I have 3 boys (7, 5 and 2).
My oldest was recently diagnosed (in June) with ADHD(hyperactivity/impulsivity) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He was always a challenge for us to parent. My hope was that his behavior was just a phase and that he would gow out of it. But here I am years later, and his behavior is still a huge concern.
It has become more and more apparent since he is now in school. Peer relationships are difficult for him. He is loud, doesn't get along well with most peers, and sometimes has threatened or hit them. He is bossy with his younger brothers (they do not have ADHD), overreacts to the most minimal situations, swears and talks back to me (tells me he wishes I was dead), etc. Time outs, loss of privileges, you name it, I have tried it.
I did not want to put him on meds, but now it seems like the only option sometimes. I have changed his diet (limit his sugar and dairy intake, colors, and additives) and have him take supplemental vitamins and minerals.
We keep him as active as we possibly can (daily biking, swimming, karate). He gets weekly psychosocial therapy with a social worker (I also see the same social worker for parent training sessions). He will be starting a social skills group soon. Also during school, he will see the school psychologist weekly, and receive speech therapy (social pragmatics).
His behavior just seems so out of control most days (there is always an incident with his siblings everyday), that I can't take it anymore. The child psychiatrist said that this was a mild form of ADHD. It does not seems mild to me. Sometimes, I just want to throw in the towel and go for the meds but will that actually change his behavior or I am just taking the easy way out?
From: At my wits end, Newton, MA
Dear At Wits End,
I'd try the meds and see how it goes. [Reminder: I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, I'm a reporter who has covered parenting issues for more than 20 years, and interviewed thousands of professionals and parents.]
Meds are not an "easy way out." They are a form of treatment that your doctor is recommending. In fact, it's about the only treatment you haven't yet tired. You owe it to your son to try everything possible because -- and this, to me, is a really critical piece -- the combination of the behaviors you're describing can get him a reputation in school as a kid neither teachers nor peers like. You want to nip this in the bud NOW.
ODD and ADHD diagnoses sometimes go hand in hand, but, often, the ODD is a by-product of ADHD that is not under control. ODD is unlikely to get better on its own, rather it's likely to get more entrenched over time.
Sounds like your family relationships already are somewhat fragile as result of his behaviors. Research shows that parent/child relationships improve when meds are administered. References are here and here. These references were provided courtesy of the National Resource Center on ADHD, which is a program of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), which, among other things, offers support groups around the country for parents. Check it out if it's not familiar to you.
Readers, what are your experiences with meds and ADHD?
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