My boy was diagnosed at about 10. We had already moved him to a school that was more focused on individual development because of the issues that he was having coping in the main stream schooling system. They spent large amounts of time figuring out what he needed to be able to engage in the educational process. And essentially developed practices around what was going to get him to thrive. Things like moving subjects like english into a technology or science framework so he could learn the skills needed to get through english but wrapped up in a subject he was interested in and good at.
We in the end decided to follow the medication avenue. Also this added another level of benefit because it also allowed him the relief from his ADHD symptoms to develop developmentally appropriate levels of social development and let him catch up to his peers academically.
He has just finished his first year of high school and has passed all of his subjects some with very good marks. I honestly do think that at the point in his life he was diagnosed without him going to the independent school he would have still had trouble getting to where he is now. The staff at that school had the time and skills to develop him and in main stream schools here in Australia they just don’t have that. But also i think without medication he would have had trouble getting back on track. And continued to have problems interacting with his peers possibly leading to loneliness and developing a dislike of education because school would have been a place of isolation and unhappiness.
ADHD medications in children are very heavily studied for efficacy and safety. They are well tolerated and highly effective but just like everyone else dosage and choice of medication and delivery method play a roll in the balance of side effects and how well the medication works.
I also think that home schooling is very complicated. We looked into it also and had similar worries about disruption to our lives and how it might effect his development of interpersonal skills and if we as parents could even effectively deliver the academic portion of his education. In the end the deciding factor for us was that the teachers he had that where highly skilled and had years of experience developing strategies to move kids forward still thought that medication would benefit our boy. If they had trouble getting him on track we would likely struggle. We decided that the best position for us to be in was to be his parents first not being the front line and leaving that to the people that know their trade. We instead put our energy into advocating for him when we needed to and putting a frame work in place that allowed him to achieve.
This is a bit harder in main stream high school because of the reasons mentioned earlier. One of the things we have put in place is he dose not do any homework outside of assignments required for assessment and thats because he just dose not have the capacity at the end of a school day to deliver it all.
Medications and mode of schooling and allowances made because of ADHD are all just tools to be used to get the best outcomes for the kids. I think ruling out validated options of any kind to get the best outcome is counter productive. Its a case of finding the best balance of these tools based on individual needs of the kids and your family’s needs is the key. And its hard sometimes very hard but every dollar and minute spent now will pay dividends down the track.
It was hard for me to come to grips with his challenges and overcoming the guilt and fear around medication and specialist modes of education and moving away from the thought process of what dose this mean about me or how it reflects on me and focusing on the minority of negative outcomes that can arise from any of these options. And really looking deeply into the science and evidence around different options.
For us medication has provided a key tool in raising a happy well adjusted boy but alone would have not been as effective as a mixed mode approach. Don’t get me wrong if it was the only option it would have been much much better than doing nothing. And remember that the situation and options are fairly dynamic and just because you make one decision now that you can always assess it and change your mind. Trying out different strategies is the only way to know if they are going to work out.
In the end no one really knows you kids as well as you do. Others will have opinions based on their perspective and skills and should be taken into account if they have relevant qualification to have an opinion and filtering the thoughts and opinions of others is not only a scientific but emotional task that can have impacts on relationships and interactions with the people around you.
Sorry for the long long post but this subject is one that i have lived and I understand the very real struggle that you are going through. I could rant on for hundreds of pages about this subject.
If you want to chat or would like any more information or details around what we did feel free to reach out .
And remember whatever you decide that your just trying to figure out whats the best for your little ones. There is really no instruction manual for kids