ADHD Summer Survival Tips
How to keep ADHD kids happy and healthy all summer long. Plus, is summer the right time for a medication vacation?
ADHD Medication Vacation?
Another hot-button issue for many parents is whether to stop or adjust their
child's ADHD medication during the summer. Parents may crave the respite
because these medications can have unwanted side effects, such as poor
appetite, and many have an inherent fear of having their children on any
medication -- especially a stimulant-type drug. Some parents may just want to
see how their child fares without medication when there are no academic
"Parents can consider using the summer to address concerns and questions
that they have about their child's current medication regimen," Grcevich says.
For example, "if parents see that the child gets benefit from medication but is
having worrisome side effects, they can consider a trial of different
medication in summer."
The warm-weather months are a safer time to try this because "you don't have
to worry about your child failing tests or doing poorly academically during the
summer, so it can be a good time to make these changes," says Fleiss.
Robertson took her son off medication one summer. "While on medication,
Anthony was better able to play patiently with peers, follow directions, and
sit still without a major battle," she recalls. "When we took him off meds for
the summer, Anthony's hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inability to pay
attention returned with a vengeance. It became a full-time job to try to
entertain him in an effort to keep him from creating his own
Off medication, with full-blown ADHD symptoms, Anthony used to burn ants and
once lit the neighbor's dry leaves on fire -- among other things, she
But Nancie Steinberg, a New York City-based public relations expert, is
still not sure what she will do about her son Austen's ADHD medication this
summer. "I gave him a reprieve during winter break as an experiment, but I
think it showed me he needs it to stay focused and not restless," she says. "I
may try again this summer to see what he is like and determine if he truly
needs to be medicated."
If Steinberg or other parents decide to let their children take a medication
break, Grcevich says, "We strongly encourage them to resume medication two
weeks prior to the new school year so that kids are prepared to perform at
their best from day one."
Of course, ADHD is a condition with different levels of symptoms and
severity. Every ADHD child is different and requires an individual assessment.
Parents should speak with their child's doctor about the best approach during
the summer -- and year-round.