In the past, less was known about the long-term effects of ADHD medication. At that time, it was believed that taking a “vacation” from medication when children were not in school would provide the opportunity to catch up on weight gain and growth. In addition, ADHD was also thought of as a “school day” disorder. The impact of ADHD on other parts of a child’s life, such as social skills and family life had not been considered. For this reason, breaks from medication seemed logical.
What We Know Today
Today, research has shown that growth and weight, although considered to be slower while taking medication, is impacted very little over the long-term. Most children will “catch up” to normal growth over time. In addition, more is known about ADHD. It is no longer thought to only create difficulties in school. Children can struggle with relating to friends or have a hard time making friends. They may be emotionally immature and their hyperactivity and impulsiveness may cause them to get in trouble more often at home.
These considerations have led many doctors to believe that a “vacation” from medication during the summer months is not necessary and may actually be detrimental to children. Dr. Larry Silver, in an article entitled “Time to Give Your Child a Medicine Break?” which appeared on Additude Magazines website, asks parents to think about the following question: “Will hyperactivity, distractibility or impulsivity interfere with your child’s success in summer camp or other vacation activities?” He encourages parents to “think of each part of the summer” before making any decisions about medication.
- Are you planning a summer vacation with your family? Will this involve a long car ride in which your child will be required to sit for long periods in the car?
- Are your child’s social skills negatively impacted without medication? Will playing with friends or getting along with siblings be more difficult?
- Will your child be attending a summer camp or structured summer activities? Would they be more successful at these activities with the help of medication?