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ADHD Drug Holidays: Should Your Kid Get One?

Experts debate the pros and cons of giving kids a break from ADHD drugs.

Drug Holidays: What to Expect

There are no good studies that tell how many children stop and start their medications. But of those kids who do, up to one-third "do OK with a drug holiday," Vitiello says.

You may be part of the majority of parents who notice an immediate change in your child when he's taking a break from his stimulant-type ADHD medication.

Pam Feldman, a social worker who lives in Ferndale, Mich., twice forgot to give her 9-year-old son his dose of Ritalin. Mere hours after he left the house, she got calls from teachers and a camp director asking her to pick him up or otherwise get him under control.

The experience forced Feldman to set up a system where her son can't miss his pill in the morning -- it's there, in his orange juice cup.

"I learned my lesson, and now I'm afraid to not have him on it," she says.

Yet, Feldman says she still halves his dose of Ritalin on the weekends. Why? Because she fears that she is seeing him only when he's on his medications and that he won't learn to control his behaviors without them.

"It's my fear of medicating him too much. Part of impulsivity is sensory overload; at home, when it's just us, he doesn't have that. From 3:30 to 5:30 on, it's just him," she says.

"We have to learn to love our children and deal with them," she says. "On the other hand, the rest of the world doesn't have to.''

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