Q: My child has been on Ritalin for ADHD for two years and is doing much better. When can he stop taking the medication?
A: Unfortunately there isn't a magic moment when a child is ready to stop his ADHD meds; it's usually a process of trial and error. Many doctors recommend giving your child a "drug holiday" periodically (usually around once a year) to be sure that the medication is still needed and to give your kid a break from any side effects, like trouble sleeping or lack of appetite. The best time to experiment with taking your child off his meds is just after the beginning of the school year, once he's adjusted to a new classroom and teachers. You may find that your child can control his ADHD on his own, or you may realize that he still needs his meds to function productively in school. It usually takes around a month for a child to adjust to being off the meds and for parents and teachers to see if he can sit for school lessons, socialize well with other kids, focus on homework assignments, and complete projects on his own. Your child also stands a better chance of not needing medication if he's in a small class with a patient teacher.