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Medication is still considered the fastest acting and most effective method of assisting those with ADHD. This is because it allows the child to benefit from clearer and more prolonged concentration. Increased concentration, in turn, gives the child the opportunity to:

  • Learn and to adopt strategies to help with their personal lives;
  • Be less impulsive, which decreases the incidence of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; and
  • Improve inappropriate behaviours connected with hyperactivity and social interaction.

The effects of medication can vary among children. I have seen outcomes that appear nothing short of miraculous but the majority experience less dramatic change.

Certain children may obtain better results from one medication than another. This is simply due to their differing physiologies.

There are also reasons why some children cannot take the stimulant medications, for example, a child who displays tics will not be prescribed a stimulant.

In general, 80-90% of children with ADHD respond to an adequate dose of one or other stimulant. Since psycho-stimulant side effects are dose-related, the treatment aim should be to determine the lowest effective dose which produces the maximum therapeutic effect whilst keeping adverse effects to a minimum. (December 2007, Clinical Excellence Commission, NSW)

The decision of whether or not to place a child on medication is agonising for parents. Years ago parents were considered almost negligent if they chose medication. These days parents are frowned upon if they do not place their child on medication. Societal values can change but the fact that a parent wants the best for their child never will. Parents do not deserve to be judged for the decision they make.

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