My son has severe ADHD, and yes he is on medication. I am going to guess that over half of the people who just read that statement gasped, judged and silently said to themselves “I would never medicate my child”. I used to be one of those people. I used to judge and silently condemn parents without knowing their story, then I had Daniel and everything changed.
Daniel’s ADHD is so severe that he actually has an inability to control his body. His movements are erratic, unpredictable and dangerous. He cannot keep his body still, collect his thoughts, settle himself, or relax enough to enjoy even his favourite things. In addition to his ADHD, Daniel has severe anxiety. You can see the physical pain in his eyes when his anxiety takes over. As a parent when you see true pain in your child’s eyes, suddenly your beliefs, judgements and predetermined notions no longer matter, the only thing that matters is helping your child.
We started the discussion with Daniel’s developmental paediatrician 6 months before we decided to try medication. Given that Daniel was in IBI therapy we wanted to work on different strategies to see if they would work. I, yes that right, I didn’t want to medicate him. I didn’t want to be that parent. I thought that if we increased his behaviour therapy and specifically targeted his anxiety and ADHD behaviours that we could help him. Our developmental paediatrician agreed to our strategy for a few months, and then during one of our follow up appointments she informed me it was time. Daniel’s symptoms were increasing at an alarming rate, as was his clear unhappiness. I felt like I had failed him in someway, that by giving in and having to medicate him I failed as his mother. However, I trust our paediatrician so I agreed to try it. The difference was immediate, significant and unbelievable. My son suddenly had control over his body, his reactions and himself. He didn’t’ appear to know what to do with himself when he first started the meds. He was so used to having a constant feeling of unrest, I think he was a bit scared by this newfound sense of calm. We started to notice that not only could he control his body but also he seemed happy, at peace almost. I can only imagine what moving at the speed of light day in and day out can do to a little person. It was then that I knew I had made the right decision.
Daniel has been on meds now for over 2 years and on the odd days when I forget his meds I am quickly reminded of what it used to be like, for him and us. I have over the past 2 years had people question my decision, and judge me. My answer is always the same; you don’t know me, my son or our situation so kindly keep your opinions to yourself. Until you have witnessed Daniel without his meds it is impossible to understand what he goes through. The decision to try meds with Daniel wasn’t an easy or quick one. If medicating your child is something you are contemplating with your doctor here are a few things to consider:
- ADHD cannot be diagnosed during a 15-minute doctors appointment. Always ensure that you are working with a qualified, experienced physician on ADHD.
- Meds will not “fix” your child, they will however help. Ensure that you are familiar with the difference between the two.
- Always start with the lowest dose possible. It is easier to increase meds if the does isn’t high enough then to lower the dose after a child has suffered through difficult side effects.
- Not all types of meds will work on all children. Work closely with your child’s paediatrician to ensure you find the perfect medication for your child.
- This one is the most important: don’t make your decision based on someone else’s opinion. This is your child, you know your child better than anyone. Make your own decision and don’t worry about what anyone has to say about it.
I have been on this journey for a long time now. I have come across many people who think they understand my journey and have the right to offer their opinions. Let me tell you, they don’t. I don’t need to explain what we go through everyday. I make educated, researched and impossible decisions for my son everyday. Some are good, some aren’t so good, but either way they are my decisions and I own them. I don’t make decisions lightly and don’t appreciate others insinuating that I have. On this journey everyone will have an opinion, the only one you need to care about is yours and yours alone. You will never make a bad decision for your child; it is impossible when you love them as much as you do. The people you need in your life are the ones who understand that, the others can take their opinions and well…that is for another blog!