End of the school year brings a common question from parents:
“Does my child need to take ADHD medications since he/she is out of school?”
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no!
While the school year does take summer vacation, ADHD does not.
• ADHD symptoms are not limited to the inability to pay attention and perform well on school tasks. Other symptoms include impulsivity, difficulty controlling emotions, disorganization, difficulty falling and staying asleep, and difficulty with functioning well without a structured routine.
• For teenagers who are driving or caring for others as part of a summer job (lifeguard, babysitter, camp counselor, etc.) I strongly recommend continuing ADHD medications over the summer, as inattention and impulsivity may result in serious injury to themselves or others.
• Many ADHD symptoms also may make summer family life and vacations more difficult and stressful for an ADHD child and their family.
• A child’s social skills off medications can be 2-3 years younger than actual age, possibly making positive interactions with their peers at summer camp more difficult.
There is a very small group of ADHD patients that a summer medication vacation or decrease in medication dose may be medically needed:
• Those who have significant weight loss issues on medication.
• If there are questions as to whether medication is needed, summer time is a good time for a short trial off medication.
I encourage families to have a discussion with their child’s ADHD physician each spring about your summer plans. A plan for summer time ADHD management can be customized for your child, with the goal of the most enjoyable and safe summer possible!
– Dr. Emily Thompson