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Question
Posted by: anon | 2012/05/14

Ritalin

Good day Dr

My 7 year old is on Ritalin. it was a long process to even considering putting him on it, but i kinda do think it is in his best interest. He is not adhd, but has similar issues besides hyperactivity.

Anyway, so he is on 10mg (of the short acting one) daily and has been on since the beginning of the year.

Certain aspects have improved, such as his impulsivity in class as well as his concentration.
The first few months we had no side effects. But lately his has been rather emotional and, just kinda naughty. he seems to do things for negative attention, and anyone that know my child knows this is out of character?
Could this be a side effect of the meds?

He struggles with making friends and his teacher suggested i find out about giving a longer acting one or giving him another hlaf in the afternoon for aftercare?
what is your opinion?

we are going back to the neurologist in a month, but i need some guidance now.


Also, last question, i havent been giving him his meds over the weekends.... is that bad?
also, the Dr said he doesnt need to take it over long weekends - can we just stop it or does he need to be weaned off?

thank you









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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I would listen to a teacher's description of how a child behaves or misbehaves in the class ; I would NEVER EVER accpt a teacher's diagnosis or prescription advice -they have no training or expertise whatever in these skills. No medicine helps a kid to make friends !
The situation you describe is complex ; the sort of misbehaviour you describe isn't typically a side-effects of the meds, and usually has more behavioural causes, other than possible depressive symptoms. The best person to assess what is going on and how best to handle it, would be the neurologist, paediatrician or child psychiatrist who first assessed him and prescribed the meds.
I don't understand your closing question. I am aware that some docs suggest the child take the meds weekdays and have a drug holiday over the weekends. And if that was the advice, you can follow it, and ask the prescribing doc to explain it next time. Presumably you are asking if the doses can be just omitted for those days, or if they need to be tailed off - as the tailing off would take longer than the weekend, it'd usually be suggested to just stop the meds for a couple of days.
Thanks to all our readers for such very helpful comments !

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anti | 2012/05/19

Our daughter was prescribed Ritalin when she was 6 years old. We were very skeptical about this as Ritalin is a drug!
We filled the script, started her on recommended dose and after 2 weeks noticed more than anything that our child was a zombie and not herself at all. We stopped giving it her, educated ourselves, went for ALL possible therapies and most importantly found a school that dealt with children who had these problems. We also learnt to be patient, loving, understanding and supportive of her.
She is now 41 years old, a nursery school teacher, happy, content and most importantly is the most wonderful, loving, caring daughter.



Reply to Anti
Posted by: Henry | 2012/05/18

Thanks Woman

Reply to Henry
Posted by: Woman | 2012/05/16

Henry, thank you for posting this again. YOU have helped us. My husband was also diagnosed with a mild degree of Asperger''s after I mentioned it to him and he to his psych. It surely explained a hell of a lot, and we have made positive changes since.

The psych explained it as follows - imagine all these mental things as overlapping plates. A mental issue almost never stands alone, and some conditions ''like'' other conditions. Like ADHD and Aspergers (which is a very good mix in certain circumstances - google the asperger''s in silicon valley for further info).

One that parents should be aware of, is the ADHD/ ODD Oppositional Defiance Disorder) mix . Then there is also the ADHD/ Depression (major/Bipolar generally).

The point is that many people think this is something that will pass. It is not. And the only thing that will make life better for these kids. And the only way to do that is through education of parents. The parents of a child in a wheelchair will tell you that they had to educate themselves very quickly, as would the parents of a downs syndrome child, a blind child, an epileptic child. Just the same with ADHD - not seeing it as a physical thing, but a life long genetic condition.

I vowed to raise my children so they can achieve their every dream and goal. And with great power, comes great responsibility. If we can better prepare our kids for their lives, because of people like Henry and my husband, then we are surely raising a better next generation!

Reply to Woman
Posted by: Henry | 2012/05/15

Having walked a very long road with bad and wrong diagnosis time and time again I would sincerely encourage all of you commenting here to do some research into high functioning autism as well as Aspergers Syndrome as this could very well apply to your child as well.

Reply to Henry
Posted by: Woman | 2012/05/15

Hi Anon, my 10 year old is on Ritalin. My husband lives with adult ADHD, so we live in your reality. Allow me to give a few tip staht works for us.

For a supplement, our local Health Shop suggested we give her Solal Acetyl-L-Carnatene, 1 tablet a day. It has certainly improved her mood and lifted her emotions a bit. Because Ritalin is tough on the brain, we give extra fish oil (scotts emulsion works well for small kids). Also, we give her her 10 mg is quarters throughout the day, so she has a more even release of teh Ritalin. We take weekends off and only use it on occasion over holidays.

We make sure she exercises at the end of each day - we got her yoga dvd''s off the net. Yoga improves posture, which is something all ADHD''ers struggle with. My husband actually had stooped shoulders to a very bad degree before he started doing yoga. Now his shoulders are back and he even looks more confident.

We are also taking her to cbt and group playtherapy to teach her about social interactions and how to act in various situations. ADHD kids generally have trouble reading facial expressions because they are not emotive. You need to teach them - i.e. Mommy is angry, look at my eyes and my mouth. Mommy is sad, look at my mouth, look at my eyes. Mommy is happy, look I am smiling. Most people can, most adhd''ers can''t but can learn more easily the younger they are when they start.

But we try to keep it a positive experience, we tell her that she''s smart and that her brain works just a little differently to some other people''s. We show her who the famous ADHD''ers are and we are nudging her towards her interests and examining which kinds of jobs she would star in one day - rational jobs to do with maths and science, money trading, that kind of thing.

She''s doing great, she has a group of friends, her marks have improved with 30 % in one term and she''s also found her confidence. It''s as if she has become the girl I always knew she was.

Good luck, I hope this helps a little

Reply to Woman
Posted by: Phil | 2012/05/15

My son had to take Ritalin to help him concentrate in school. In high school now  and is coping just fine. I was also very againstusing it at the time.

He did very well on the long lasting 10mg  and if needed one at the after care to help him do homework.

Tried the 20mg  disaster. he became emotional and lie a zombie  not my child. Soemtimes the weakest dosage works best.

Reply to Phil
Posted by: Lizelle | 2012/05/15

My 9 year old son is on Ritalin (20mg LA) - he''s only been on it for 3 weeks now, but the teacher told me on the first day that she could already see a difference. We were also told not to give it to him on weekends and school holidays. Initially he was very emotional - telling me he felt unhappy, and he does not have much of an appetite, but by late afternoon his appetite is back and he eats normal (as if he is making up for the rest of the day). We were also very against it, but after speaking to many doctors and reading up on Ritalin, if diagnosed right, Ritalin can help. Anon - I think you should ask the neurologist all your questions when you see him again.

Reply to Lizelle
Posted by: Rikki | 2012/05/15

My 13 year old son is on Ritalin (40mg LA). We were also told not to give it to him over weekends and in school holidays. We have noticed that he is rather moody (and sometimes just quiet and withdrawn) in the late afternoon, but by about 18h30, he is his normal happy self! I was also opposed to Ritalin as I had heard nothing but horror stories (which after some research, I found to be nothing but nonsense). However, my child''s performance at school has improved dramatically - at the end of last term his average had increased by 15%. He is doing really well on the Ritalin. The only other problem we have is the fact that he does not have much of an appetite - he eats, but not as well as he did previously. I am sure, just like any meds, Ritalin has a different effect on people.

Reply to Rikki
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/05/15

I would listen to a teacher's description of how a child behaves or misbehaves in the class ; I would NEVER EVER accpt a teacher's diagnosis or prescription advice -they have no training or expertise whatever in these skills. No medicine helps a kid to make friends !
The situation you describe is complex ; the sort of misbehaviour you describe isn't typically a side-effects of the meds, and usually has more behavioural causes, other than possible depressive symptoms. The best person to assess what is going on and how best to handle it, would be the neurologist, paediatrician or child psychiatrist who first assessed him and prescribed the meds.
I don't understand your closing question. I am aware that some docs suggest the child take the meds weekdays and have a drug holiday over the weekends. And if that was the advice, you can follow it, and ask the prescribing doc to explain it next time. Presumably you are asking if the doses can be just omitted for those days, or if they need to be tailed off - as the tailing off would take longer than the weekend, it'd usually be suggested to just stop the meds for a couple of days.
Thanks to all our readers for such very helpful comments !

Reply to cybershrink

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