Do Kids Need a Summer Vacation from ADHD Medication?

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As families enter the summer season with camps, vacations and a break from the regular routine, parents may be wondering if they also should give their kids a break from their ADHD medication.

While parents might feel as if ADHD is more pronounced during the school as their child works to stay focused in class and during evening homework time, ADHD is a year-round disorder. That’s why parents should continue their child’s daily ADHD medication throughout the summer, just as they would during the school year.

Kids don’t need a break from improved self-control. They don’t need to trade the positive messages they hear when they’re attentive for the negative messages they hear when they aren’t focused.

The doctors at Focus-MD in Mount Pleasant routinely hear these common concerns from parents about maintaining a year-round medication schedule:

Medication safety: Stimulants have a great long-term safety record and there is no evidence that daily use is harmful.

Appetite impact: Unless your child’s growth is affected by a decrease in appetite, eating more is not a good thing. Remember most American kids are over-eating and one in three is overweight. Talk with your pediatrician and review a growth chart to be sure there is not a concern with weight gain and growth.

Getting off schedule: Sleeping in and taking a vacation make managing all chronic disorders from diabetes to cancer more complicated, but you can work with your doctor to keep the plan controlled. Consider this: If your teenager sleeps in later, isn’t she staying up later? The medication effective time is easily shifted to fit the schedule automatically.

Feeling guilty: Parents often say, “I should be able to handle my child.” Yes, you should. But you and your child shouldn’t have to handle uncontrolled ADHD symptoms any more than the family of a diabetic child should have to handle uncontrolled blood sugar. Parents are often concerned their child doesn’t have time be himself or simply “be a kid.” If it seems the medication is adversely affecting your child, talk to his or her doctor.

“We don’t want kids having personality changes, significant appetite issues or other medication side effects during the school year much less in the summer,” says Dr. Joanna Ghegan, MD, FAAP. “We want the medication to change the ADHD, not your child.”

At Focus-MD, Dr. Ghegan says their experience – supported by recent medical studies – is that year-round treatment of ADHD with the right dose of the right medication is helpful for almost all patients.

“After a year or two on medication parents are surprised to report, ‘He’s really grown up’ or ‘She’s really matured and become more independent,’” Dr. Ghegan says. “The reason for this is improved executive function from being attentive year-round.”

Talk to your child’s doctor before stopping medication this summer. Ask questions, express your concerns and then make an informed choice that fits for your child and family.

For more information about Focus-MD, visit Focus-MD.com or call (843) 593-9332.

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