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ADHD medication is so over-prescribed in the United States that whole states have actually run out of the medication at times. It is also sold by other children on the playground and is known to be purchased by high school students who want to do better on a particular test. This type of medication is not a "smart pill" and only helps a person to improve their performance if a particular part of the brain is being understimulated.
If you don't have this problem then the medication will only give you typical side effects such as lack of appetite (until it wears off) and difficulty sleeping (until it wears off). These medications can also affect a child's growth although there are some ways to counter this effect. For all of these reasons, your pediatrician is unlikely to prescribe one of these medications (a psychostimulant) without supporting documentation such as an evaluation by a doctoral level psychologist.
Dr. Petrosky regularly performs these types of evaluations. In addition to testing your child's attention and concentration a few other comparison tests are done to compare your child's score with other areas of general ability. Behavioral observation scales such as the Connors are also used so that the perspective of the parents and the teacher can be included in the evaluation. Upon completion of this assessment a copy of the report can be sent to your child's doctor who can then prescribe this medication if the assessment indicates that a medication trial is warranted.
Since stimulant medication can affect a person's heart it is important that an EKG be done first in order to rule out any possible (unknown) heart defects. After having the EKG it is recommended that you ask the technician for a part of EKG strip to keep with your child's records in case any heart issue develops at a later point since this gives a baseline comparison.
The National Institute of Health has issued a recommendation that any child who is on this type of medication should also be receiving psychological help in controlling these behaviors. Medication alone is not as effective as this combination approach.
Attention problems tend to run in families such that parents often request to be evaluated after seeing their child improve on this type of medication. Dr. Petrosky is able to do the same type of assessment with adults and can forward the results to your primary care doctor for a trial on one of these medications.