Ask Dr. Marla: ADHD

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on November 27, 2007

Question:

My nine-year-old son is on medication for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), after pressure from his school. He has settled down but hes not the same exuberant kid he was before. Could we be over-medicating him?

Answer:

I have a question for you. How were the diagnosis and treatment decisions made? The diagnosis of ADHD is made by reviewing symptoms, family history and level of psycho-social functioning. It is critical to have feedback from the school. A rating scale such as the SNAP scale is often used. The SNAP scale is a series of questions used by parents and teachers to help determine a diagnosis for ADHD. (For more information, go to ADHD.net). Once the diagnosis has been confirmed and other co-existing conditions have been ruled out, the decision to treat should be made in consultation with your physician. Don't be pressured into medicating a child. There should be agreement that medication is the best course of treatment along with psycho-education, interventions in the classroom, family counselling and support groups. While medication is the mainstay of treatment and considered effective and safe, all side effects should be monitored by the prescribing physician. I would encourage you to speak with your physician and make sure you feel comfortable with the treatment approach. As a parent, it's important for you to inform his treating physician that there has been a change in behaviour. It is essential to determine whether this is a medication-related side effect or not. Your treating physician is best equipped to make this assessment.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| November 27, 2007

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