At what point should children with ADHD be put on medication?
There are some children who truly benefit from ADHD medication, Graf said. The conversation about beginning ADHD medication begins when a child’s symptoms interfere with his or her ability to function in everyday life, Graf said.
For instance, a child’s behavior may interfere with his learning to the extent that he won’t advance to the next grade if action isn’t taken. If a child’s behavior is determined to be a result of ADHD and not some other cause, a low dose of ADHD medication can be prescribed for a trial period (such as a one-month period), Graf said.
Once a child starts medication, does he or she need to continue them?
A child should be re-evaluated shortly after starting ADHD medication. The medication should only be continued if there is clear proof that the child benefits from it, and that the benefits outweigh the side effects, Graf said.
Do children with less severe ADHD need medication?
No, in general, children with mild ADHD often do not need medication, Graf said. (Although he noted this may not be true in every case.)
“Contrary to some popular wisdom, behavioral treatments, alone or in combination with low doses of medication, can be effective in the long-term reduction of core ADHD symptoms, Graf said.
Duchowny said the decision of whether to prescribe medication should be made on an individual basis. Changes such as placing the child in a smaller class, or getting the child a tutor may be ways to improve the child’s behavior, but are not always feasible, Duchowny said.