Having your child take ADHD medication is a big step, and it often comes with a lot of questions. You want to make sure you have the information you need. Here are some things to ask the doctor or prescriber when your child starts taking medication for ADHD.
1. Why are you recommending this type of ADHD medication for my child?
There are two types of medication for ADHD: stimulants and non-stimulants. In studies, stimulants were found to be more effective for treating ADHD. But for some kids, non-stimulants are a good choice. Ask why the prescriber wants to start your child on a certain medication.
2. What symptoms will the medication take care of?
Have the prescriber explain which of your child’s challenges the medication should help with and how. What should you be looking for? Keep in mind that medication doesn’t get rid of ADHD symptoms altogether. But when ADHD medication works well, symptoms occur less often and are less intense.
3. Does this medication cause side effects?
Side effects from ADHD medication can vary. It’s important to know what to expect when your child starts. For example, a common side effect with stimulants is ADHD medication rebound. Side effects often go away on their own after a few days.
4. What does my child need to know about ADHD medication?
You know your child best. But the doctor can give you some advice on what to talk about. The amount and type of information you share depends on your child’s age and maturity. You may want to encourage a young child to share if they’re not feeling like themself. With an older child, you may want to talk about keeping the medication in a secure and labeled container.
5. Can taking this medication lead to medication abuse?
Some kids may misuse medication by mistake. Others may take a higher dosage than what’s prescribed on purpose. And some may even “share” medication with their peers. Misuse can lead to abuse. And in rare cases, even addiction. Medication misuse is an important topic to talk about with your child’s doctor or prescriber.
6. How will I know if the ADHD medication is working?
While ADHD medication is effective for most kids, it doesn’t work for 20 to 30 percent of kids, according to the CDC. And even when there’s some benefit, parents may find that the ADHD medication is not working well enough. But the goal of ADHD medication isn’t to totally get rid of symptoms. It’s to make symptoms less intense and less disruptive to your child’s life.
7. Are there other treatment options to try as well?
Stimulant medication is the most effective form of treatment for ADHD. But there are other therapies that may be useful, too. Kids often do behavior therapy along with medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps some kids with ADHD. Meditation and exercise can also have a positive effect.
Understood is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company.
About the author
About the author
Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.
Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD, NCC, DCMHS, LMHC is an author, mental health counselor, and Florida Supreme Court certified family and circuit mediator. She specializes in anxiety, gaslighting, narcissistic abuse, and ADHD.