Sanctum Healthcare • Jan 15 •
Will ADHD medication change my child’s personality?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears in early childhood. It affects around 1.8 million adults in the UK today, but it is thought that these numbers could potentially be much higher due to ADHD often being undiagnosed.
There are 3 subtypes of ADHD: the first being hyperactivity and impulsivity, affecting a person’s behaviour and control of physical movements. The second is inattentiveness, which affects a person’s ability to concentrate and sustain attention and the third is combined, which is as it sounds, a combination of both subtypes.
Understandably, many people with diagnosed ADHD are worried about how their personality will be affected if they try to manage their symptoms with medication and the good news is, that if the dosage is correct, ADHD medication should not affect your personality or sense of humour.
How ADHD in children can present itself
It can be difficult to spot the signs of ADHD in children and differentiate them from the usual personality traits of a child with an underdeveloped, emotional brain. Difficulty with regulating emotions, controlling their impulses, and listening when needed is what we would class as normal child behaviours and probably no need to worry, however, if your child shows several symptoms across several situations – at home, school and play – then it may be time to take a closer look.
The below signs of ADHD in children usually present themselves before the age of 6 and will occur in more than one situation. Children can show several symptoms simultaneously or they may present just one. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main symptoms in each subtype below.
Main symptoms of Inattentiveness in children:
- Needing to constantly change activity or task
- Making regular mistakes at school, being forgetful and losing things often.
- Easily distracted and having a short attention span.
- Difficulty listening to instructions and carrying them out
- Unable to stick to a task if it’s too time-consuming.
Main symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness:
- Unable to sit still, constant physical movement and fidgeting.
- Difficulty remaining calm and quiet when needed.
- Seeming to act without thinking, interrupting conversations and unable to wait their turn.
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks and talking excessively.
· Having little or no sense of danger.
It can be a struggle to be a parent of a child with ADHD, causing constant worry about their child making friends and bonding with others, possibly causing underachievement at school, and hindering their ability to progress in social and educational settings but ADHD in children needn’t be a negative label to carry. ADHD can very much be a superpower. Adults and children with ADHD possess the sought-after traits of hyper-focus, endless enthusiasm, and energy to go after the goals and opportunities that will make them happy. However, there are steps you can take medically to help your child whilst they are still navigating themselves and their ADHD, these need to be carefully considered and this is where a conversation with a specialist ADHD clinic can help in pointing you in the right direction.
Is ADHD medication right for your child?
Your child is unique, and you love them and their personality traits no matter what, however, there is an important difference between behaviour and personality and understanding this difference is paramount.
Your child may have developed some coping techniques to help socially and in school, these may look like becoming rigid with schedules to help them with time management and focus, or they may be less talkative or confident in social settings if they have had bad experiences socially in the past. They may also appear uncaring or quick to engage in risky behaviour. Although these coping mechanisms are an amazing attempt of your child trying to “fit in” with their peers, finding the right medication to help your child further could be a very beneficial step to take.
ADHD medication, at the right dose, can have many positive effects on your child’s behaviour, including better focus, planning and follow-through with tasks, less impulsivity and hyperactivity and they may report better experiences in school or socially. This could help to boost their self-esteem and confidence and aid their ability to lead a healthier and happy life.
What are the possible side effects of ADHD medication?
So, we’ve been through the positives of medication, and how they can help with ADHD in children but, as with most arguments, there are also possible side affects that need to be addressed. ADHD medication should never take away from your child’s liveliness and joy and their ability to be a child and as each child is unique, each child’s experience of ADHD and ADHD medication will also be unique.
It can take time to find the right medication and the right dosage for your child, commonly known as a process called Titration. If their dosage is too high, it can have a kind of hyper-focus like, “zombie effect”, where they appear dazed. Other possible side affects can include behaving more excitedly than normal or becoming withdrawn, becoming more inflexible socially or develop obsessive-compulsive behaviours. These are all symptoms of medication not suiting your child or the dosage being too high, therefore your child’s treatment plan should be tailored to them and closely monitored by their doctor.
Some children can also experience something called “stimulant rebound” where the effects of their ADHD medication wears off before the next dose is taken. This can take the form of moodiness, tiredness or hyperactivity and usually means that their doctor will want to change your child’s dose or schedule or even switch them to a longer-acting version of their medication.
A summary of medication for ADHD in children and whether medication is right for you
Medication for ADHD is not a cure and should not be sought after for this reason. No medication will take away all the symptoms all the time but what it will do is help your child to manage their symptoms and behaviour. When your child’s medication is working well, they could still appear forgetful at times and struggle emotionally and socially, so it is beneficial to seek behavioural therapy alongside medication as part of a total plan. You can also help your child at home when it comes to schoolwork by helping to remove distractions where possible and encouraging them to eat and sleep well and take part in physical activities.
So, the right medication and the right dosage can be hugely beneficial to your child and should not affect their personality and sense of humour if monitored closely. It can curb hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity and along with other forms of therapy and help at home, can really help toward leading a happier and healthier life.
How can speaking with a specialist ADHD clinic help with ADHD in children?
It can be difficult navigating ADHD in your child, however, with the correct treatment plan and possibly medication, day-to-day life can seem much easier and far less stressful for you and your child.
If you think your child may have ADHD or you have already had a diagnosis, Sanctum is here to help. We offer comprehensive, personalised, and precise assessments and diagnoses from a multi-professional diagnostic team that all have specialist experience in assessing and supporting individuals with ADHD.
If you would like to speak to Sanctum’s friendly team about obtaining an ADHD assessment or about ADHD treatment plans, you can get in touch here.
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