ADD/ADHD - your experiences please

OK, the basic situation is that my 9 year old will be starting a trial of psycho-active medication in the next few weeks to determine whether her ADHD can be managed this way.

I’m extremely familiar with both the for and against arguments regarding the use of psych-active medication both in adults and in children.

What I’m looking for is anecdotal information from people who have taken Ritalin or Dexamphetamine for management of ADD/ADHD, or observations of friends and relatives who have been in a position to observe people during both periods when they were medicated and when they were not.

My experience with ADD:

I started out as a really “munchkin” style player, but eventually learned that you could do serious role-playing even in the context of rules that reward you for killing things and stealing their treasures. I also, eventually, wrote some tongue-in-cheek “fan fiction” based on …

What do you mean you’re not talking about Advanced Dungeons & Dragons?!

My son is on methylphenidate (ritlan) and so far we haven’t had any problems with anything over the past three years or so.
He is a skinny little guy, but he hasn’t had any weight loss, and we were supposed to watch him for facial ticks and twitches, and none of those either.
It helped greatly in his school work and performance.
We have him on a pretty low dose.
Have you tried other avenues before meds?
We went through parent courses for non-violent parenting. Just to show us other ways to deal with his anger and agression and do it without spanking since they tend to push parents that far. We was psycologists, and we had lots of blood work done to make sure it wasn’t allergies.
I get alot of shit from my sister in law everytime she sees Maury or Oprah do a show on it. So be forewarned about others out there like that.

All in all I have had good luck with it. E-mail me if you have an other questions that you might not want to share here.
Good luck and let me know how things go for you, take care and give your little person a big hug for me.

Tracer you freak. :wink:

My brother was diagnosed in the 70s as hyperactive, and was put on Ritalin. I do not remember much change in his behavior. However, there were also problems, such as the babysitter/nurse not giving him his meds (the sitter was taking them, don’t know what the nurse was doing) so I don’t know if there was a problem getting him to therapuetic levels.

His son lives with my parents, and is also on Ritalin. There has been a definate change in his case- he tends to be less destructive, though I haven’t noticed any change in his atention span. Unfortuately, he has behavioral problems in addtion to his ADHD. On the whole, though, it has helped with the impulses he seems to have to break things when he’s bored.

Yes Kricket, we’ve tried other interventions, particularly where school is concerned. They’ve made very little - if any - difference, which from the research I’ve read is fairly usual.

We have an excellent paediatrician, and I’ve pretty well-informed regarding the history of the medications in question, so while I’m extremely aware that some people have a problem with using psycho-active medications for anything, my priority is my child’s happiness. At the moment, her behaviour is increasing causing her problems and creating unhappiness for her.

The medication protocol we will be using will entail giving medication only when she needs to be focused and calm, rather than giving it routinely so I certainly believe it’s worth a shot.

And yes - at the moment we’re in the process of having a barrage of tests completed in order to determine the most appropriate medication schedule and other interventions.

I was particularly interested in people’s perceptions of how much difference the medication has made, as there seems to be considerable research suggesting that those who do not show significant improvement on the stimulants may have been wrongly diagnosed and may have a condition other than ADD/ADHD.

My youngest brother ( who is autistic) was given ritalin to help with some of his behavior. When he was taking it, he was even more wired, running, flapping, shouting…the psychiatrist took him off it with 2 weeks, saying that he didn’t have ADHD in addition to his primary disability.


First of, I am ADDult. I have been tested many a times since I was 15, I am now 32.

Second, I need you to understand that if you haven’t done so, be a very proactive parent and have more than one diagnosis if you haven’t. ADD can look like many other mental illnesses and vice versa. I stress this because there are so many kids out there being diagnosed without more than a teacher recommendation and a visit to see the child’s doc. I am not saying you have done that but I don’t know your child’s past so I need to offer that out there.

Anyhow, I have been off and on Ritalin or it’s equivalent for 17 years. Personally, Ritalin works for me when I can find a doctor that is not wrapped up in the BS of the media and such. One of our board buddies uses Adderall (sp) and has better results from it.

Essentially, using a specific drug will depend on your child more than the recommendations of people on a message board. Each person is different in his or her chemical makeup and will respond differently than the next person.

Whatever you decide to do, please keep a notebook and take daily notes to take with you to the doctor for each check up. Note school performance, attitude at home and with friends and general things you notice about your child’s health in general. In addition, sit down and talk to your child about the effects he or she may be feeling with the medication. If you keep those notes, you will be far better off when you talk to his/her doctor about the medication, it’s side effects and the progress as well.

Not any definitive answers but maybe it will get you on the right track.

Yes, but are they running blood test for allergies? Some behavior problems can be allergies. Just letting you know so nothing is missed.
It is a tough decision to make, and then stick too.
And you will see a difference when they go off the schedual for anything.
We started with Josh for only school time, and then when to night time meds also when he started getting in upper grades with homework first of all so he could sit down and do the homework, second so he could get a full nights sleep and third Hi Opal.
On the meds Josh is more centered and more attentive, off of them and you can’t get him to rememeber what you just told him to do, and he gets a little rough with other kids.
With these children you really have to stick to a routine. Hard for me since I am always running in 20 different directions, but you can really notice when routine is botched by how Josh acts.
And watch having them on durning the week, and off during weekends and school breaks. It sends them into withdrawl. And sometimes it’s worse.

Tech, what are some of the things you go through? I would love to know what my son is feeling at times. He once told the teacher that everything was moving to fast for him. I mean, how do you know when you are going back to where you feel you need the meds again?
Anything you would have would help me deal with understanding his emotions.
They coached us through listening to him, and things we could do to deal with him (none of them worked) but they never told us what they are going through, what runs through their minds.


Pretty much I kept on a strict schedule, yes even for the ADDer it can happen.

I would take my first Ritalin dosage at 7:40 (work started at 8:00) then the last dosage at 2:00. When I started working at odd hours after that, I could usually tell by a let down, if you will, like coming down from the caffiene of your morning coffee. It’s not the same but similar in reaction. I also had my pager set to remind me after 6 hours to remind me because I still would forget.

Don’t get me wrong, Ritalin for those that need it don’t get a high or feel different from it but after a while your body does tell you when it’s time for it’s next dosage, much like sleep. In addition to that, it regulated my sleep in such a good way, I need to get that back.

A couple of things that might help your children sleep with ADD/ADHD to at night – a typical problem with ADD/ADHD. White noise. I find that running some kind of fan works wonders to help me sleep at night, when I actually get to sleep without my meds. Not a TV static but a fan static can help if your kid is experiencing problems with sleeping through the night.

Another thing with ADDers, as difficult as a schedule can be, sticking to a strict schedule can do wonders as well. Meaning, perform the same tasks before bedtime every night at the same time. When I was an older kid, my mom would make me go to bed at such and such time but would allow me to read as long as I wanted. Eventually, and not good for my studies later, I was able to associate going to sleep with a good book. Even though I sucked in school, I was very smart and my mom encouraged rather than jumped on my ass for reading before I went to bed. To this day, unless the book is so intriguing and I have a bout with insomnia I can go to sleep within 3-10 pages of a book.

Also, if you haven’t read the book by “Dr. Hallowell”, I hope that’s right as my friend still has my book from 4 years ago, it will help you as adults understand what is going on through an ADD child/adult mind. He will tell you over and over again, get on a schedule. This is so important, even for those like me without my medication. But that one book I think “Living With Distraction” or something like that has helped me in so many ways like learning to keep reminders of things I need to remember, ALL without a reminder list. Yep, I must say that I learned it from there. I still keep reminders of stuff in my computer but most of the time before my computer reminds me I know what I needed to remember for the day. One could call it survival.

I do believe on some level that a kid need to learn some basic coping techniques as ADD is not simply gone with a pill. It’s an aid, much like glasses are. It helps you but is not the miracle cure.

So to all you parents, friends, family, loved ones, remember that. Ritalin, Adderall or any other medication for ADD/ADHD is not the magic bean that makes a person’s life a normal life. It is an aid to help the person along. You must work with behavior, scheduling and overall mental health when dealing with this. I can’t stress enough about the behavior thing. Had I had earlier intervention (ADD was not well known in the early-mid-late 70s) I would probably be some computer science PhD and be some wild and crazy person behind some of the stuff you wonder about on line. Okay that’s a stretch but I just go based off where I was, where I am and where I could be if things had been just that slightest bit different.


I guess I didn’t fully give you an answer to your question.

You asked “what are some of the things you go through.”

It’s really hard to explain that part of life because I have never lived a “normal person’s life.” But maybe, with some wishing I was normal, I can explain it from there.

I mentioned sleep, maybe it’s just me and being an night owl and not related to my ADD but sleep is something I crave but finding it can be difficult, when I do I need my sleep or I am grouchy and a pain in the ass more so than other people. Again this may just be me but I have been that way all my life.

In a conversation with a person. OY, that’s a difficult task because my brain is moving at a million miles an hour thinking and coming up with a response. I have been talked to, from friends and family, to quit interrupting. This is a big thing with many ADD/ADHD people, constant interruptions. You can’t help it sometimes, you just cut people off. I have learned not to do that but it’s still difficult, it’s almost a knee jerk reaction for many of us.

We can hyper focus. I am talking serious hyper focusing. The world around you doesn’t exist but the task at hand. Those tasks are usually things that interest us greatly. For example, I was into anything mechanical as a child. I had to take things apart and put them together because I needed to know what they were about. Usually I would end up in the destructive mode though, something mom used to hate enough to kick my ass. My father though, he grasped on to that when I was a teen (mom died) and I would do stuff to help him around the house. There was not a power tool or a cord or an electronic thing that could defeat me.

When life is seemingly out of control, some of us, like me, turn to other methods by which to feel normal. I started drinking at 12. I started to smoke pot at 14. I have done cocaine, crystal meth, crank, hash…anything to make me feel normal. I only drink (not that that is a good thing) and smoke cigs these days. Mostly because the drugs like coke, meth and crank took me many times more than my friends to get high. Not only did it bore me but sheesh, too expensive for my tastes. I had to have more to get the same effects as my friends…if that makes sense.

I have higher than above average IQ as do many of my ADD/ADHD peers have. I have been told as much and my tests prove it. I seem to not be taking in information in a traditional class setting but I take it in better than most of my peers. I hate regular tests and never did well on them if I knew I was going to have to deal with a grade but when it came to apptitude tests I was in the top of my class, yet my grades never showed it. I was a 3-Fs and 3-Ds in my sophomore year in high school, other factors were there though. I started my ritalin and went up to A’s, B’s and two C’s my junior year. I quit my ritalin my senior year and ended up getting my GED.

Basically, the world around me, talking as me, can be overwhelming. I need my “alone” time, always have. But you also need to know there are a lot of psychological factors like my home life that makes me different than many other ADD/ADHD people out there.

There are no clear cut answers when it comes to ADD/ADHD and how we feel as a group. But I do feel as though there are definate “distractions” to life as you know it. Maybe imagine your life with two TVs tuned into different channels, three radio stations, again, all different channels, all in one small room but if you try to focus on one thing, you can’t because there is too much going on around you that none of it makes sense.

I’ve had a fair number of students (grades K-2) that were put on Ritalin or other medications for ADD/ADHD. My observations have been that the drugs have:

  1. Helped them a great deal
  2. Not helped at all
  3. Been so touchy as far as dosage, that it took a long time to “tune” the effect so as to be helpful to the child.

In other words, I’ve seen the gamut. I have at least one student right now, a 1st grader, who has responded wonderfully to medical intervention. He can now pay attention, is succeeding in school, and seems a lot happier. And I reject the claim that medications fundamentally “change” kids. I think when used properly, they bring out the kid inside. The one we didn’t get to see when all the fireworks were going off inside their heads.

A final word - I don’t consider myself an advocate for medicating children with hyperactivity and/or attention disorders. As I say, I’ve seen the medications not help at all. But it is something to try when other options have exhausted themselves. I have never seen the teachers or schools who “rush to medicate” as the popular myth describes. It’s a very reasoned, and lengthy process, and one that is not undertaken lightly. And getting the dosage right can be tricky, so stay with it for a while.

Good luck.

Both of my children have been diagnosed ADD. Both of my children have/had a reading disability directly resulting from ADD. My daughter’s story is a sad one, she fell through the cracks. At a very early age she displayed “typical” ADD behavior. When she was a baby I thought her very advanced. She began “crusing” around the furniture the first week of her sixth month. She was walking on her own, running actually by the time she hit her 8th month. She was into everything. She could rarely be still long enough for me to feed her a bottle. Something that I was determined to do since I had read it was better to hold your baby and feed them as opposed to propping the bottle or allowing them to travel around with it. When you held her it was often in the “football” postion with your arm around her waist like a sack of potatoes, otherwise she squirmed too much and you’d loose your grip. She was fearless. She climbed everything. She jumped off of anything. She was swimming at 18 months. Riding a bike without training wheels at four, roller skating at 5.

Needless to say once she started school her exuberance and gross motor skills were not an asset. She couldn’t sit still or stop talking. She fought with peers a lot. Her fine motor skills needed for writing and doing math problems were not good. She wasn’t learning to read, she was faking it. Easy to do sometimes since most early readers have pictures. Her regular pediatrician was not interested in hearing about these problems. He loved her because she was bright, articulate, and never gave him the first bit of trouble during visits. However by the end of the 2nd grade we had learned that she could not read a lick. She was tested by the county for learning disabilities, standard proceedure around here. They found her to be lacking in word attack skills. She entered LD classes in the 3rd grade. The same year I left their father and moved in with my mother. She had an excellent teacher that year and by the end had pretty much caught up with her peers in reading. Her math was still a problem. She had also by this time developed a resentment toward school and learning in general. Her self esteem was gone.

We struggled and struggled. We cried and screamed and agonized over school work. She fought with peers. By the time she entered the 6th grade at the Junior High I had a surly, attitudal, unmotivated child on my hands. Despite putting her in sports, giving her private art lessons, and tutoring. Nothing was working. Granted I had left her father, she had given up her dog, and I was seeing a very inappropriate man, (I have many crosses to bare.) by the time we hit 8th grade she was acting out. My daughter is very beautiful and very tall. She has topped out at about 5’9" but she was always taller than most kids in her class. So by the time she hit 13 she looked 16 and my horror began. You see ADD kids regarless of their home environment are at greater risk for taking risks. Untreated ADD teens are more likely to act out sexually, experiment with drugs and alcohol, and engage in riskier behavior. It was around this time that we started seeing a counselor and she was finally tested by a psychologist. They prescribed Paxil, then Welburtrin because she was now clinically depressed. She was angry that’s for sure. We went through 2 years of hell.

This post is getting terribly wrong. And I would like to relate our experience with you. My son is turning out to be a different story or at least seems to be…I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

I have to go for a few minutes and when I walk away while posting the computer goes funny. Let me hit “reply” and I’ll come back again.


I don’t know if you’ve tried this (or even heard of it), but in my extensive research on low-carb diets, I’ve seen it mentioned quite a few times that children who exhibit ADD/ADHD behavior have shown huge improvement when their diet is controlled for refined sugar & flour…basically cutting out the junk food & sodas, etc. and sticking to whole, natural foods.

Just a thought, and I’ll slink back into my hole now. :smiley:

My daughter no longer gives us constant trouble. Her school work is still bad. We have talked about what she will do when she finishes high school. She’s decided on culinary school. I fear she will not pass this year, if not we will enroll her in the GED program. We are hoping that this will not ruin her chances to one day eventually attend Johnson and Wales, a culinary arts school in nearby Norfolk. She no longer stays out all night. She smokes behind my back. Smokes a little pot now and then I’m sure. But her attitude about boys has changed, thank goodness. There is no boyfriend at this time and no indication that she is interested in one. (Praise the lord and pass the potato salad!) She’s far more capable of doing better in school then she does. She is not on any medication and seems to have developed coping skills for her constantly racing brain. She does still occasionally go into her little fits of creative “frenzy”. My daughter is inclined toward creativity, she is good with her hands and has an unusual eye for color and form. Often she gathers up “junk” around the house and creates sculptures and collages. I’ve got the stuff all over my house. We call her our little “outsider” because she is always doing something unique and artistic. She is also a gifted athlete but not in the least bit motivated. She has gone back to playing recreational league softball, something that I am extremely thankful about.

My son’s story has been different. He was sick a lot as a baby, ear infections, RSV, and eventually tubes put in his ears. He’s spoiled rotten having lived with 3 women, one of them grandma since he was barely two. He started school but was simply not ready. He turned 5 in August and started in September. He was a very immature child. He had never attended day care. His babysitter was wonderful, like a family member she kept him right up until school started. But his social skills were good, he has always gotten along with his peers. Acutally he’s rather popular with girls and boys. I attribute this to his years at the sitters where he was exposed to children of all ages, but was not confined to the institutional type setting like day care.

School was difficult. He repeated kindergarten because he had not learned to sit still, line up, or control his little body. He was also suffering academically. In 1st grade it was suggested to me that he be tested for learning disabilities, I knew the routine. His first grade teacher went so far as to speculate that he was developmentally delayed. This did not prove to be true. He had a reading disability of course, he lacked word attack skills. So he immediately started LD classes. That year he did improve to some extent, by the start of 2nd grade he had completed with some difficulty the 1st grade reader. Last year was different. He didn’t click with his teacher and he had difficulty concentrating or controlling his talking. By the end of the school year his LD teacher was suggesting that he be given a trial on medication. It was the last 6 weeks and the dosage was low. We didn’t see much difference.

This year at his regular IEP meeting his new LD teacher and I discussed the plan. We went back to the doctor and she prescribed ritalin in a more appropriate dosage. He was taking a full dose in the morning and a half dose at lunch. By the end of the first 6 weeks the teacher was concerned about his reading level. She dropped him back one book and suggested that he be given a full dose at lunch. She has him in the afternoon and his concentration was not good. Back to the doctor we went and she readily agreed that to increase the dosage at lunch. It has made a difference. He just recieved a report card last week. These past two report cards have been great! His teacher tells me that the reading has finally “clicked”. He knows how to determine long and short vowels, silents and can sound out just about any word! She says the afternoon dosage change has helped. And what’s even more encouraging is his attitude. She says he is motivated and wants to learn. He is very receptive to working with a goals or reward system. I’m so pleased. If we can just keep it this way, maybe one day my son will be able to go to college!!! We are a little worried about how he will do on the new SOL test. Here in Virginia they are attempting to put into effect a law that will prevent a student from advancing to the next grade if they do not recieve a passing grade, regardless of their grades during the year. Naturally I am against this being the mother of a special needs student.

Anyway, my son is a mover and a shaker. He’s not artistically inclined like his sister, he’s musically inclined. We all have a very good sense of rhythm but this kid has perfect timing. If he continues to do well this year and learns to cope more, next year I will enroll him in piano lessons. (My mother plays.) He plays sports, is very good on his feet naturally, but he has a little trouble following the rules. He’s a natural like his sister but gets a little too agressive. Which is normal for a boy and especially for an ADHD boy. I can tell you that my son has some strange little traits that I attribute to his ADD. He’s my “goofy guy”. Most of the time he seems like he doesn’t have a care in the world, or that he wouldn’t have a deep thought if you threw him down a well. You can be carrying on a perfectly normal converstation and all of a sudden he’s talking about something completely off topic. He’s out on Saturn somewhere! Others find it strange, I’m used to it now. But then there are times when out of the blue he will come up with some of the most mature, and complex ideas that it shocks you. Then you know he isn’t quite so “goofy”, he just thinks differently.

Anyway, we have not seen one adverse side effect from the ritalin. He sleeps well, eats as well as ever (He’s skinny and never been a big eater.) and by the time he gets home in the afternoon he’s the same little tyrant his sister and I are used too putting up with. (He’s the only man in the house and takes it quite seriously. LOL)

I have to go…I can give you a couple of pointers but they are standard for dealing with an ADD kid. Consistancy and structure are very important. My kids love routine.


Aside from having ADD myself I’ve tried many different medications, known many people with the disorder, and have done much research on the the subject in my spare time.

For many people with ADD/ADHD medication is definitely a worthwhile route to persue. Ritilin would be the drug to try first since it seems to work for the most people. I would advise against trying the slow release (SR) form of the drug, though, as I’ve found it to deliver an inconsistant level of the drug throughout the day.

Your daughter will have to find out what dosage best suits her. Most people take a dosage of 5-10 mg in the morning and at noon. For some people just the morning dose is sufficient. Side effects may be bothersome when she first starts to take it but they should subside after a few days or so as her body gets used to the drug.

Me: I first tried Ritilin and noticed an improvement, not a big improvement - but a noticible one. I could better focus my mind on things I had to get done and there were less distractions. But then I decided that I wanted to try Dexedrine (after being on Ritilin a year or so), and see if it would make a bigger difference for me. Now Dexedrine’s pretty strong–it’s just shy of methamphetamine (crank, speed,etc…) so I had to persuade my hesitant psychiatriast to give it a go and he finally caved in. So I gave it a try and there was a significant improvement over Ritilin for me. Ever since then I’ve taken it and it’s great, I can really focus when I need to and push the distractions aside. FYI, I’m in college right now, taking nearly all technical classes and I score mostly As and Bs. I can say that Dexedrine helps me a great deal.

But one important thing to note is that if something works for one person that doesn’t mean it will work for another.

Taking the drug only when it’s needed is a good idea. If I take the drug on a regular basis, like every day, it starts to lose its wanted effect. Some people I’ve known that’ve had this problem and like to take it regularly alternate between Ritilin and Dexedrine or Dexedrine and ADDerall, for instance. FYI, Adderall is essentially Dexedrine, it’s not really the same thing but, you can think of it as a mirror image of the Dexedrine molecule.

What’s it like having ADD?
See with us ADD folk our attention span is either extremely focused or weakly focused - jumping from thing to thing. We tend to extremely focus |hyperfocus| on things that interest us. Otherwise our minds tends to wander. Like today, for instance, I was in a University Chemistry 2 class and as the teacher was talking about London Dispersion Forces and diagraming a molecule: I looked at the lines she drew and saw a pattern similar to a folded paper airplane. Then I thought about the last time I flew in an airplane…looking out the window at the engine. Then I start thinking about the mechanics of the plane engine, and then to think that I need to change my oil in 3 weeks and do some work on my car. All this in a matter of seconds while I’m staring at the chalkboard. It’s hard for us ADD people to keep our mind on task at times 'cause our minds like to wander.

What the medication does for the ADD mind is dull the wandering and lengthen the attention span. You could say it makes us ADD people somewhat normal. :wink:

Nobody can say for sure but it’s likely true–that if various medication treatment renders no signigicant improvement for the individual, the person probably doesn’t have ADD. That aside, there are treatment resistant people out there who do not respond to medication and do have ADD.

Also, some things I’ve found that help my ADD a lot [almost as much as the medication] are: music, exercise, little sugar intake and (as others have mentioned), being on a schedule.

Well I’m tired of typing now… :slight_smile:

I also wanted to share this website with you…check it out. It focuses on the positive aspects of being diagnosed ADD.


Needs2know wrote:

This is an improvement?

Many thanks to the people who have posted so far.

To address a few points raised. Yes, exhaustive tests are being done and we have more than one medical opinion - the current round of test being done have been arranged by a specialist paediatrician and are investigation things other than ADD/ADHD.

Allergies were long ago excluded from the equation and diet makes no measurable difference in my daughter compared to other children (ie a couple of cans of Coke or lots of sugar affect her behaviour no more than they do that of other children).

Yes, she does think at a million miles an hour and this is something which is having a massive impact on her life; 1) she is utterly relentless on her need for activity (verbal and physical), and 2) the speed at which her mind operates combined with her impulsiveness causes a great many social problems for her. I am not kidding when I say that she very rarely goes for more than 30 seconds without talking, and displays the social clumsiness (such as constant interrupting and an inability to read social cues) common to many people with ADD/ADHD.

Ritalin and Dextamphetamine are highly controlled substances here and special permission has to be granted by a specialist committee for them to be prescribed for use in children (in some states this permission must be granted before a trial can be commenced).

Another emergent problem is that as my daughter progresses through school the school environment is less structured and the expectation is that she will be more and more able to work without supervision. In fact, like many kids with ADD/ADHD, she focuses best in a one on one, step by step learning situation. As she gets older, less of the world in which she must function is highly structured.

At this point, the only decision I need to make is about allowing the trial; what occurs during the trial period will raise questions about whether to continue medication, try alternate medications etc.

The reason I’ve asked for subjective opinions is because studies don’t necessarily reflect the experience of actually taking these drugs and there seems little point in medicating people to achieve some arbitrary standard of “desirable” behaviour if the means to achieve than standard makes the person themselves miserable or creates other, more severe problems for them.

I’m certainly not out to make my child in to some compliant zombie, our goal at this stage is to tone down the most extreme of her behaviours and the ones which lead to her suffering considerable and distressing consequences.

I took ritalin for a while as a grown-up. I was diagnosed with ADD and I decided to do the medication thing for a while to see if it made a difference. It did, but…once I was able to observe the difference, I was able to start weaning myself off it and make the concious efforts to change my behavior towards how I wanted it. It took a lot of work though and I still find myself “task-jumping” a bit more than I like.

That said, I hated the generic stuff. It upset my stomach and gave me headaches. The “brand name” medication was far…smoother…? (Keep in mind, there was no double-blind test, and my perceptions weren’t measured at all, so it could easily be all in my head.)

It took me about two weeks to get used to Ritilan and to notice different behaviours (“Hey! I can switch back and forth between several boring jobs! Wha?”). The other thing to be aware of is that you still have to work to change your behavior: no drug is a panacea. Being able to focus for longer periods of time is great, but not if you’re focusing on the TV. Like Silo, I switched to Dexidrine and had better experiences. Far easier on my stomach. And, like Silo, I started doing the As-Needed method as soon as I could, but I’m not sure how well that would work for a 9 year old or someone with a severe case of ADD (schedules and regimens can be really really helpful!)

Silo exactly nailed it when he described ADD. I was either hyper-FOCUSED on one thing and I’d do it for hours, never noticing the time, or I couldn’t focus on anything for hours at a time. There was no happy medium. For me, with a relativly mild case, medication was more useful as a learning tool (“This is what it feels like to work on a job for 30 minutes without a break, then stop and go onto a new job”) and I was able to “learn” how to do it on my own. I still take dexidrine if I’m going to be in a very fast paced, multi-tasking situation, and I probably will always have to. However, even on a day-to-day basis I’m able to function far better having taken the meds.


Have you ever heard of a “non-verbal” learning disability?

I once had a student with such a diagnosis, and was told that it was pretty rare. He was unable to process any information that was not verbal. Tone of voice, body language, anything subtle like that was incomprehensible to him.

Subsequently, his verbal skills were over developed to compensate. Constant talking and interrupting. And he took everything quite literally. The incident that stands out in my mind was early in the year (before I had been told about him - crappy administration) when he kicked another student. I reprimanded him, saying don’t kick the other kids. So he turns around, and in my plain sight, goes over and punches the kid! Naturally, I’m shocked, and ask him if he heard what I just said? He says, “Yes, you told me not to kick him. I didn’t kick him.”

Of course I thought he was being a smart-ass and trucked him off to the principal. But I later learned he was quite serious and didn’t understand what he had done wrong. You had to be completely literal with him, and leave no details out or he didn’t get it.

I don’t mean to be giving you an armchair diagnosis. I’m hardly qualified for that. But, just something to think about.