A parent and then a teenager recently asked me this question. A student is on medication because he meets criteria for ADHD (whether inattentive or combined type). That means the individual performed worse than at least 93 percent of students his age in organizational skills, paying attention, following directions, planning how to meet goals, keeping track of materials and sticking with a task until the end – not a good way to begin the school year.
The first week of school is when teachers lay out the agenda – the expectations, the rules, the routine, what supplies students need, how many books they will read and so on. The teacher and peers will develop their first impression of your student in that first week. If the student with ADHD is not on medication, what will the impression be? Will the first impression be that she calls out and interrupts the teacher and her peers? Will it be that she seems confused, daydreams and is easily distracted? None of these behaviors form a positive first impression. Medication is intended to help control these symptoms. A parent would not send a child with diabetes to school and wait to see what happens.
Teenagers on medication for ADHD frequently wonder whether their symptoms would reappear if they stopped taking their medication. Likely their grades have improved to a degree, and there have been fewer negative reports from school. If the teenager wants to go for a certain time period without medication later in the school year, let his teachers know. The teachers will be able to provide objective feedback about how the trial is going. The individual with ADHD will not be the best judge of his performance without medication. Grades, assignment completion, class participation and productivity will be objective indicators of the student’s functioning without medication. Changes can be made accordingly!
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at .