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Questions for parents of kids with ADHD

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jessifrostR

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My daughter is 8 years old and competing her first year on team. I can see her ADHD interfere at practice. I can see she forgets what she is supposed to at stations, and she has a hard time taking multi-step directions/corrections, etc.
We are considering starting her on ADHD meds soon and I am just wondering how it might affect her at gymnastics. I'm really wondering how its going to affect everything in her life honestly. This is hard for me. When she was 6 years old, it was confirmed by her doctor that she has mild ADHD but we decided not to go the medication route because she was still succeeding in school and still very young. Well fast forward two years and she is struggling, poor girl. She is so disorganized, forgetful, distracted. She is so bright but now struggling in school and I can't bear to see her "feel stupid" and not reach her full potential academically.
If there are parents here who has a gymnast with ADHD, can you please share with me how medications affects their gym life? Do they do better or worse medicated? Does it wear off around the time they go to practice? Do the meds have side effects that interfere with practice?
She loves gymnastics so much and I see so much potential in her. She is progressing so quickly despite her struggles wit focus. I just hope this doesn't have to be a barrier to her success in school or gym!
 

acam1103

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My 11-year old started medication a bit over a year ago and it did help at gym. He is on an extended release med and it does wear off before practice so he takes a smaller dose in a non-extended release pill as a booster in the afternoon. His biggest issues were impulsivity and hyperactivity which are not good mixes with gymnastics practice. His coaches saw improvements in both areas, and then saw an increase in issues when he needed an adjustment after about a year, and a decrease again when we made the adjustment.

When he first began the medication and then when he began the higher dose he had a couple of weeks of feeling run down, tired, and mild stomach aches. For those weeks obviously he didn't get as much out of practice but it was short lived. He has had no negative impacts in terms of his ability or performance from the meds.

Good luck, it is a tough decision. We were uncomfortable with medicating and waiting way too long to try them, to our son's detriment.
 

jessifrostR

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My 11-year old started medication a bit over a year ago and it did help at gym. He is on an extended release med and it does wear off before practice so he takes a smaller dose in a non-extended release pill as a booster in the afternoon. His biggest issues were impulsivity and hyperactivity which are not good mixes with gymnastics practice. His coaches saw improvements in both areas, and then saw an increase in issues when he needed an adjustment after about a year, and a decrease again when we made the adjustment.

When he first began the medication and then when he began the higher dose he had a couple of weeks of feeling run down, tired, and mild stomach aches. For those weeks obviously he didn't get as much out of practice but it was short lived. He has had no negative impacts in terms of his ability or performance from the meds.

Good luck, it is a tough decision. We were uncomfortable with medicating and waiting way too long to try them, to our son's detriment.
Thank you so much for sharing! We definitely have put it off as long as we could. I thought for a long time, the hyperactivity was just normal kid behavior but I can see now that a lot of her struggles are definitely outside the realm of what is normal. I am glad you mentioned that some of the side effects were short lived because I think if I saw her going through that and thought that was going to be our new normal, I'd be very discouraged. How did you bring it up to the coaches? I never really honestly ever talked to her about ADH. but since we will be medicating soon, I know we are going to have to be open and honest with her about it and I think she is old enough now to understand. So I guess we will have to speak with her coaches then also..so much to think about.
 

John

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My son took medicine. He said he could focus for hours and he absorbed everything.

He could not sleep and never had an appetite.
 

jessifrostR

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My son took medicine. He said he could focus for hours and he absorbed everything.

He could not sleep and never had an appetite.
So insomnia and loss of appetite were long term side effects of the meds? How did you handle that? Nutrition is so important for these kids. And it seems like lack of sleep would eventually catch up to them and cause problems?
 

Aussie_coach

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Common initial side effects are things like feeling unwell, stomach pains etc. these usually only last a few weeks.

The most common side effects of stimulant meds are loss of appetite and insomnia. These symptoms tend to present for a much longer period of time. On average at least a year, and some kids deal with it indefinitely.

If your child experiences side effects like tics, hallucinations etc, then these are very serious side effects and can continue in the long term even if the meds are stopped. These side effects are rare but if they show up need to be urgently reported to a doctor.

Appetite suppression is usually dealt with by giving a large breakfast and having tablets with breakfast, so the child wants to eat before the meds kick in. Insomnia is usually dealt with by making sure the medication has reached its half life before going to bed. Short acting meds usually reach their half life in around 4 hours, so not having them more than 4 hours before bed is useful. Long acting meds can take 8-12 hours to reach a half life.

The severity of these side effects will vary greatly from person to person. If you find your child struggles to tolerate certain meds, there are other options. Don’t be afraid to try a few times with different things. It can take many tries to get the medication and the dosage right.

The dosage is also important, if it’s too low you get limited positive benefits, if it’s too high you get lots of side effects and it can be tricky to get it absolutely correct. If your child is acting zombie like, then the dosage is too high, it should not rob her of her natural spark.

Slightly lower doses tend to be more beneficial for attention and learning problems, while slightly higher doses tend to be more beneficial for behavioural problems.
 

Aussie_coach

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In Australia most meds are short acting, lasting around 4 hours. Usually the kids take 1 in the morning around 7 or 8AM, which kicks in for school, a 2nd around 11-12, and a 3rd does is often taken at 3 or 4PM. Which helps with homework, gymnastics and other extra curricular activities, behaviour at home etc.

But in the US the slow release and long acting meds are more popular, they may give maximum benefit for 8-12 hours. This can be a problem. A common side effect is called the rebound effect. It means when the meds wear off the problems tend to come back in a far more extreme way. If you time it right for school it can mean the rebound effect will hit right in the middle of gymnastics.

So it can help to take the slow release meds in the morning and then have another short acting tablet just before practise starts.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Bringing it up with the coaches can bring mixed reviews.

Her ADHD must not be too bad if you have not had to let the coaches know as yet. If you don’t feel it will be a good thing you may still not have to bring it up with them, especially when she is on medication.

For some gyms it is the best thing to bring it up. The coaches being aware of the difficulties can be more supportive, try to give instructions one at a time. Be stricter with behaviour etc. Some coaches believe that you need to be more accomodating with ADHD behaviour, but being stricter is actually a lot more beneficial. It is much easier for ADHD kids to manage with really clear and firm boundaries and guidelines, with fairly immediate and short consequences. Many coaches give lots of warnings, are inconsistent and then hit kids with really big consequences, which is very unhelpful. With ADHD it’s so much better to jump on the behaviour early and give small and consistent consequences.

Sometimes bringing it up with gyms and coaches is not a good idea. It can be held against the child and stop them from progressing, or being selected for teams etc. of course no gym will admit To this, but it happens.
 

Aussie_coach

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I strongly urge you to talk to your child about her ADHD though. If she doesn’t know about it, there is a good chance that she may be judging herself to be stupid, a bad learner, naughty etc. once a child gives herself these labels they can last a lifetime in her psyche.

It is also easier to deal with a psychiatric diagnosis now as a child, than to find out in her pre teen or teen years where she is going through the usual identity crisis of these years.

How you approach it will play a big role in how she will view herself as a person from here on in. If you can make sure you are the one to discuss it with her, you can protect her from some of the negativity she may experience if she finds out accidentally from outside sources.

There is a fine line in seeing it as a condition that presents her with more challenges and seeing it as an excuse. Kids who see it as an excuse can grow up with the idea that they can’t do what other people can do because of their ADHD and then really meet their true potential.

When you talk to her about it, focus on the positive aspects of the condition as well. Hyperactivity May be annoying for her teachers but it means she has more energy than other kids. Impulsivity May get her in trouble but many people would love to be able to have the spontaneity it brings. Perhaps even focus on role models in society that also have ADHD like Simone Biles for example!

You can teach her to approach for ADHD the way we approach gymnastics. Now skills may be hard at first, but we break them down and problem solve any areas that we are struggling with, then we practise until we can get it right.
 

raenndrops

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My daughter is 8 years old and competing her first year on team. I can see her ADHD interfere at practice. I can see she forgets what she is supposed to at stations, and she has a hard time taking multi-step directions/corrections, etc.
We are considering starting her on ADHD meds soon and I am just wondering how it might affect her at gymnastics. I'm really wondering how its going to affect everything in her life honestly. This is hard for me. When she was 6 years old, it was confirmed by her doctor that she has mild ADHD but we decided not to go the medication route because she was still succeeding in school and still very young. Well fast forward two years and she is struggling, poor girl. She is so disorganized, forgetful, distracted. She is so bright but now struggling in school and I can't bear to see her "feel stupid" and not reach her full potential academically.
If there are parents here who has a gymnast with ADHD, can you please share with me how medications affects their gym life? Do they do better or worse medicated? Does it wear off around the time they go to practice? Do the meds have side effects that interfere with practice?
She loves gymnastics so much and I see so much potential in her. She is progressing so quickly despite her struggles wit focus. I just hope this doesn't have to be a barrier to her success in school or gym!
We have 3 girls on our team that are medicated for ADHD. 2 are on extended release only and take it at 8am. The 3rd is on extended release in the morning and a second, short acting one that she takes an hour before practice. It wears off before bedtime and it doesnt affect her appetite either.
The meds allow them to focus in school, in life, and in gym.
One of the 2 girls taking a single dose does NOT take her meds on non-meet weekends. Her parents say it helps because she will eat more (she is one that doesn't have much of an appetite during the week and mom supplements with protein smoothies).

Good luck.
 

jessifrostR

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We have 3 girls on our team that are medicated for ADHD. 2 are on extended release only and take it at 8am. The 3rd is on extended release in the morning and a second, short acting one that she takes an hour before practice. It wears off before bedtime and it doesnt affect her appetite either.
The meds allow them to focus in school, in life, and in gym.
One of the 2 girls taking a single dose does NOT take her meds on non-meet weekends. Her parents say it helps because she will eat more (she is one that doesn't have much of an appetite during the week and mom supplements with protein smoothies).

Good luck.
Thank you for the helpful information!
 
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jessifrostR

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I strongly urge you to talk to your child about her ADHD though. If she doesn’t know about it, there is a good chance that she may be judging herself to be stupid, a bad learner, naughty etc. once a child gives herself these labels they can last a lifetime in her psyche.

It is also easier to deal with a psychiatric diagnosis now as a child, than to find out in her pre teen or teen years where she is going through the usual identity crisis of these years.

How you approach it will play a big role in how she will view herself as a person from here on in. If you can make sure you are the one to discuss it with her, you can protect her from some of the negativity she may experience if she finds out accidentally from outside sources.

There is a fine line in seeing it as a condition that presents her with more challenges and seeing it as an excuse. Kids who see it as an excuse can grow up with the idea that they can’t do what other people can do because of their ADHD and then really meet their true potential.

When you talk to her about it, focus on the positive aspects of the condition as well. Hyperactivity May be annoying for her teachers but it means she has more energy than other kids. Impulsivity May get her in trouble but many people would love to be able to have the spontaneity it brings. Perhaps even focus on role models in society that also have ADHD like Simone Biles for example!

You can teach her to approach for ADHD the way we approach gymnastics. Now skills may be hard at first, but we break them down and problem solve any areas that we are struggling with, then we practise until we can get it right.
This was really good advice. Thank you! I guess I was in denial myself for a long time about it. I also didn't want to label her ADHD and make her feel different. I thought "maybe this is just her personality".


Her coaches have never complained. I have watched some practices and its definitely not a behavioral issue or safety or anything. But I can see a difference between her and all the other girls. When they are lined up at meets and the coach is talking to them, she is the only one fidgeting around. I am still torn on what to say to the coaches because I dont want them to see her dofferently or judge her because of it..
 
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John

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We ended up using the patch. He applied it in the morning before school. At dismissal bell he tore it off. He usually could have a late dinner and sleep by 11.

If I could do it again I'd choose No medication.
 
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Peachy88

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Following. My five year old is clearly mild ADHD although she does well coping as her teachers have never brought it up. She has major impulse issues and more energy than is normal. Gymnastics has become a therapy for her. She concentrates (as much as she can.) and works her body for hours and is much better behaved the next day. Following for nonmedicated advice at this point but also just interested in people’s experiences.
 
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raenndrops

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Following. My five year old is clearly mild ADHD although she does well coping as her teachers have never brought it up. She has major impulse issues and more energy than is normal. Gymnastics has become a therapy for her. She concentrates (as much as she can.) and works her body for hours and is much better behaved the next day. Following for nonmedicated advice at this point but also just interested in people’s experiences.
Lol, I was non-medicated until 7th grade. Then I was accidentally medicated for 18months (not only medicated, but over-medicated).
Mild ADHD can often be managed drug-free. If it is so bad that it affects multiple aspects of their life and behavior modification / dietary changes don't work, THEN it might be time to consider meds.
 

jessifrostR

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Following. My five year old is clearly mild ADHD although she does well coping as her teachers have never brought it up. She has major impulse issues and more energy than is normal. Gymnastics has become a therapy for her. She concentrates (as much as she can.) and works her body for hours and is much better behaved the next day. Following for nonmedicated advice at this point but also just interested in people’s experiences.
I can really relate to this. Around 5 or 6, gymnastics became very therapeutic for my hyper, energetic little girl! It was such a good outlet for her energy, and still is to this day. Gymnastics, riding her bike, and rock climbing, any exercise that wears her out helps her behavior so much. For kids that have this excess energy, it can really benefit them in gymnastics. While the other kids wear out in practice and conditioning, my girl can keep going and going lol. The impulsiveness was major problem around 3-6 years old. She would do thinks like run out to get a ball that rolled in the street without even thinking, or just climb on random things, even if it wasn't safe or appropriate., but she is 8 now and that impulsive behavior has gotten MUCH better without meds. Her coaches comment all the time on her "fearlessness" and they love that she "just goes for it" when it comes to scary skills, but sometimes I think its part of the ADHD impulsiveness. Your little girl sounds a lot mine at that age, and we waited until now to even consider medication, only because I know see it affecting her school success. I wish your little daughter the best! If she sticks with gymnastics, I think it will continue to be a great therapy for her!
 
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Aussie_coach

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It's actually a myth that physical activity "wears out" a child's hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is actually not caused by having too much energy (that is just how it comes across), but by a lack of the electrical activity in the brain that regulates activity level. You will often see with an ADHD child that being tired makes them more hyperactive and not less.

What physical activity does is help to produce more of the brain activity needed to focus and control activity levels. This brain boost helps to manage concentration and hyperactivity. Gymnastics is particularly good for this because it isn't just physical activity. The gymnasts need to get their body to do many different types,of movement patterns, this develops new neural pathways in the brain.
 

jessifrostR

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It's actually a myth that physical activity "wears out" a child's hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is actually not caused by having too much energy (that is just how it comes across), but by a lack of the electrical activity in the brain that regulates activity level. You will often see with an ADHD child that being tired makes them more hyperactive and not less.

What physical activity does is help to produce more of the brain activity needed to focus and control activity levels. This brain boost helps to manage concentration and hyperactivity. Gymnastics is particularly good for this because it isn't just physical activity. The gymnasts need to get their body to do many different types,of movement patterns, this develops new neural pathways in the brain.
So true! My daughter does so much better focusing on homework after getting outside and riding her bike for a bit! I read a study about how exercise not only encourages the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and seratonin in the brain, but almost has near the same effect as the stimulant type meds, its just more short term effects than the meds.
 

Peachy88

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YES I don’t think it is th actual physical activity that helps her I think it is the gymnastics in particular. I think it is the concentration and probably these neural pathways you speak of. I get super upset when gym is canceled because she is so much better behaved. And I really hope she grows out of the impulsiveness but she came out this way! She just grabs things, or jumps on people, or makes terrible noises, or climbs dangerous things, and has done this forever. But yes she also has no fear about skills and it’s terrifying and exciting at th same time. I had no idea Simone biles was adhd. Good to have role models.
 
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