Adjusting my daughter’s ADHD meds – at her request

In June of 2015 we started our daughter Lexie on medication for ADHD. At the time, we weren’t even sure she had a problem. Her teacher had shown concern that she couldn’t sit still in class and was having trouble concentrating. The test from her pediatrician had proved inconclusive but she suggested trying medication to see if it would help – and it would give us the answer to the question whether Lexie had ADHD or not.

Jumping to medication may seem like a jump when you don’t have a definite diagnosis but no amount of redirection seemed to help Lexie. We worried about the side effects of the medication and that we would be creating some kind of zombie who shuffled through the day. But we also didn’t want her to continue struggle in school.

adderall-xr-10-mgWe started her on the lowest dose possible but saw little in the way of change. But the next highest dose seemed just about right but we waited until she started the school year to finalize the amount of medication she took. We wanted to see how she did in a school setting verses just being at home in the summer. At our first parent-teacher conference, her teacher said she was doing great. Lexie’s reading had already jumped several levels and she seemed to have no problem paying attention.

Everything progressed well through the school year. The dose seemed the right amount to give Lexie the focus she needed without diminishing her bubbly nature.

Then she started third grade. From the beginning, she began complaining about not being able to focus. She would tell us when her teacher had to redirect her or when she would get in trouble. Comments from the teacher came home echoing the same thing – Lexie wasn’t paying attention in class.

Lexie has never been a fan of taking the medication. She doesn’t like that it sometimes makes her not hungry. She worries that she isn’t her same fun self on the meds. But she also finally has realized the benefits. She too knew that last school year she had less problems.

drugitem_5271When I asked her if she thought the medication wasn’t working properly, she said yes. We talked about how much she has grown in the past year and how medications must change as you get bigger. She suggested that might mean she needed a higher dose. She then thought about it for awhile and even talked about it with her teacher who of course wouldn’t tell her what to do but did ask her questions to help her fully explore her options.

When we went to see the pediatrician, my eight-year-old calmly explained to her rationale for going to a higher dose. The doctor agreed it was a good thing to try so we went up one more level in her medication.

And so far it has been helping. Both Lexie and her teacher say she is more focused in class. So barring a drastic change in her weight at her one-month follow up appointment, it looks like Lexie was correct in asking for an increase in her medication.

Changing my daughter’s ADHD medicine due to insurance

Last June, my daughter began taking a generic version of Focalin to help her focus in school after she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By July, we had increased the strength. We thought her behavior was much improved. Even the doctor noticed a difference at a follow-up appointment. We decided to wait for school to start to see if it was the correct dosage to help her with her classroom learning.

When we met with Lexie’s teacher for a parent-teacher conference in November, we learned that she was doing great in school and that even her reading scores had risen from last year. Her teacher said her dosage was perfect.

That was all well and fine until we received a letter that the Lexie’s medical insurance plan was being discontinued, and we would need to select a new one. When we looked at the plans out there, we were left with two choices – either select an insurance that had her pediatrician on the plan and NOT her specialists (ophthalmologist and allergist) or pick one that had the specialists but would cause us to lose the doctor she has had since birth.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that Lexie has had a variety of medical issues (situs inverses, eczema, allergies, polysplenia). Things have been going well, and I was eager to keep the pediatricians we knew and who knew her.

capsuleBefore choosing our new health insurance, I made sure Lexie’s meds were on their approved list. She takes two antihistamines as well as the ADHD medication. I checked, and they were on the list. Yeah!

January hit and when I went to fill Lexie’s ADHD medication, the pharmacy said that the insurance wouldn’t cover that drug. They wanted her switched to Adderall.

It seems I had missed something very important when looking up coverage of her drug. Her medication had an “ER” at the end of it. That is for Extended Release.

Her new insurance would cover the generic Focalin but not the Extended Release version. They requested we switch her to Adderall Extended Release. Her pediatrician petitioned them to allow her to stay on the Focalin, but the insurance denied the request. While waiting for the decision, we had no choice but to put her on Adderall.

I warned her teacher about the change, so she could watch for any side effects and to let us know if the medicine wasn’t working as well as the previous one. Her awesome teacher sent me an email every day for the first couple of days. She noticed no side effects, and it seemed to be working fine.

That is good news and bad news. Good that she is responding to the new medicine but bad that we will no longer go back to the medication her doctor prefers. I guess all that really matters is that the medicine is working, and Lexie is able to focus during school.