Finding the right treatment has made a huge difference for these kids.
Jadyn Koss, age 9
Treatment: Stimulant medication
Since she was diagnosed at 6 1/2, Jadyn has tried five different stimulants because some of them caused side effects like irritability and sleep problems. Still, her mother, Melinda, says the medications have been a blessing. "Jadyn used to twirl around, run in circles, and tap her feet incessantly. Her eyes darted so much that she couldn't focus or learn to read." Now, with the help of the Daytrana skin patch, Jadyn is reading above grade level, and she's made friends with many kids in her class. "Parents shouldn't worry about ADHD medications turning their kids into zombies," says Melinda, of New City, New York. "Jadyn is still a high-energy kid. She's simply better able to direct her energy in positive ways that make her a delight to be around."
Andrew Owens, age 7
Treatment: Combined therapy
Andrew wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until age 6, but his mother, Shelby, started using behavior-modification techniques with him when he was 3. That's because he was acting a lot like his older sister, Macey, who'd already been diagnosed with the condition. Shelby created sticker charts and began giving him small rewards to encourage him to follow through on tasks like getting ready for bed without too much fuss. She took away privileges like going to the library when he didn't listen or if he threw things when he became upset. "Even if it turned out that ADHD wasn't the cause of Andrew's uncontrollable energy, I thought these techniques would help improve his behavior," says Shelby, of Longwood, Florida. Like his sister, he now takes ADHD medication, but the Owens family continues to use behavioral methods. "We've found that our positive reinforcement gives him the little extra push he needs to try his best," Shelby says.
Will Kirby, age 11
Treatment: Physical activity
Will is always on the move, and that's exactly how his mom, Stacia, likes it. "I make sure he does something physically active every day to burn off his excess energy," she says. Will's symptoms improved with medication after he was diagnosed at age 9, but he was extremely sensitive to the side effects. "One medication made him throw up for a week, and another sent him into a deep funk every evening," says Stacia, of Seattle. Will eventually begged his parents to let him stop the drugs. Now, instead of swallowing pills, Will plays lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. Even gardening has become part of his therapy. So far, he's doing well in school. "He isn't disruptive in class, and he has lots of friends," says Stacia. "As long as Will's busy, he seems to do just fine."
Originally published in the November 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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