October is National ADHD Awareness Month.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-known disorder in our family. My son was the first to be diagnosed with this neurodevelopmental brain condition that affects the ability to pay attention, sit still, and control actions/behaviors. According to the CDC, 6 million children were diagnosed with ADHD between 2016-2019, and about half of them also have behavior problems.
ADHD can be mild or severe. Some children never receive medication for treatment, while others depend on it to function. My son needed medications when he was first diagnosed in the 4th grade. It was mostly due to his impulsivity issues, but he was also doing poorly in school. After we determined that diet change and therapy were not enough to ease his symptoms, we began the journey of finding the right medication for him. It took over a year to find one that worked well enough and had fewer side effects. I believe he went through 4 different medications.
I did not like having to medicate him. While it helped him focus during school, he barely ate and would be very quiet and withdrawn. Once his pill wore off, he had a sudden surge of hyper energy and was starving to death! His sudden hyperness could be compared to a drunk person at times. He also had difficulty falling asleep at night. Medication was not the best experience for him, but his grades improved, so we kept the same regimen for a couple of years.
When he turned 12, we were in the midst of COVID-19, social distancing, and homeschooling. This was when he stopped taking his medication. He seemed to be able to pay attention better, was no longer a wiggle-worm, and his impulsiveness appeared to have subsided. With maturity, his symptoms improved more and more.
My daughter was also diagnosed with ADHD when she was in the 4th grade. I chose not to medicate her. I honestly did not want to go through the process of finding the right treatment. She has not had issues with impulsivity and behavior problems, but to this day, she has trouble following a 2-step to-do list. She will get the 1st thing done, and then SQUIRREL, she forgets to do the 2nd thing. She is at least keeping up with school. Hopefully, she will also grow out of these issues as she matures.
ADHD is difficult. It's hard being a parent of a child with it, and it is especially hard being the child who has it. They sometimes feel like they can't do anything right. Many times medications are needed, and other times, ADHD can be managed without meds. Some children have minimal side effects from medications, while others have many. Being patient and sympathetic is crucial when dealing with children who have ADHD. It is a daily struggle, but with the correct treatment, it can be manageable.