By Angel Swemmer, a mom to a teenage-almost-adult ADHDer and what I write is purely my opinion on things I feel strongly about, based on my experience as an ADHDer parent. Author of the blog Angelsmind and maker of fabulous cupcakes
Over and above the debate about whether or not to medicate a diagnosed ADHDer, this is possibly the next most contentious issue- with parents and professionals differing in opinion.
Many parents are told by their child’s doctor- if they decide to medicate their ADHDer with stimulant medication- that it is okay to stop meds over weekends and during school holidays. Contrary to popular belief, the main reason this practice was even started was because one of the side effects of stimulant meds is a suppressed appetite, and sometimes these kids battle to pick up weight. The idea of “meds holidays” was a way to let the child gain some of his or her appetite whilst off his medication.
Here’s why I don’t agree with taking a break.
Medicating an ADHDer aids him in quieting his brain so that he can take in what he’s hearing in any given situation. It aids him in not getting out of his seat or calling out in class without realising he’s doing it. The right dosage of the right meds can do wonders for an ADHDer at school.
But that’s not all.
Having a less rushed, more organised thought process allows an ADHDer to learn from social cues as well. When he can focus, he can pay attention to you as his parent when you are trying to teach him a life lesson like not interrupting an adult conversation, or waiting his turn for the swings in the park.
When he can focus properly on what is going on around him, he will most likely take a bath, try to tidy his room, or get ready to go out for a visit almost when you ask him to.
If like my son Damien, your ADHDer has ADHD combined type- inattention and hyperactivity- then every single aspect of his life is affected by his disorder and he will need full time treatment. Why risk subjecting him to possible ridicule or let his self-esteem take a hammering in social situations? Look back a little on your own experiences as a parent to your ADHDer. When you do not medicate him, and you spend time with friends and family on weekends and during holidays, does your ADHD child have any fun? Do you? Are you constantly asking him to sit still, to talk softer, to eat “nicely”, not to shout, not to climb on granny, to get off the table…?
That said, if your ADHDer only battles with concentration but not with hyperactivity and his biggest issues are school related, then perhaps a medication break or a reduced dose over weekends will not have as big an impact as on a hyperactive ADHDer.
I do suggest that you take into account your child’s own history, personality and behaviour before deciding to stop his medication entirely, simply because the doctor said you can or because your child isn’t going to school that day.
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