Ask Dr. Marla: ADHD

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.

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