Do you want to give your child a summer break from their ADHD medication, but you are concerned about their attention, behavior, and executive functioning? I have parents contact me on a weekly basis about this dilemma, so you are not alone. You want to ensure that your child excels in school, but you are also concerned about the possible ramifications of having your child on continuous ADHD medication.
Many of us realize that keeping children medicated can affect restful sleep patterns, nutrition, and growth. However, we are also concerned about making sure that our children do not fall behind with academics, falter with executive function, or engage in impulsive behavior. These are all legitimate concerns, and summer is an ideal time to assist your child with developing ADHD management skills without being medicated. Of course, it takes some additional effort on everyone’s behalf to ensure that our children receive the appropriate supports in lieu of taking medication. It is encouraging to know the positive replacement habits that can be implemented and utilized throughout the summer, can also be carried out throughout the school year, whereby they become second nature for both the child, and the entire family system.
There are a plethora of replacement and adjusted behaviors that can be implemented, but for this post, we will highlight the top items to consider. First, please ensure that your child is active and moving. Today’s youth have become incredibly sedentary, remaining indoors for days on end with gaming, social media, and virtual communication. It is absolutely essential that our children limit their screen time, interface with family and friends face to face, and that they engage in outdoor physical activity. Moreover, our youth need to consume a well-balanced diet, minimizing the intake of processed and sugary food and beverages. In addition to partaking in proper exercise and nutrition, is the importance of adequate rest. A majority of today’s youth are sleep-deprived, and devoid of undistracted, restful sleep. Please do not permit your child to take their cell phones or tablets to bed with them, as they are major contributors to poor performance in school, unsavory attitudes, and overall compromised health.
Finally, please consider alternative and reputable sources of ADHD management during the summer months, all of which can be continued throughout the school year. For example, Cogmed is a highly-effective brain training program designed to meet the needs of children, adolescents, and adults, without the use of medication. Each Cogmed participant is matched with their personal certified coach, who will guide, motivate, and track student progress. In addition to receiving personalized coaching, detailed quantitative data is utilized to identify optimum performance with attention, behavior, and overall capacity to learn.
In addition to Cogmed, there are the Scientific Learning brain training and literacy programs that promote working memory, executive function, phonetic awareness, and language awareness. This family of products includes the scientifically proven Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant Plus programs, whereby participants have made one to two grade level gains in reading in just one summer, in addition to improving memory, processing, and attention. Utilized worldwide, and in many school districts nationwide, this neuroscience-based program delivers measurable results when used with efficacy.
Truly, there are so many options to consider other than medication over the summer months, so we welcome your feedback and questions to assist other families in taking a break from ADHD meds over the holiday break.
Carolyne St. Clair, Ed.D.
Founder & Clinical Director