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Should You Put Your Child on ADD or ADHD Medication?

Top Expert Videos on ADD & ADHD

When your child is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, your first thought might be “What now?” Medication for ADHD gets a lot of press– positive and otherwise. No matter what your feelings about ADD medication in the past, it’s important to get the most up to date, expert-derived information so that you can help achieve the best possible outcome for your child and help set them up for success.

“Medication for ADHD [and ADD] is controversial but it really shouldn’t be. When it’s used properly, it’s very safe and very effective,” says Harvard-trained psychiatrist, ADHD specialist, and author Dr. Edward Hallowell, MD., EdD.

ADD and ADHD prescriptions like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin are names you have likely heard in the media or from other parents, but understanding just how they can benefit your child can help you decide if they are names you want in your medicine cabinet. Dr. Hallowell likens the function of ADD medications to that of eyeglasses.

“[ADD Medication] allows you to focus. It doesn’t make you smarter but it allows you to use the smarts you’ve got; much as eyeglasses don’t make you smarter but they allow you to use the smarts you’ve got,” explains Dr. Hallowell.

A common misconception is that ADD and ADHD medication makes you smarter and gives you an advantage over your peers. Dr. Hallowell and other experts that share his school of thought believe this is untrue. A child with this type of learning disability will not get any new ability, but will be able to access the full capacity of their existing abilities. ADD and ADHD can make it a struggle for people who are affected by these learning disabilities to focus long enough to fully access and apply their brainpower, and for some, medication supplies that focus.

“Used properly, stimulant medication like Ritalin and Adderall, allow a child, or an adult for that matter, to focus better and therefore improve performance as much as eyeglasses do,” says Dr. Hallowell.

Ensuring proper use is crucial, and as the parent, will most likely become your responsibility. After receiving an accurate, professional diagnosis that your child has ADD or ADHD, work with your child’s healthcare provider to determine which brand, dosage, and intake schedule works best based on the individual needs of your child. Steady communication between physician and/or psychiatrist, parent, child, and child’s teachers is a must for hammering out the fine details of a treatment plan.

Even if you decide to treat your child’s ADD or ADHD with medication, Dr Hallowell points out that there is no guaranteed efficacy.

“It doesn’t always work. It works about 80% of the time,” says Dr. Hallowell. Each medication can be grouped into different families, per say, of active ingredients. Adderall may not help your child, but Ritalin could be the answer you are looking for. There are also various pros and cons to extended release and immediate release. Working closely with a trusted medical professional is the best way to figure out how to begin treating your child’s ADD or ADHD with medication, if you so choose.

If your child is struggling with the learning disabilities ADD or ADHD, it may be time to look into medication. With the right medical guidance and teamwork between caregivers, ADD or ADHD medication can be a safe, effective treatment for your child.

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