Maybe your second cousin’s neighbor’s grandson went to the doctor and was given medication for ADHD after a five minute office visit. And you scoff that medication is given out like candy. That there’s no thought put into it and ADHD is overdiagnosed when really, that kid just needs to learn to calm down.
And you know, maybe that did happen to your second cousin’s neighbor’s grandson.
Or maybe you just don’t know the whole story. I’ve written about one of my boys’ ADHD plenty before, as well as in defense of ADHD medication. How meds were life-changing for my son and for our family. Of course I’m not saying they work for everyone or that they are the answer, but they are for us, for now.
However, I never went into detail about the process of starting medication. But since I’ve heard a few too many off-handed comments about how quickly kids are put on meds for it, I thought I’d share our story to show you that it’s not always easy and also that maybe there’s more to someone’s story than what you know.
In September of 2011, we started the evaluation process with a phone call to the doctor. We’d already had other evaluations done, we were already aware our son had certain challenges, but this was the point where it was affecting his day-to-day life and he wasn’t able to participate in school to any meaningful way and we knew we needed to figure things out.
We picked up evaluation questionnaires, filled them out, had his teachers fill them out, and then sent them to the doctor. We had an appointment two weeks later, where the doctor asked some questions and referred us to an occupational therapist to help with some of our son’s more immediate needs and to a psychologist who specializes in children’s psychological testing. We couldn’t get an appointment for that testing until December 2011.
In December 2011, we took him to the psychologist for three different evaluation sessions, each lasting for the majority of a morning. We didn’t get the results until January 2012.
We then had to make an appointment with our doctor, seeing her in February 2012. She went over the results with us again and let us know our options. We tried different strategies with him as well as therapies, all with very minimal success.
In August 2012, we made an appointment with the doctor to talk about medication and we got in in September. We did have to fill out the same evaluation questionnaires again, as well as have his teachers fill them out. Because we’d had the psychological testing done and because we’d already tried other options, this is when we went to trying medication.
And it worked. Not the first dosage of the first med, but the second dosage and then later, an additional medication added. Every 3-6 months, we have to fill out those questionnaires again and go meet with the doctor to discuss how he’s doing and talk about any side effects(his side effects have been minimal but the medications very effective).
If you actually read through all those steps, then I’m impressed by your patience. Patience was something we had to have throughout this process, which, in case you skimmed because all those doctor’s appointments made your eyes cross(imagine actually going through it instead of just reading it) took a year from the time we initiated the process to when my child was started on medication.
A year. With over 2 years before that where he went through other evals.
There was nothing quick, easy, and thoughtless about it. Not from us as his parents or from any of his doctors.
Maybe there are doctors out there who prescribe ADHD medication the first time a parent mentions a concern. Maybe. But maybe they’re suggesting it because after years of knowing the child, they’ve had their own concerns noted in that child’s chart. Or maybe not. There are exceptions out there. But when I’ve talked to other moms whose children are on medication for ADHD, their stories are much more similar to mine than to that of your second cousin’s neighbor’s grandson.
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