As the mother of a teenager with ADHD soon entering high school, I want to know the pros and cons of medication. If you are a parent reading this, you likely do, too. And I will admit, I’m torn.
The research seems too unfinished for me to rely on it as much as I might like.
Consider that over 40 scholars from the UK, USA, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Australia (told you it’s big) will be reviewing various “pharmacological interventions” to rank how well they work and their “tolerability profiles,” looking at these things for children, teens and adults. The scholars note that “there is a lack of up-to-date and comprehensive evidence on how available ADHD drugs compare and rank” with regard to their ability to deliver desired results and to do so with tolerable side effects. See more here.
But do we keep waiting for what seem to be more definitive answers? At what cost?
Consider this…recent research suggests that school could be a more rewarding experience for children and teens with ADHD who use medication for their symptoms. Examining about 10, 0000 12-year-old twins, some who’d been followed since 7 years of age, researchers found that medication-free children with ADHD showed lower educational achievement than children with ADHD using methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), who showed lower educational achievement than children without ADHD. That is, ADHD appeared to lead to lower educational achievement but especially so if it was unmedicated ADHD. Plus ADHD symptoms also predicted a negative educational trajectory from 14 to 16 years of age. See study here.
Where does this leave us as parents wanting our children to have the best chance at achieving what deep down really matters to them?
It leaves me leaning toward the test of experience. I am willing to let my teen, when wishing to do so, swallow a pill as I (figuratively) swallow mine.
Meanwhile, I will keep combing the research….