View Full Version : If you gave a Typical child ADHD meds...


Tracy23
07-10-11, 01:33 PM
When my son was diagnosed ADHD the day after we started his meds I called the doctor in tears, that my son was playing, interacting appropriately, using his manners, having fun, and doing all the things typical children do and that I couldn't believe the difference. My first question was, "if you gave a typical child ADHD meds would it make them better behaved"? He responded it would not, it would have the opposite effect. I responded by asking, "so because it's working, that means he definitely has ADHD?" and he replied, "yes."

2 years later I am chatting with a fellow mom from the neighborhood and it turns out she is a phschologist at the same practice we had taken my son to about a year ago. From the conversation on ADHD, she gave me the impression she felt it's given out too frequently, and although absolutely needed in some cases felt it was too widely used. I then told her the story above about what my doctor said, and she responded that that was not true, that to some extent adhd meds would make typical children behave better, be calmer, stay more focused, etc.

Do you think ADHD meds given to a non-adhd child would help them focus better and be calmer, etc?

Your thoughts appreciated!

CrazyLazyGal
07-10-11, 02:01 PM
It depends on the child and how much you give them. Generally speaking, if you gave a non-ADHD child a dose that's intended for an ADHD child, it would not help them. Often, it would make them more wired. You would certainly not see the day-and-night change that your child showed, except in the opposite direction for some kids.

Not to mention, you'd be breaking the law!

mctavish23
07-10-11, 02:03 PM
I understand what you're trying to say and I get the context in which the

hypothetical question was phrased.

The only "real life" response I can give it would be that it would constitute

a Mandated Report for me professionally.

As to the impact, my subjective expectation would be far from "calm;" as

opposed to "wired."

tc

mctavish23

(Robert)

Tracy23
07-10-11, 02:31 PM
I just wanted to mention, I am not looking to give a non-adhd child adhd meds, my question was in the context of this Mom I was talking with gave me the impression that's it's possible my child doesn't have adhd, that the meds would make any child better.

Dizfriz
07-10-11, 02:59 PM
Reaction to medication is not diagnostic for ADHD especially if one does not see much change. This does not mean that the child is not ADHD and a positive reaction does not mean the child is.

The current protocol for diagnosing ADHD consists of:

1. ADHD specific survey, one for home and one for school.
2. Clinical observation of the child.
3. Diagnostic interview with the caregivers
4. Careful history of the child and the family.

Reaction to medication is not part of it. Having said that, a good reaction to medication with an ADHD kid is a wonderful thing however.

Dizfriz

CrazyLazyGal
07-10-11, 03:05 PM
I just wanted to mention, I am not looking to give a non-adhd child adhd meds, my question was in the context of this Mom I was talking with gave me the impression that's it's possible my child doesn't have adhd, that the meds would make any child better.ADHD diagnosis is defined by neuropsychological indicators, not reaction to medication.

If meds make him better, it supports the diagnosis. Conversely, if a child has gone through many medications and dosages without getting better, then that's reason to question the diagnosis. Neither is conclusive, but it does provide more information. The fact that some children diagnosed with ADHD don't respond to any medications is further evidence that medications don't help everyone, ADHD or not. That said, sometimes non-ADHD'ers do better when given ADHD medications. How they got permission to do that study is mind-boggling, but those are the results. I don't know what dosages they were given, or whether the children showed some symptoms of ADHD but not enough to qualify for the diagnosis.

Your neighbor may have been referring to the fact that some professionals have on occasion tried to diagnose ADHD with a trial of meds--just take the med and see what happens. If it helps, they have ADHD. If it doesn't, they don't. I would run fast from anyone who takes that approach. The diagnosis should come first. In cases that are ambiguous, a trial of meds can clarify the diagnosis, but meds should never be given without good reason to believe that it might be ADHD.

As far as your son, do you have reason to question the diagnosis? Do you think it was done improperly?

CrazyLazyGal
07-10-11, 03:18 PM
Many ADHD medications are stimulants. Caffeine is a stimulant as well. Caffeine can help ADHD'ers stay on task better. Personally, it does nothing for me, but it does help many ADHD'ers.

Caffeine also makes many non-ADHD'ers stay on task better. So how you react to caffeine should not be used to diagnose you as having ADHD or not.

Many ADHD medications, in low doses, can affect a non-ADHD'er the same way caffeine does. You see a real difference when you get to clinical level doses. The therapeutic dose for an ADHD'er can give a non-ADHD'er a drug high, which is why some people have started to snort it illegally :mad:

Luvmybully
07-10-11, 03:18 PM
I can't believe someone told you that giving ANY child a stimulant would make them CALM and better behaved?!?

How is a stimulant going to calm down a non adhd child? That's like saying give a kid a Mountain Dew because the caffeine will calm them down and make them behave better.

Maybe some adults can handle stimulants and it helps them overcome tiredness and focus, but I know I can NOT take any kind of stimulant, even one extra soda a day makes me sick and jittery and keeps me awake all night.

I can't imagine where this person is getting the information about CHILDREN without adhd given a stimulant medication and it calming them down??

selita
07-10-11, 03:50 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12685519

Yes, apparently it does cause some improvement in NT children. That's not really surprising. Stims are widely used for performance enhancement.

The real debate is where the cut-off should be. If ADHD is 2 standard deviations below the mean (of some vague bunch of variables I'll call "success"), should someone at 1 SD below be denied access? If someone is average, should they be denied if it'd help them compete against people well above the mean? If someone is well above the mean, should they be denied, if it could let them save the world?

Some idiots at every level would abuse it. Some would have extra aggression or anxiety or whatever. Some would fall behind for lack of access. Some would burn out. What's the point where the costs and benefits balance?

Luvmybully
07-10-11, 04:15 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12685519

Yes, apparently it does cause some improvement in NT children. That's not really surprising. Stims are widely used for performance enhancement.

The real debate is where the cut-off should be. If ADHD is 2 standard deviations below the mean (of some vague bunch of variables I'll call "success"), should someone at 1 SD below be denied access? If someone is average, should they be denied if it'd help them compete against people well above the mean? If someone is well above the mean, should they be denied, if it could let them save the world?

Some idiots at every level would abuse it. Some would have extra aggression or anxiety or whatever. Some would fall behind for lack of access. Some would burn out. What's the point where the costs and benefits balance?

Wow thanks for posting that! I can't believe they gave them to non-adhd kids just to see what they would do! And I would love to see details of the study.

Mainly, how much did they give the kids? How old were the kids? Who the hell would allow their kid to be a guinea pig?

And they ONLY mention behavioral effects.

From that pubmed link:
"appear to have similar behavioral effects in normal and in hyperactive children"
That is not a whole lot of good information to go by. I would really love to see more information on what exactly they found. What about non-behavioral effects?

No mention of side effects either. If an adhd kid can have side effects I can only imagine a non-adhd kid would have them also.

I still can't believe that anyone can make a blanket statement that stimulants make ALL kids CALM and better behaved.

Alex9
07-10-11, 05:16 PM
Do you think ADHD meds given to a non-adhd child would help them focus better and be calmer, etc?

Your thoughts appreciated!

Adhd meds given to pretty much anybody can improve focus. The presence (or lack of) adhd determines the behavioral effects of the medication. For a child without adhd, giving them a stimulant medication would just make them more hyper. Children with adhd, on the other hand, are usually made calmer by medication.

Simenora
07-10-11, 05:20 PM
my daughter was stealing other family members meds and it was really obvious. yes she was much more helpful and her usually sullen mood and crappy attitude disappeared but we started thinking that she had juvi bi-polar, her mania was so pronounced. She never generally talks and she couldn't stop chattering. NT don't respond to meds the same way as ADHDs. I felt calm and started sleeping for the first time in my (49yr) life after starting treatment.

happytexas
07-10-11, 06:30 PM
ADHD medication didn't make my son better behaved, but it helped him be capable of applying aspects of good behavior; before medication he simply wasn't capable. We still had to do/are doing a lot of work on his behavior; his social skills are still a bit weak.

CrazyLazyGal
07-11-11, 12:06 PM
I asked my school librarian if she can get a copy of the article. I too wonder who would ever let their child take a prescription for a condition they have not been diagnosed with!

Trooper Keith
07-11-11, 02:10 PM
Stimulants improve cognitive performance. That's what they do; and they do it in everyone. It just so happens that when administered to people with ADHD that boost in cognitive performance causes a reduction of symptoms. In a person without ADHD, you can expect him or her to feel rushed and perhaps jittery and "wired," but you can also expect his or her cognitive performance to improve.

It's worth noting that stimulants in too high a dose do the same thing for children with ADHD.

Tracy23
07-13-11, 10:19 AM
Thanks so much for everyone's responses. I don't doubt my son has ADHD, both is behavior, impulsivity and grades have dramatically increased since starting his ADHD meds.

I continue to find this forum supportive and informative. So glad I found it!

CrazyLazyGal
07-13-11, 01:24 PM
The librarian got me a copy of the full paper. It's actually a review of studies on the topic, but as you'll see, it really doesn't address the question.

Peloquin & Kloman, 1986: This is probably the most convincing study, though it has serious flaws. Studied 18 typical children, no ADHD children. Gave them Ritalin at 0.3mg/kg. Ritalin was given twice. Tested children on some memory and cognitive tasks. Overall, children performed better.

Vadiya et al, 1998: All male subjects 8-13 years old. 10 with ADHD and 6 neurotypical. Gave them one dose of Ritalin [I guess ethically they couldn't give them more than that], then put them in an fMRI machine. While in the fMRI machine, they completed two cognitive tasks.

On one task, both ADHD and neurotypical children did better after medication. On the other task, only ADHD children did better after medication. Brain scans revealed that both ADHD and neurotypical children had increased frontal activation after medication. Striatal activation increased for ADHD children but decreased in neurotypical children. [this part supports the "reverse effect" theory]

Werry & Aman, 1984: At the time, Ritalin was proposed as a possible treatment for enuresis [I checked this up, and it means lack of urine control/bedwetting.] Gave Ritalin to ADHD children for 3-4 weeks and to enuretic children for 1 week. Tested them on some cognitive tasks. Both groups (ADHD and enuretic) did better, but improvement was greater in ADHD group.

Dykman, Ackerman, & McCray, 1980: Tested 43 boys with attention problems. 21 met criteria for ADHD, 22 did not meet criteria for ADHD. Of the 22 that did not meet the criteria for ADHD, 11 had reading disabilities, and 11 had ADD but not ADHD. [[I]None of them were neurotypical. In fact, half of the non-ADHD group had ADD!] All children given Ritalin for 3 weeks. Gave them some cognitive tasks. All groups of children (ADHD, reading disability but not ADHD, ADD but not ADHD) improved.

Gittelman, Klein, & Feingold, 1983: 61 children with reading disorders but not behavior disorders, mix of boys and girls. All children received 18 weeks of special education for reading. [This was before laws that mandated that schools provide special education for learning disabilities, so the children never got it in school :(] Half the children given Ritalin in addition to the special education for 2-8 months. Tested them on both reading and math tasks. The benefit of Ritalin was weak for reading tasks. Benefit was high for math tasks.

The authors write, "Acquisition of reading skills in children with pure reading disorders was not facilitated by enhancement of attention with stimulants. Stimulants may not enhance learning; they may improve ability to apply mastered skills."

My take-away message is that it's bad to rely just on summaries/abstracts of papers! It's usually much more nuanced than the sweeping statements the summaries/abstracts make.