Daniel Lauzon

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ADHD, Friendships, Social Skills and Medication Am I wrong to not wanting to medicate my son ?

I am a full time dad alone with my son for the past 7 years, no family to help us, I have been dedicating my life towards helping him to succeed in school.
The school is pressuring me to get him on medication.
I am also with ADD/ADHD I tried the medication and the side effect was so bad that I decided to not expose my son to it.

at time he can have 100% in his math test and other time 60% his spelling is the same. Where my son is struggling is in social skills, routine.

Are those issue will change with time?
Am I preventing him of a opportunity to learn more ?
What are the long term effect of all these new drugs ?

He is a very happy child considering he has no mother and rarely has friends over , he is a avide reader , each night he has to read his book, he is very articulate , and has empathy, good communications skills, and best of all he want.s to be a Doctor when he grows up
when I told his principal about his goal she laugh.

Medication Vyvience. Aderall ....

With my son I only use Food, exercise, positive renforcement, patience, understanding, empathy, workshops, play, and time with him lots of time with him, to a point where I have been single for the past 7 years.

Help and advise would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time
a Happy dad

Closing Statement from Daniel Lauzon

Thank you Teders!
All your supports and comments it gives me the courage to keep going and keeping it real for my son as of now I am still keeping him off med but I am seeking specialist to further more his diagnostic
I want to give him the chance that I didn't have when I was his age.

Understanding , Patience, Empathy, Time, Love.

Thank you
We are not alone
Daniel & Elton

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    Apr 10 2011: I am far from a Doctor but I would have to say that the biggest epidemic today of the medicating of human beings. When I taught I asked why so many children had to leave my class to go and see the school nurse to get medication for ADHA? The answer was because they move a round in class and disturb the learning process. Could it be because the learning process is ridiculously long and tedious? I love to learn but for gods sake I need to get up and move around a little, that's the way humans have developed over the years. I have an idea instead of medicated children why don't we give them a ball and take them out into the fresh air to run around and interact and if we are very good teacher we will make that the learning opportunity instead.

    This is also a brilliant talk by Sir Ken and it highlights why children for the most part appear to suffer from ADHA .

    • Apr 10 2011: Humanity would be well served with a few more (better still, many more) teachers like you, Lee. Thanks.
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      Apr 21 2011: Can't thumbs you up anymore Lee
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    Apr 20 2011: I am really worried about any society that decides that boys being what boys naturally are: energetic, spontaneous and fascinated by novelty- is a reason to medicate them. It seems to me that schools as they are today are best suited for girls because teachers find it easiest to teach to them.
    Having said that, I do think it is important to listen to feedback. If your son is having trouble socially that will shape him too. Can you find ways to introduce him to like minded boys? As a mother of four grown sons I always took it upon myself to augment the education that they got in schools. Given that he loves to read- I suggest library reading groups. Canadian libraries are the best resource in the world. From talking books to summer reading clubs they offer so much to a kid who loves to read - including exposure to others like themselves. You can also help by modeling manners to your son so that he understands what to do in complex social situations. I have a friend who has a son with Fragile X the most heritable form of mental retardation and she has done an amazing job with him simply by contiuously modelling and demonstrating the right or expected behaviour and practicing it at home. Although this is totally unlike the situation you are dealing with- it shows that even kids with severe deficits can be really helped by proactive parenting.
    Hang in Daniel- You will both survive and thrive!
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    Apr 12 2011: Hey Daniel,

    I also have a son diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, a double- and triple-negative acronym intended to alarm parents and send us sprinting to the doctor and pharmacist, I believe. I prefer my own acronym, the only one my son ever hears me use: ACT or Abundant Creative Thoughts.

    From what I read here it sounds to me like your son is getting the ideal prescription in the form of you, e.g., food, exercise, positive reinforcement, patience, understanding, empathy, workshops, play, and quality time with Dad. Kudos to you. Early on with my own son, when I saw the potential for problems in his socializing and sports, I volunteered to coach his youth sports, e.g., Little League baseball. I wanted to be hands-on and in the middle of things when his wandering mind needed to be re-focused. In the past my wife and I have used stimulants (Ritalin then Adderall) with him, but his lack of weight gain and mood swings became such a concern that we stopped. The initial uptick with meds appeared to help his classroom focus, according to teachers, but at home in the evenings, as the extended-release stimulants wore off, he acted depressed. One summer we removed all medicines and found him to be happier and far more steady morning to night.

    That's not to say all cases are the same. I believe there are varying degrees of ACT and certainly the environmental aspects are different for each child. If you tried meds with your son, if only for a month or two, you might decide to the pluses outweigh the negatives. But it sounds to me like you have a smart, well-read kid who is going to make a valuable contribution to the world as he progresses in his education and creative thinking.

    My wife and I recently read a book that you might find helpful: "Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention" by Katherine Ellison, a mother who is battling some of the same decisions and predicaments as we are. Best of luck to you and your son. ~ greg
  • Apr 8 2011: You have to ask yourself & answer a few questions.... Is not medicating your son more about you or honestly about him? Some times parents are more concerned about their image among friends and family than their child who is diagnosed with something considered to be bad. Has the school & teacher tried multiple things to help accommodate him? If no, ask them to. If yes, you should consider meds , especially if he is interrupting the class & making it difficult for him and/or other students to learn. Just because medication did not work for you does not necessarily mean it will not work for your son. The most common side effects are decreased appetite & can interfere with sleep if taken too late ) If you decide to try it, remember you can stop it if it does not work, but you may need to try a couple different ones before you come to that conclusion. At least you can say you tried it. Children and teens that are left untreated are at increased risk for substance use, poor school performance, low self esteem, depression, anxiety (especially if constantly being punished and lack social skills). Everyone will not have the time or patience you have with your son or be able to give him that 1:1 attention. After you & the school have tried multiple non-medicine interventions, consider meds. If he is like a zombie his dose is too high, if things do not improve significantly (not necessarily 100%) dose may be too low or you need try a different med. Talk to the doctor about not giving it to him on the weekends, during summertime/out of school, etc. Keep it about your son, not you. My son is 9 & he has ADHD and takes meds, but not before I tried multiple things. He likes not "getting in trouble all of the time" at school & be. He calls it his " concentration medicine" and willingly takes it (95% of time). I do not allow his siblings to say anything negative about ADHD or taking meds. I also read a kids book to him about ADHD & school, which he could relate to
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      Apr 8 2011: Thank you Kathy
      I see you know what I am going through and what you say is right.
      He was already assessed in at the same time as me working trough workshops, and using all the little trick I have learned helped to keep him at a certain level but I start to wonder could he be more. As of now he has good grade and in my book its good. but like you said it me!

      I maybe should talk to him about it and ask his opinion to see what he thinks of it
      would that be wrong?

      Thank you
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    Apr 21 2011: For what my two cents are worth and my experience with drugs, I can only tell you drugs lead to more drugs if not educated appropriately about the drugs.

    Also, ADD/ADHD is probably a result of your son not being an academic based student, which neither am I, he may be artistic or mechanical. I do not know how it works in Canada but in America the home schooling system seems to be far superior in education than that of public education. The down fall of course is the ability to mingle and associate with other students, however this can be compensated. Put your child into a martial art, boy scouts, or anything communal.

    If you want to remain in the system, place him into an extra curricular activity anyways. The main "issue" I see with kids that cannot sit still is they are not putting energy to good use and are being told to sit still and listen and not express themselves fully. I would argue ADD/ADHD if used properly would make a child far more superior in thought if harnessed correctly.

    It's funny because a kid with supposed ADD/ADHD can't learn properly as a teacher/doctor would suggest medicine but put them in front of a video game they will be good for 8 hours straight! It is easy to make a kid quiet through pills, it is difficult to feed there drives of interest!

    If I remain in the states when I have a child they will be home schooled no question, academic education destroys thinking and makes a child a mindless consumer zombie.

    You sound like a good parent, so screw the teachers, you know what is best you are the parent, if the problem is persistent research alternatives to drugs or look up less powerful ones. Education is key my friend, it will set the world free from illusionary superiority.
  • Apr 21 2011: @Daniel, should you choose to try medication I'd encourage you to be patient (it can take time to find a med and dose that feel right) and involve your child in the process, checking in frequently (which it sounds like you do plenty of). And if you do decide to try meds, don't see it as an admission of defeat, because it isn't. There's a lot of how-dare-you-medicate-your-child rhetoric out there, but it largely springs from ignorance and fear. Do the research yourself, and find a good child psychiatrist to help weigh the options. And all the things you do now for your son you'll want to continue doing, because it's all important and it all helps.

    Once more to your questions...

    Kids' brains change very quickly, and it's good to take med holidays periodically to see how they do without it (many people skip on weekends and summer). In many cases (but not all), kids need them less as they age. The hope is that the meds make it easier for them to learn and practice new skills, the benefits of which remain without the meds.

    You won't be preventing him from learning--the real goal is to make the learning less painful. When the meds work well, they allow kids with ADHD to worry less about the things they don't do well. If there's one thing school is good at, it's beating kids up over their weak spots, sadly.

    The long-term effects are frankly not well known. Someone else here noted that several studies associate lower likelihood of drug abuse for kids with ADHD. The more you learn about ADHD, the less surprising this is, given the higher likelihood of self-medication. Against that unknown, however, there's plenty of data about adults with untreated ADHD that isn't pretty.

    I have huge respect and sympathy for you, and I wish you well. Your son is lucky to have such an understanding father, which is more than half the battle with ADHD. Here's an unusually helpful and honest site: http://healthlifeandstuff.com/category/adhd/.
  • Apr 20 2011: @ Daniel. KUDOS to you. I think the first thing you need to do as a parent is to trust your decisions. I saw a comedian who stated that since the drugs for ADD, ADHD are amphetamines, the teachers should be given the drugs to speed them up instead of slowing the children down.
  • Apr 18 2011: I, like most people here, am not qualified to say if any child needs medication. But here is a thought: If the figures we hear are correct, many many children are using medication for ADHD. 50 Years ago, this was not the case. If there is no reason to believe that ADHD did not exist then, children in those days would have had the same incidence of ADHD. If it were imperative for children to take this medication in order to lead full, happy and productive lives, we would therefore see that in those days a large part of children did badly in school, socially etc. Was this the case?

    In other words: before we had Ritalin, did a huge percentage of children not learn? Did they lead dysfunctional lives? Did everything go awry because they found it hard to concentrate or sit still? Is present-day society overrun with people who would have done better had they been medicated as children?

    I don't claim to have the answer, but it seems like a valid question. I think people just got on with it.
    I worked with some very difficult children in Brazil, where medication is not an option. We managed and they were fine. In a school over here (europe) most of them would have been diagnosed with ADHD. On the other hand you sometimes hear from people that the chaos in their heads calmed when they started Ritalin and they are happier for it. To me, that is the only valid reason for medication: it makes you feel better. If not, don't medicate.
    • Apr 20 2011: ADHD is a recent label, but the set of traits and behaviors that it describes are quite old indeed. As for where these kids were 50+ years ago, the fact is that many were sent to "reform" schools with the other so-called bad kids, where they could be belittled, incarcerated and beaten out of public view.

      With the advent of amphetamine use in the 1930s, some adults reported paradoxical effects: they felt calmed rather than stimulated. An enterprising physician administered it to a group of boys from a reform school and was astonished by the change: they stopped fighting, started interacting with the staff, and were able to control their own behavior better. When he made his results public, the overwhelming reaction was that the medication was a cheat--these bad kids needed to learn how to behave better through arduous effort.

      While we may view these kids with more sympathy now, the attitudes are surprisingly similar. Of course, if a kid has blurry vision, we wouldn't ask him to simply squint more and make do without glasses. The medication is simply a tool, and ADHD is simply a set of traits: by no means all negative. People with ADHD are also dreamers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. It's only a disorder to the extent that the negative traits make it difficult to pursue and cultivate the positive traits. If medication helps that process, that's a good thing.

      I worry when conversations about ADHD get muddled with very valid criticisms about traditional education. Not all students have ADHD (and it's under-diagnosed in many girls with the inattentive type), but those who do tend to have a tougher time with the traditional format (and the struggle takes a hefty toll).

      Is the medication sometimes used to make kids better at being part of a system we don't like? Sure, but that's too narrow a view. If meds can also help kids do what they love, and make the things they/we don't love easier, surely that counts too.
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        • Apr 21 2011: Hi Julian,

          Actually, I would say that physical differences and neurological differences can certainly be compared. Treatment of people with physical disabilities has clearly changed over time, as has the willingness of societies to adapt communal spaces for them (e.g., ADA). And yet, what do we call something that we feel someone shouldn't have to rely on?...A "crutch" of course. We still have a long way to go.

          And yes, you're taking what I think is a complicated and nuanced point and treating it as an extreme point of view. I'm not claiming that this is a simple decision, or that there is only one right way to decide it. But reasonable, compassionate parents end up facing this decision every day, and I don't see how that sort of "pig in a cage" rhetoric helps them.

          The meds aren't magic, and no one claims they are. For a third or so of people (adults and children) meds don't work at all. But when they help someone, why stigmatize them (or their parents)? Kids and adults with ADHD have been stigmatized for centuries, so they're used to it, but maybe we can do better.

          This goes to your point that people with different characteristics shouldn't be viewed as sick. I agree! That was my whole point! ADHD is a set of traits that can enable people to do amazing things, but it can also create a set of challenges that can be disabling. It's only a disorder to the extent that it gets in the way of functioning. It's not entirely true, but the axiom is that people with ADHD will grow up to change the world or end up in drug-addicted and incarcerated. Anything that can help tip that ratio toward the world-changers should be welcomed.
  • Apr 8 2011: ADHD kids have to MOVE their bodies..in order to Think. If you give your child medication that stops that..then you know..what the future outcome will be.
    Schools were designed around the Industrial Revolution..when we needed workers...and this system is still set in place...to create more worker bees or drones..however you look at it..Medicating your child will create a drone like affect..by that I mean..it will kill his spark..which will destroy him slowly....but what if..you put him in a dance class?? whatever dance..he enjoyed..what kind of Activity would be created?
    We would rather control than understand..and the more we control..the less we understand it..We won't take the time..to fully understand the evolutionary purpose/reasoning behind ADD/ADHD ..rather we just want it gone....Ask: But what if we need fast/creative thinkers in the future to think up solutions to problems we have't been faced with??

    what if we need daring individuals who arn't conditioned to fear...to help the rest of us...

    what if we need such traits..in the future...to save us...just from an evolutionary perspective..
    what if we would all need to MOVE in the future..to THINK...what then? We are a society of Instant Gratificationists..and its all Centered on ME thinking.. We see Problem, Gratify us with a Solution..

    Also..We want others to do what we, ourselves wouldn't want to do...example..we want other people to put their children on medication..but we wouldn't take the medication ourselves or give it to our loved ones...
    You don't need..Drones judging your son..if you need anymore..clarity on the matter..Just See Ken Robinson's lectures....and apply it to your life..or your son's life..and then Re-Evaluate..the need to ask for HELP..and question..if its Truly necessary..or can we just Co-exist...before we become Co-Dependant on drugs..to numb us to the point of no return... Also please see: Hyper Activity..youtube video feed..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsiJgEG22no
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    Apr 8 2011: How come school decides the diagnosis, it's the domain of doctors. Yes in internet or from other source people get lot of resources on different diseases for patient and public in general, those are not for diagnosing rather to handle better the condition after diagnosis by a qualified physician.

    Your son is an avid reader , which is very unusual for an ADD/ADHD to my layman knowledge. Poor result in standardize exam doesn't mean some kid has some problem or disorder. It's conventional thinking of teachers (referring to Sir Ken)

    You are really a great dad I feel. Keep on doing what you are doing, find out what your son is more interested with & even than if you have doubt , please consult a very good psychiatrist / neurologist (very good does not mean who has lot of patient and fame , rather who gives proper time to patient and care givers , difficult task ! I know)
    Wishing best for you and your son. Cheers
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      Apr 8 2011: Thank you Salim

      It means a lot to me
      he's in a new school as we just moved back from Ontario to Quebec so is a bit lost I know he can do better in du time the school don't know him and wont accomodate him until next year lack of Budjet
      I plan a Good IEP for him and working with his teacher to optimize his chance of being understood, and helped.

      and I can tell you Sir Ken has it right I am with add and I agree with his Talk
      Thanks again
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        Apr 8 2011: You are welcome Daniel my friend though nothing to thank really.While reading your post was feeling myself at your place (I am dad as well , and know how it feels when kids have any difficulty), so tried to write something with my limited knowledge and ability with a hope , if it works.

        You see there some other points which can distract him. As you moved , he is in a new place, new school, new people, new surrounding may be even new climate. It's really hilarious , someone from school is concluding with out considering these facts even and that's happening in the 1st world country like Canada , you can understand what can happen in country like mine !!

        The other problem is in this era of so called modern living , we want kids to act like adults. If kids don't jump, run , be ever curious how come they remain kids. Our modern society really have low threshold for childlike things. Thats a pity really !
        Have a good day with your son.
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    Apr 8 2011: try meditation?
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      Apr 8 2011: we do and some Yoga when I take the time
      I suspect that it's not add I also know that his mother was drinking during the 9 month not sure how much but it could be a mild FASD
      more testing will be done as soon as I can get the support for that in the mean time
      All I do with him helps.

      Thanks Tim
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    May 5 2011: As someone who has been on ADD medication (dexamphetamine) on and off for the past 12 years i would say give part of the choice to him. My parents always gave me that choice and i think it helped me develop a lot!

    When i was in 3-8 it helped me so much but it was also a curse. My personality became mute and i raged at the smallest thing when it wore off. i stopped taking them when i was in year 9 because i found they changed who i was. Now with Uni and work I have my script back BUT I'm only taking them when i need them for large assignments and on a smaller dose!

    I only ever took my ADD medication when i was in school. Weekends and holidays were drug free 100%!

    I'm by no means a father but i know what its like to be a kid. Don't listen to the school... take him to a specialist who will test him for it. A specialist will do all sort of cognitive tests with a skull cap like thing that monitors your brain activity and all that (well thats what i did)

    Like Greg said your kid sounds pretty on the ball... maybe he is just being a kid and there is nothing wrong with him! He could just be feeling unchallenged by the work and he becomes uninterested and does't do it...

    What ever your decision, good luck!
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    Apr 19 2011: my son is 12 yrs old now in 6th grade. when he was 4 yrs old in pre-K he ran around his class like some kinda maniac and his teacher had him evaluated by the school psychologist. I was called in to a meeting with the teacher, principal, and school psychologist and was told I needed to take his hyperactive butt to the doctor and get him placed on ritalin posthaste.
    I told those people that i was NOT going to do that. He was a teeny little active curious healthy 4 yr old boy and if they thought he sat still at home they were sadly mistaken. I told them that I was in the process of teaching the boy (get ready for this) SELF CONTROL. I told them even at the tender age of 4 i would snatch that boy up when he got overly rambunctous and remind him that i might swat his butt to remind him how to behave but HE was the one who actually had to make himself behave. His squirmy little body, he had to control it. I then told them that i was enlisting THEM in my endeavor to educate and enlighten my child by charging them with my method - when the little squirt got out of control it was THEIR job to remind him that he had to control himself. It might be a seemingly never-ending process of "reminding the boy" ~ but that was what they were to do, and be gentle and compassionate about it. And each year he has progressed a little more and a little more & now he is perfectly acceptable socially (well as socially acceptable as a 12 yr old can be). There are kids in his grade who ARE still on ritalin and they are big ol' messes. and i'm very proud of my boy & he is proud of him too - cuz HE did it, he DOES it every day. ya gotta teach your kid this stuff. I've always been a very open and honest mommy, but it seems to do the children right, i have a 26 yr old kid too & she is a sweet, fun, funny, prosperous, loving member of society. good luck with peace and love
  • Apr 14 2011: I have had ADHD for as long as i can remember and as a student in high school i can give you some help as for what your son could go through without medication.

    I take Ritalin in the morning and i usually feel tired for a good while after taking it. After a couple of weeks you get used to the feeling and there are not many side effects that i notice.

    But the days i don't take my medication are days where my mind runs free, my ideas are more creative and my judgment is skewed. i often get in trouble if I don't take it.

    My recommendation is to give him the medication during the school days if he is getting in trouble or being disruptive, but on the weekends and during holidays and vacation don't. But I'm just a teenager, so take what i say with thought.
  • Apr 14 2011: Almost 15% of the children in America's public schooling system are on some sort of medication for ADD or ADHD. I find it hard to believe that this is because over six million children in the United States have this disorder. Medication seems to be a first resort for any sort of mental or social incongruity. Psychostimulants, or sit-down-and-shut-up pills as I call them, have a horrible impact on a child's creative output. I've experienced a similar thing with my experience with childhood onset Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. My case is a rather mild one, and by the time I hit high school I had worked out the quirks in my mind to the point that it didn't affect me socially. I would hallucinate music, and it was looking like I would have an enjoyable career as a composer. It was at that point that it was decided I should probably be put on medication. I was on three different medications, two of which almost killed me. My skill as a musician was also killed, and even though I have been off of any sort of medication for six months I still can't write music like I could. I started on medication when I was 18. Imagine how medication would affect your song if you started him at this young of an age. I have immense respect for you as a parent for taking the time to find out what is best for your son. My personal advice is to be patient and realize that one day your son is going to do something wonderful that no one else can even imagine.
  • Apr 10 2011: Daniel, drugs should be an absolute, absolute, absolute last resort and the diagnosis should not be made by a teacher but by a qualified doctor. There may be a legitimate health concern but I have heard many nightmare stories of ADHD simply because a drugged child is easier for the teachers to control. School grades are not the be all and end all. Homeschooling is an option if that is possible for you. There are support groups in Toronto. If not, it seems to me you are already on a good path of food, exercise etc. As for the principal, ignore her. Good luck, stay strong.
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    Apr 8 2011: he is very articulate , and has empathy, good communications skills---these are good social skills or do you mean he only feel comfortable using it with you rather than other people?
    what would it be like for you to find other people who could help in your community?cuz sounds to me you are quite alone on this?