My husband and I couldn’t help but be affected by the chorus of voices pronouncing the evils of “drugging your kid.” So at first we avoided ADHD medications. We sought out a therapist and worked with the child study team at her school to develop an individualized education plan (IEP) with an array of tools, resources, and adjustments to help her succeed—such as extra time on tests, seating near the teacher, and extra in-class teaching support.
And it helped. But it wasn’t enough.
By fourth grade, she continued to struggle even with her IEP interventions, and homework was still a daily misery. She’d come home, take one look at the assignment, and whimper, “I need help!” A couple of pages of work took hours and almost always ended in tears (not just hers).
After talking with her child psychiatrist, we decided to try a stimulant in the Adderall/Ritalin family known as Quillivant XR—for “extended release.” She would take it before leaving for school in the morning, and its effects should last through the end of the school day and homework time.
For the first couple of days after she started medication, the homework routine stayed the same. She’d look at it and whimper, “I need help.” But then one day—I’ll never forget this—she started, “I need help … oh, wait. No I don’t.” And we soon heard from her teachers. “Annika is doing so much better in school! She’s participating in class and answering questions and understanding the lessons.”