Attention Deficit Disorder

I feel like my child is hyperactive. Does he need to be on medication?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: The popularity of the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) these days leads to me fielding lots of questions from parents regarding their children’s hyperactivity and whether they need to be medicated. Many parents, including me, deal with children that can be trying, due to normal hyperactive behavior or high intelligence, but those conditions do not need to be masked with medication.

Often it seems the parents are looking for a pharmaceutical babysitter, rather than a solution that is best for the child. Most of these children would benefit from behavioral therapy, helping them to match their personality and individual talents to society’s expectations. When does the need to medically modify the child’s behavior end? If you miss the opportunity, you may doom them to a life of medication dependence or dissatisfaction with their life and career choices. A better choice might be to help them learn to manage the unique challenges of being ADD.

John Owens, DO, is the father of four children. He is Chief of Family Medicine, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Director of Medical Education at Indian Health Service – Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Q&A by Wyatt Myers