and, between the two of you, you will be able
to solve them.
EWrong medication.; If your child is taking
the wrong medication, you may see some benefits—sustained focus, less impulsivity, improved mood,
and so on—but they’ll be faint, and negative side effects
will outweigh them by a considerable degree. Is your child
more irritable than normal? Does he have a headache that
won’t go away? Is he sleeping worse than before? If you
answer yes to any of these questions, it might be that your
child is taking the wrong medication. If so, talk with your
doctor about switching to another.
RGeneric versus brand name.; By law, a brand-name
medication can vary in its potency by only 1 percent, high
or low, from pill to pill. A generic formulation of the medication can vary in potency between 20 percent low and 25
percent high from pill to pill. The larger the tablet or capsule size, the greater the potential variability. People who
are very sensitive to dose find it hard to tolerate this much
variability. Parents come in wanting stability and predictability in their child’s behavior, emotions, school performance, and sleep. Formulations that fluctuate a lot from
pill to pill do not support these goals.
If you switch medications due to insurance requirements, and find that your previous medication was more
effective, talk with your doctor. In most cases, she will be
able to work with your insurance company to get your
child back on his previous medication.
TWrong dose.; Some parents tell their doctor that the
medication is working for their child, but the gains aren’t
big enough to make a difference in her life. If this describes
your child, she might be taking the wrong dose. The medication dose may be too low, since prescribers start at the
lowest recommended dose and increase it from there. But
everyone responds to medication differently, and even a
“low dose” might be too much for your child’s particular
brain and body. If you feel like her medication is helping,
but could be doing more, talk with your doctor about
adjusting her dose.
U Wrong time. ; Your child could be taking medication too
early, too late, or at an incorrect frequency. If it is taken
too early, it wears off before you want it to. If it is taken
too late, it doesn’t kick in by the time he needs it.
If it is being taken at the wrong frequency—only once
a day, for instance, instead of multiple doses—its coverage
will be inconsistent. If different times of day have different
focus needs, ask your doctor about medication combinations. Perhaps your child needs a long-acting pill in the
morning and a short-acting pill in the evening to keep his
focus level steady throughout the day.
I Interactions.; While most medications interact well with
your child will be able to focus for longer periods of time
than he used to. This doesn’t mean hyperfocus or “zombie
focus”—just a sustained focus that he can direct to where
he wants it to go, and that makes him more productive.
> Less impulsivity.; If your child’s medication is working,
you’ll notice less impulsivity—both physical and verbal.
He will interrupt people or jump out of his seat less often.
Your child will notice that her thoughts are less impulsive,
too—she is less distracted by “brain chatter.”
> Improved mood. ; When ADHD medication is optimized,
a child typically has an improved overall mood. He is less
stressed, with less anxiety—usually shown by higher productivity and fewer social challenges.
> Greater attention to detail.; Details become more important—instead of skipping a step in a math problem,
your child will catch small mistakes before they happen.
> Better memory.; Some patients report improved memory once they start taking ADHD medication. They can
remember people’s names more easily, and don’t need to
re-read the chapter of the book they read last night.
> Better sleep.; Sleep problems are a common side effect
of ADHD medication. But, in some cases, treatment helps
children and adults with ADHD fall asleep; the right medication can slow down their brains enough to quiet the
racing thoughts that used to keep them awake.
Troubling Signs and
Common Side Effects
What’s the most obvious sign that a medication isn’t working? Your child isn’t feeling any of the positive effects mentioned above. But even if your child is feeling some of
them, the medication might not be perfect. Your child
might not feel the benefits as consistently or as strongly
as you would like, or he might be dealing with some
uncomfortable side effects.
Most people know when they’re experiencing unpleasant side effects, but some problems—especially in younger
children—may slip by. Ask your doctor to check for the
most common side effects—nausea, appetite loss, irritability, sleeplessness, and headaches—so you know what to
look for. You should also ask your doctor to explain the
rare side effects that can be dangerous, like shortness of
breath, allergic reactions, and heart problems.
SOLUTIONS TO COMMON
IF YOUR CHILD ISN’T GE TTING ALL THE BENEFITS FROM ADHD medication that you had expected, and is also experiencing side effects, there are five common explanations for the
problem. Talk with your doctor about your child’s problems
with popular meds: