Ten Top Reasons Why Parents Don't Want to Put Their Kids on Medication for Attention Disorders and Ten Top Reasons Why They Should Consider It (page 2)
Melvin Oatis, M.D. Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of Pediatric Consultation-Liaison Services—Tisch Hospital in a dialogue with parents:
These are the comments I hear frequently from parents of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder when we begin to discuss the possibility of starting medication to target the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and inattention. I try to give them another viewpoint to consider in their decision making process.
"I don't believe in medication. I only want to do things holistically.I don't want to give my child a substance."
Dr. Oatis: Not believing in medication is almost like an ideology or a religion to some parents. Upon exploring this belief with parents, I usually find out that they're already giving their child vitamins or other supplements that they believe are beneficial. These may be products or substances that claim to be "natural, or organic, or derived from a plant extract" that the parents are finding in infomercials like Focus Factor, Kidease and other products that are not regulated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). The agents that you will obtain from your doctor are stimulant and non stimulants that have been regulated by the FDA and have shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD.
"My kid is either past puberty or my kid hasn't quite reached puberty, and I'm concerned about his development."
Dr. Oatis: Well, that's certainly a normal concern, because we're all concerned about our children's normal development. Another way to think about it is: If your child has ADHD and the symptoms are not treated then these symptoms are going to have an impact upon their normal developmental trajectory—and by that I mean if we intervene in areas where children have problems, they are able to learn the necessary skills at an earlier age without developing other problems or thinking less of their own abilities. The medical community has been using stimulants since the 1950's and has shown that they are a safe and effective method of treating attention difficulties and clinical trials with these medications are still underway.
"I don't want my child to be drugged; I don't want him to be dopey or be like a zombie—or the parent or child may think that taking medication proves that he's crazy."
Dr. Oatis: Medication has a great potential to help the problem; if your child has diabetes you'd give him insulin, if he has a problem with vision you would have no issue with obtaining eyeglasses; if he has a problem with executive functioning, like his attention span, and if there's something that can help him, why not give him the medication? Many children with ADHD may already think differently about themselves and with some assistance they are able to see just how competent and capable they can be. If side effects occur in the context of medical treatment, these can be addressed by the psycho pharmacologist.
"I don't want the school to know about medication or I don't want my child to be labeled."
Dr. Oatis: Some parents fear that if their child has a diagnosis of ADHD somehow that label is going to stick with her throughout the school year and it is the only thing the school will see; the teacher's going to look at her differently; she's going to have a stigma, that something's going to be labeled as wrong; and she'll never reach her full potential. There may be individuals at some schools who may have a bias however, it is usually the contrary. I have found that if the school knows that the child had ADHD perhaps appropriate accommodations can be made, for example, extended time for testing or making sure that she gets notes that she needs, and that she remembers to copy all of her assignments. Sometimes it's very useful to involve the school in the process of helping the child.
"My kid isn't hyperactive; he may be ADD, but he's not ADHD."
Dr. Oatis: That's reflective of a change throughout the years with the nomenclature. By consensus we use the DSMIV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), there are 3 subtypes of ADHD; there's ADHD combined subtype, which is comprised of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. There's another subtype where the child is just inattentive, which is probably what many parents are alluding to when they say that their child is not hyperactive—and then there's a subset where they're hyperactive and impulsive. Medically, all 3 subtypes of ADHD respond to treatment with the same types of medication.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
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