jennifer - posted on 02/07/2010

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We had the same problem with my daughter...only 1 pound in 3 years. A few months ago the dr took her off pills for weekends (except when we had to go somewhere so I needed her on) and also had her drink Ensure Plus or Boost Plus. She gained 5 pounds that month. I know that's also not a healthy extreme, but it gave him numbers he wanted to see. She has maintained this new weight, actually gained another pound since Dec.

Rosemary - posted on 02/06/2010

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My son is also on concerta. He is 11 and weighs roughly 70 pounds. We have noticed that at night(8pm) is usually when he gets the hungriest. We think that is because his medication has worn off. He takes 72 mg of concerta in the morning, and 15 mg of ritalin at 2 pm to get him through the entire day of school.

He also takes 100mg of trazadone to help him shut down his train of thought at night. Otherwise, he is the last to bed the first up also. We work on a routine with him also. Everything is very scheduled in out home. He also attends karate lessons to help him focus. It has been very good for him. Any questions, feel free to get ahold of me. kirton1@q.com

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