How many ADHD medications are we supposed to try before we find the right one?

Lisa - posted on 01/18/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My 5 year old was diagnosed with ADHD combined type at the beginning of the school year. His pediatrician put him on Adderall XR 20mg but after a month or so we discovered it was making him very moody so we switched his medication to Concerta 36mg. I thought he was doing well on the medication until his teachers told me that he seems to be unable to control himself and seems like he is constantly "flying high". I dont know what else to do. Is it just normal to trial/error medications until you find the one that works?

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Allison - posted on 01/18/2013

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Here's what we did. First the Doctor and I sat with my child. We explained to my son that we were going to 'test' some medicines. I asked my child to spin around a few times. I asked how that feels. He described it. I said "Well when we start each new medicine I will tell you. If it makes you feel different/bad (like spinning) you need to tell me right away". The doctor thought that was a good way to communicate because little kids don't always have words for how they feel. I said that the 'perfect' medicine will make my son feel "normal". Each time we started a new med, I alerted his teachers in advance and we agreed to daily emails. They emailed me daily to say how the day went. I passed it to the doctor with notes about what I was seeing and how my son described how he felt. We were able to find the "best" medicine by the third try, with each try being about a week. Hope that helps. We also started with the meds that are NOT time release first. This way if it felt bad to my son, we could stop it quicker.

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Allison - posted on 01/18/2013

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Our pedrician explained to us that we wouldn't deny insulin to a diabetic and we shouldn't deny these meds either -- but we have to find the right ones. We limited the test to a set number of days for each one (a week or two if memory serves). Stimulants often have the opposite effect on kids, and kids with ADHD or ADD don't get the same reaction to drugs that you and I would. So put your mind at ease. My son is 17. He took meds till 13 and then he wanted to try without it. By then he built up skills to compensate. I gave him the choice and monitored his behavior and grades. He just got accepted to Marist, drug free, but under a 504 plan (extra testing time with a separate test room). He's made honor roll quite a few times. Work with the doctor and the teachers as a team. Enroll the entire family of adults (grandparents, etc). If anyone has issues with the concept of the meds, ask the doctor to speak with them by phone or as a group. Its worth it. We want the best for our babies!

Lisa - posted on 01/18/2013

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Thanks Allison, I had been told by a friend that it may take many tries to get the right medication. I too talked to my son about how he felt when we started (and switched) medications. Most recently he told me that his body feels fine but he can't control his mouth, even his teachers say that it seems his is unable to control it. I just feel so bad giving him medication in the first place, although I know it will help him when we find the right balance all I can see is my little baby taking all these different kinds of stimulants. I guess we will find the best combo for him and hopefully soon he will be a happy boy that is able to focus and is doing well in school.

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