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If your DC takes ritalin/strattera etc, does their personality change or are they just calm down?

(23 Posts)
sickofsocalledexperts Sat 20-Jun-09 15:13:25

My boy is autistic but also borderline hyperactive - he does not have an ADHD diagnosis but he NEVER ever stops moving, bouncing, rocking, flapping, swinging etc etc. I am starting to wonder if he could not achieve a lot more if he could just concentrate for longer periods of time, and stop his urgent need to MOVE! But I would be keen to know from people whose kids have taken stattera or concerta or ritalin - is you child still the same child when on these medications, just calmer? I have a horror of taking his little "himness" away and him becoming zombified, or is it just not like that? Any help most welcome.

cyberseraphim Sat 20-Jun-09 16:10:10

Snap - I am thinking the same way but like you don't know whether to do it or not. Everyone agrees his hyperactivity conceals what he can do if he ever concentrates. There was a story in BBC Health about Ritalin - Did you see it ?

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 20-Jun-09 17:03:37

I will look it up Cyber. I just wish I could find a drug that is mild enough to keep his quirky little ways, but just stop his never-ending movement so that he can sit still for 20 mins in class and learn, rather than get distracted by jiggling up and down on the chair!

mrz Sat 20-Jun-09 17:21:32

My son took Ritalin but decided he wanted to stop after a year because he felt he was losing himself.

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 20-Jun-09 17:33:57

did you find him to be very different when he was on it Mrz?

mrz Sat 20-Jun-09 18:20:40

He was able to concentrate in class without fidgeting when he was taking Ritalin. His psychiatrist prescribed the tablets for before school and lunchtime so the effect had worn off by the time he got home. Looking back he was "easier" to be around at weekends but I have to agree with him he was not really the same person. He said he felt the drugs controlled him and he didn't like it.
Can I suggest

daisy5678 Sat 20-Jun-09 22:15:46

J is so totally the same person, but a little calmer (he is on Straterra, which has less zombiefying potential as it is from a different family from Ritalin, works in a totally different 24-7 way and the dosage is controlled differently). He says he doesn't feel much different when he is on it but there was a massive difference when it had kicked in (a few weeks into taking it) - he was much less hyper and impulsive, but still the cheeky, funny, affectionate (violent, stroppy) boy. He was himself with less of the ADHD bits! Tis complicated in his case by the autism, but Straterra was a godsend, tbh.

magso Sun 21-Jun-09 08:05:03

Ds (9) has autism LD and ADHD and is a chearful quirky child. Medication reduces the extreme flitting and reduces the impulsiveness which makes it so hard to protect and care for him. On medication he can concentrate for a couple of minutes - rather than seconds. So medication does not take away his quirkyness and certainly does not zombify him! It does reduce some of the apparently aimless flitting ( it is really supercharged impulsiveness)so he is more able to communicate and connect on medication. Oddly he is better physically coordinated too which is better for him!

magso Sun 21-Jun-09 08:18:18

Forgot to say Ds is on a low dose (concerta) and the difference is very subtle and like givemesleeps J he remains funny and affectionate! I dont know how to put this but in some ways it enhanses his lovely side perhaps because his thoughts are better ordered and his ADHD gets less in the way of expressing his personality!

daisysue2 Sun 21-Jun-09 08:30:30

My dd (9) was on it for a few years. It helped her concentration but made her quite emotional when she was coming down from the drug when I picked her up at 3.30 after school. It also made some of her behavior much more Autistic, she collected more and was less sociable which is quite normal but you may not be told about some of these things. We decided to give her a rest and she is much happier and easier to be around. Is she better in class well not sure about that. The teacher seems to think she is fine off it, a little less able to concentrate but they have now put other stratagies in place to deal with her. She does have OT during the day to calm her down.

I visited an SN school recently and they said that they have OT breaks half way through each lesson to help the children concentrate and deal with their sensory needs.

My advice would be to try and see. Quite a few people I know have their children on it for a while and they take them off again for various reasons. Have a look at the Adders forum they are very pro it though and their expert Dr Billy is evangelical about it.

daisy5678 Sun 21-Jun-09 11:25:29

Be aware that anything you post on adders that is remotely controversial will be removed! They have a very very strict censorship policy and you aren't even allowed to post links! Plus Dr Billy is somewhat erm forthright in his opinions and sees unmedicated children as akin to child abuse shock

daisy5678 Sun 21-Jun-09 11:26:47

Having said that, people who post on there are very knowledgable about meds and there are some useful info sheets.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 21-Jun-09 18:08:39

thank you so much for your posts - it sounds like maybe strattera and concerta have proved better than ritalin, but I realise every child will respond differently. What givemesleep and magso describe is just what I want for my DS - still quirky but calmer. I think I should give it a try.

mrz Sun 21-Jun-09 18:20:33

Has anyone discussed the side effects and risks associated with these drugs?

daisy5678 Sun 21-Jun-09 18:50:18

There are a lot of side-affects. J lost loads of weight on the Equasym, though not so much on Straterra. Lots and lots of risks, it's true.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 21-Jun-09 19:08:43

what side effects did you notice Mrz? I know that basically these drugs speed the kids up (which is ood, as that actually calms them down?) so I guess that explains the weight loss?

elvislives Sun 21-Jun-09 19:11:10

My DS has been on meds for 12 years. He is the same person on meds but just calmer. I don't even think calmer explains it, because "calm" isn't a word anyone would use to decribe him. grin

We are well aware of the side effects. What the anti med brigade don't ever consider is the side effects of not taking them... my DS, aged 12, threatened suicide when a growth spurt meant his weren't strong enough I would rather take a chance on a possible side effect than not have him.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 21-Jun-09 19:18:39

what meds did you find best elvislives?

daisy5678 Sun 21-Jun-09 19:27:14

Totally, Elvislives. I only agreed to the meds trial because J was likely to A) get permanently excluded from school and B) kill or seriously injure himself or someone else without something drastic sad.

It has been a life-changer, just not to the extent that I'd hoped.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 21-Jun-09 19:29:59

I am reading online that strattera is the non-stimulant version of the drug, whereas ritalin speeds up (therefore can have sleep and weight-loss problems). I am wondering if I should ask doctor to start DS on the tiniest of doses of strattera?

mrz Sun 21-Jun-09 20:00:22

My son's psychiatrist gave us a huge list of possible side effects for various drugs and in the end prescribed Ritalin. His height and weight were carefully monitored and we were asked to watch for "ticks" and mood swings

sorry I can't find the Ritalin site

elvislives Mon 22-Jun-09 21:55:09

He had ritalin, then concerta then strattera

PheasantPlucker Tue 23-Jun-09 09:14:47

dd1 started with ritalin, but it turned her into a 'zombie' and she didn't eat or drink.

Strattera had less of an effect on her personality, and did calm her down somewhat, and helped her concentration. However, she also ate and drank very little whilst on the drug, so - with medical advice - we stopped giving it to her.

But I know of another child where it helped immensely.

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