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How to medicate a child who has ADD

Dear Annie: My 7-year-old son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder last year. Before then, my husband and I thought for a while that he just had "a lot of energy" and had trouble grasping some things in school, like all kids at some point or another. But he started falling behind significantly, to the point where classmates were calling him stupid. (Don't even get me started on those kids.) My poor son's self-esteem just plummeted, and he began getting easily frustrated with his work.

Since the diagnosis, we've tried putting him on a low dosage of medication. It's made a world of difference.

He is not only following along in school but also able to hold an actual conversation with us and his peers and stay on task.

Previously, when I would ask him to brush his teeth before bed, on his way to the bathroom, he'd find a new Lego to unpack and then go to the kitchen pantry to see about a snack.

The problem is that my husband also has ADD, and after a few months of this success, he just told me he no longer wants our son to take the medication.

He feels that our son is too "robotic," and he doesn't want to "drug him up." I don't blame him for his reservations; he spent a few years as a teenager trying different medications, and virtually every one produced difficult side effects. He has lived his life without medication. (Don't get me started on that, either.) I feel that staying on this track is the best for our son and that my husband is projecting his experience on our son.

Do you see a compromise here? Or is this a no-brainer? -- Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned: No way is this a no-brainer. Decisions involving children and medication are often complicated and always require careful consideration.

Every case is different, and I can't say for sure what the best choice for your son is. I would recommend that you go to a licensed therapist whom you and your husband agree on and seek his or her professional opinion on the matter.

Dear Annie: Your advice to "Tired and Exhausted" -- whose son is struggling with addiction -- was good but incomplete.

As a parent of two people who were addicts for a very long time (both are sober now), I'd like to recommend Learn to Cope. This is a wonderful support group started by Joanne Peterson in 2004, and it has over 7,000 members. Though it is based in Massachusetts, the organization holds meetings in several locations, and its website alone is a wealth of information. (Check it out at http://www.learn2cope.org.) Anyone who joins (it's free) can post questions and receive great peer support. "Tired and Exhausted" could also call 508-738-5148 to speak to a member of the Learn to Cope staff. -- Mom Who's Been There

Dear Mom: Thank you for sharing. I had not heard of this organization, but I've made a note of it for future reference.

And in case Learn to Cope doesn't have a meeting in your area, I'd again like to mention Nar-Anon Family Groups.

It is a terrific organization offering support for anyone who loves someone who suffers from addiction.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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