So, your doctor is recommending medication for your child but you have many questions. In the doctor’s office you most likely will be taking in information at such a fast pace that you may not think of everything you want to ask right then and there! Making the decision to put your child on medication for behavioral or psychiatric disorders is not something to be taken lightly. I encourage you to do your research and walk into your doctor’s appointment with a list of questions to prompt and guide you!
Below, I’ve included some ideas that you may want to ask. This list is one that was created by one of my colleagues and has been very beneficial to families!
•What is the name of the medication? Is it known by other names?
•What is known about its helpfulness with other children who have a similar condition to my child?
•How will the medication help my child? How long before I see improvement? When will it work?
•What are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
•What is the recommended dosage? How often will the medication be taken?
•Are there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood test, etc.) which need to be done before my child begins taking the medication? Will any tests need to be done while my child is taking the medication?
•Are there any other medications or foods which my child should avoid while taking the medication?
•Are there interactions between this medication and other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) my child is taking?
•Are there any activities that my child should avoid while taking the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other activities?
•How long will my child need to take this medication? How will the decision be made to stop this medication?
•What do I do if a problem develops (e.g. if my child becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?
•Does my child’s school nurse need to be informed about this medication?
It’s helpful to include your child in the discussion about medications as well, emphasizing that the medication will NOT make them automatically behave but instead, helps their bodies to function in a way that will allow them to think through and make better choices. There are some great children’s stories out there to help gain an understanding on how medication can help them. One of my favorites is “Otto Learns about His Medicine: A Story about Medication for Children with ADHD” by Matthew R. Galvin.