For the ADD patient and family, working together to ensure good schoolwork and social progress is a year-round process. That's why I've put together a month-by-month calendar that highlights important issues to consider. Use it for planning and for discussions with your therapist.
January: School terms and marking periods are coming to an end. This is a good time to see how exams are going, review study habits, and make sure that the student (at any level) is ready for the rest of the year, which is often more difficult than the first part.
February: How is ADD affecting your family? ADD affects more than the patient. Stress can be felt by siblings who don't get enough attention, the parent who sits for hours during homework, and often the marriage itself. This is a good time to review the situation with your therapist and keep your family healthy.
March: Let's look for adults we know with ADD. ADD in adults can affect all areas of life including job, family, and self-esteem. If you're aware of an adult with unrecognized ADD, maybe you can find a way to bring it to their attention. You can use the checklist on www.simonepstein.org. to discuss it with them or even email it. If you can do it, it's a real service to the ADD adult.
April: The year is moving along. It's time to re-evaluate the progress of the ADD student. Is the medication effective or are changes needed? Is the ADD student having trouble getting organized or mastering subjects? Now may be the time to get a tutor or coach. It's not too late to make changes, but it is too late to postpone necessary action.
May: By now most high school students know where they will be going to college in the fall, which makes it possible to begin the process of getting special services. Colleges vary both in the depth of the services offered and the requirements for acceptance. If you want to apply for these services, the first thing is to find out the requirements. Then contact your therapist immediately to proceed with letters and information, and even a full battery of psychological test if required.
June: School is mercifully coming to an end, and summer planning is underway. Now is the time many parents want to stop or alter medications. As I have written, I believe medication should always be used except in special situations. Sometimes, however, changing the form of medication is helpful. For example, you might not want the long acting form used during school because a short acting form would be more appropriate. Please be sure to discuss this with your doctor. An office visit is often useful for this purpose.
July: Teenage driving becomes a focus in the summer. It is well known that the highest accident rates occur among teenagers as a group. When you are a new driver with ADD, the problem of focus is added to those of inexperience. It is, therefore, important that the new ADD driver be on their medication when driving. Since they may not be taking medication regularly in the summer, the use of medication has to be discussed with your doctor.
August: College-bound students, especially freshman, should meet with their doctor. It is important to plan such things as appropriate medications, keeping them in a secure place and methods of getting refills. Try not to wait until the last minute to schedule the appointment
September: Make sure you are ready as the school year begins. In general, students do better the first marking period and some parents take this to mean that medication isn't necessary. That would be a mistake, so if you are thinking of making a change, please contact your doctor first. Also, put on your calendar to plan to attend the annual CACLD conference held in October.
October: I get calls from adults who discontinued their medication a year or two before. They've been having increasing difficulty at work, especially if they work in a cubicle surrounded by noise. If this is a problem or you are planning a new job, consult your doctor to see if medication might be helpful.
November: Report cards give us a clue as to how the ADD child is doing. Pay careful attention to them, including the comments on attention. Sometimes a child can be under-medicated even if he is doing fairly well. Talk with the teachers, get a feeling for the pluses and minuses, and see if changes might be in order.
December: Happy New Year.
I hope you find this calendar helpful to review some key points in the management of ADD. I have written more extensively on most of the topics, which you can find on my website (www.simonepstein.org).