ADHD: Prescription Drugs or Not?!


I’ve been listening to so many stories from friends, acquaintances, and strangers that have experienced their child’s school teacher/psychologist/administrators either hint at or outright suggest their child be put on prescribed meds for their ADHD/autistic behaviors. I personally have felt the constant pressure that I should do more for my kids and the “he just doesn’t focus and that is his main problem” statements during IEP meetings or parent/teacher conferences.

Over the years I have presented my natural approach to my sons’ school and have also received tremendous support. But it seems lately with the school budget cuts, and teachers/staff stress over increased classroom sizes that the “quick fix” of ADHD drugs seems to be the popular method of controlling the kids in the classroom. I have always said that the decision to put any child on prescription medications is a personal family choice. One that should not be made without careful consideration as to the ramifications, side affects, and health and well being of the child. This is not something that others should put upon parents whether guilting them into it, or painting a scenario that “he just isn’t working at his full potential”.

One approach that helps kids with ADHD and autism (all kids for that matter) is physical exercise EVERY day. Good, aerobic, physical activity. School budget cuts have forced schools to eliminate regular P.E. classes at the elementary school level, and team sports in middle school at a time when children and adolescents need daily physical activity to help them grow and learn. Thanks to the advances in technology, kids now have more electronic devices to occupy their free time instead of going outside to run, bike, skateboard, and play. Parents seem to be at a loss for what to do for their child and prescription meds are a seemingly sensible solution.

What prompted me to write about this is an article I read today about how low-income kids are being prescribed ADHD meds to boost academic performance. I know this sound like an outrage and “how can anyone do that?!” To me it’s really no different than kids given this for ADHD or autism. Unless a family has fully tried all methods of helping their child with natural approaches like a healthy, organic diet, addressing food allergies, supplements, getting the right amount of sleep and enough daily exercise, just to name a few, then perhaps researching how prescription meds can help the child is in order. More often than not, the natural approach is not taken. Most of the time I see this because the parents don’t even know they had other options available to them besides prescription drugs. Thanks to their doctor and the pharmaceutical industry capitalizing on today’s fast-paced, quick fix mindset of overworked, overextended, stressed out families, prescription medication for ADHD is the go to solution.

The goal of my blog is to help educate parents that turn to their computer’s search engine for answers or ways to help their child. The results I’ve seen in helping my own children merits sharing and the extensive research I’ve done can help others to know that there are alternatives to prescription drugs for their child. I am humbled each and every day by the comments of parents and individuals that I’ve helped through this blog. Please spread the word. Biomedical approach works, heals, and offers a lifetime of health!

21 Responses

  1. Joanne — an excellent post. I completely agree. Thanks for adding your voice and helping other parents know that there are other alternatives besides (or sometimes, in addition to) prescription drugs. The importance of daily exercise is also a great reminder.

  2. I saw this same article and was dismayed as well.

    My then 6 year old was thought to have ADHD, but some doctor’s disputed this. The school was pressuring and helping not one bit. I homeschooled for a year. It took research, patience and much change, but we’ve solved his problems with a natural approach. We are now gluten free/paleo. This helped a lot, but it wasn’t the complete fix. He has a confirmed gluten intolerance (IgG) and had low neurotransmitters of the calming variety (nautropath). After one month of adding enzymes, magnesium, b vitamins and GABA, all neurotransmitters wer normal and we had a new child. He’s healing now. After a year of homeschooling, he went back, age 8. The teacher is wondering what the problem was, because he sees nothing abnormal.

    Your site was SO helpful with information and helped point us in the right direction. Thank you for putting this all out on a blog.

    • Karen,

      It’s so exciting to learn about your success story! Great job on helping your son and doing all you can to help him. I’m so glad my blog was helpful for your family. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. I agree fully with your approach as it is one I have adopted for my son with ADHD and sensory integration disorder. It has been a very long and hard road to have his care plan be all natural in approach. But he has made enormous improvements and everyone in the family has benefitted from the changes of healthier diets, supplements (especially digestive enzymes), detoxing, more exercise outdoors, adequate sleep, and the mindfulness of the need for balance with work and play. I stumbled upon your blog, read it regularly and recommend it to those I know can benefit! Please continue to provide such valuable insight and information in this area!

    • Thank you Elizabeth. I’m so glad my blog is helpful to others and I’m humbled by some of the comments made from parents that thank me. Good for you and your son, in doing what it takes to help him. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I saw your response (know it was from awhile ago) but am eager to know how your son is doing and what has truly helped. Our almost 5 yr old son has classic ADHD and also sensory integration disorder. We have tried numerous various things and I’m still having to tweak stuff to figure out what is best for him. Would seriously love your input. THanks, Kimberly

  4. Hi I am 18 and have moderate autism. I am actually a junior in college though. I’m dual majoring in Microbiology and neurobiology. How can I do this on a budget. Being a college student I have almost no money. I am on a gluten free diet, I also have addison’s disease. My adrenal glands basically don’t work. I have selective mutism and get sensory overload in class with people making noises and tapping. People think I’m weird. Any suggestions, I’m on probiotics, zoloft, Focalin XR, B-12 shots (did you know synthetic B-12 is fermented from bacteria?), calcium, magnesium, zinc, melatonin, and a multivitamin. I also notice while you do know what you are talking about, your site does contain a lot of grammatical errors. I can help you correct them to make your website more credible. Also did any of your sons have bedwetting issues? I actually still do and nothing seems to help

    • Hi. You seem to be on a lot of supplements that are needed, but what do you mean how to do this on a budget? Are you already managing these costs? Also, what are you doing to treat your Addison’s disease? Yes, my son with autism experienced bedwetting. Bedwetting may be attributed to lack of B12, but you said you’re getting shots. I also believe when my son’s bad bacteria flares in his gut, his bathroom accidents happen. I’d try GABA for the sensory overload, but that also was triggered by bad bacteria in my son’s gut. Have you treated your gut other than probiotics? Read more on my blog about it. You seem to be tackling a lot in college, perhaps that may contribute to sensory overload…stress from your dual major. Get yourself a release, outlet of stress. Exercise is important and also a hobby.

  5. I have read your blog extensively trust me it is what we autistics do since my obsession is biology. I haven’t eliminated casein yet. The diet is the most difficult thing to do on a college budget, the dining hall staff is not very knowledgeable about food allergies so I make sandwiches in my room and as you know gluten free bread is oh so expensive. I am trying to get more information on nutritional information for the dining halls but it is a painstaking process. I am a cross-country runner. For addison’s disease I am on hydrocortisone (prednisone) 40mg twice daily and aldosterone .1mg once a day (Florinef). I think I may not be absorbing the steroids as well since I may have impaired gut absorption. I will ask my doctor about switching to steroid injections to make sure they are being absorbed since I crash in the middle of the day at times. For my gut, I am only on probiotics at this time. I also notice I get a lot of tics and have panic attacks while on the Focalin. I have tried weaning myself off the medicine, but my grades always drop when I do. I have been on various ADHD meds for 11 years and I have been on Focalin for 5 of those years. My doctor said I have nerve damage from prolonged pernicious anemia, so that may be the root of bedwetting. I was diagnosed with autism at age 3, but my parents didn’t tell me until I was 16. It would have been much better If I had known earlier, but oh well. I have also been working at an autistic school in the summer for 2 years. I help the teachers understand why the children behave the way they do. I even remodeled the whole school to make the environment more calming. I am a guest speaker in Houston(where I am from, but not where I go to college). My parents are not very supportive of my autism advocacy, and seem to be ashamed I am autistic. I was accepted into college when I was 16. I didn’t like how people treated me in him school so I graduated early. I am taking 19 hours at the moment, but that was a big mistake which I will not repeat. I have autistic superpowers, but every superhero has a weakness.

    • You are a brave, intelligent and persistent young person…I admire you. It’s good to know your limits, so not taking such an intense course load will help. You probably need to work on healing your gut. I know supplements are expensive, as are the diets. A great gut healer in my house was the Colostrum, and Gastro Support by Kirkman Labs. We also treated bad bacteria with Biocidin:

      I admire what you do for autism advocacy. Would you like to write a post for my blog about what’s it’s like to be a young adult with autism? Not too long of a post, but something to give parents insight and what to expect as their children age. Let me know your thoughts…and don’t say yes if you don’t have the time. 🙂

  6. I would love to!!! I am honored to have been asked. The term ends December 10 and from then on I have a month off. I will have plenty of time then. Please send me more info on writing a post. 🙂

  7. Also what laundry soap do you use? I know I can scatterbrained, but anyways. A lot of laundry soaps contain casein and pollutants such as phosphate. Keep in mind it is important to be environmentally conscious as a polluted environment will probably correlate to more cases of autism. It may seem insignificant what one person could do but I recently read a satire article with the title; “What difference does recycling one plastic bottle; 1,000,000 Americans wonder” I use homemade laundry detergent. It costs me about three cents to do a load

  8. The term ends dec 10 for me. From then on, I have a month off. I can write a post then. I will have plenty of time. That subject is very important to me as a lot of focus is put on young children with autism and not enough on adolescents and adults with autism. I do not want other parents to make the mistakes my parents did during that time frame.

  9. My son’s teacher told me to have him checked for adhd. He does misbehave a lot I just don’t want to medicate him. He is only 6. Is there anything else that it could be. I’m going to try behavioral counseling.

    • Yes, Rachel there are a lot of ways to help your son. On the right side of my blog are “Categories”. Click on ADHD and all the posts I’ve written over the years on what has helped my son will come up. Read through them and let me know if you have any questions. Best wishes!

  10. Joanne,

    First of thank you for sharing this wealth of information. I am sure that I will be back as I am very eager to read more of this great blog!

    I have a question for you that may or may not be out of place, but I not finding anyone discussing the situation my daughter is in.

    I have a 12 year old daughter who is adhd and odd. I and ex-husband believe there is a genetic component as well. We have been medicating her for several years (grrr – very difficult decision) and at times started to remove the meds with very scary results in terms of aggression, depression, etc. I started using the Nurtured Heart Approach last Fall and found the Feingold program which we’ve been on for over a month. Both programs are producing favorable results . .. big yea! BUT my question to you is have you heard anything or have any thoughts on supplements and meds? I was thinking as she moves in a positive direction, I would talk with the doctor about layering the meds back, but with some of these supplements ( I was looking at the Brainchild Nutritionals ADHD kits) they have some pretty high doses and I am wondering what your thoughts are about adding these to meds.

    Thank you in advance for any thoughts you’re willing to share. I welcome anything, I just want her at a better place.

    Gratefully, Elizabeth

    • I’m sorry for the late reply. It’s always best to consult with your doctor on adding in supplements along with prescription meds. Some vitamins/minerals can interfere with absorption/effectiveness of meds. For example, vitamin C interferes with Adderall. And research on your own about the meds and any vitamins you want to add. That’s how I learned so much…the internet is loaded with info! Best wishes.

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