Thursday 1 July 2021

The Parents' Guide to ADHD medicines {Book Review}

Following the recent diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) in our household I've been throwing myself into learning more about this condition, and The Parents' Guide to ADHD Medicines* book arrived at just the right time for me to review. I was hoping this book might help me understand a little more about the various medicines which could help our daughter and I definitely wasn't disappointed.
Blue front cover of the book The Parent's Guide to ADHD medicines
I first heard about ADHD years ago when our younger daughter was diagnosed with autism. ADHD and autism are two conditions which seem to go hand-in-hand fairly often (the term 'co-morbid' is also used for this), but that doesn't mean that everyone with autism has ADHD, or vice versa. 

Around a year after our daughter's diagnosis, I began to work in the office of a local Autism & ADHD charity, and it was there that I heard about the basics of ADHD. When Sasha was around the age of six, the paediatrician suggested to us that we should complete the Connors questionnaire (one method of assessing whether a child has ADHD) and our daughter's teachers would too. The results from us parents indicated at that stage that Sasha would pass the threshold for being diagnosed with ADHD, but the school's results didn't quite match. So she wasn't diagnosed. 

It wasn't something we followed up on back then, largely because Sasha was already refusing all medicine at that age and so we knew that trying to persuade her to take either tablets or liquid daily wasn't an option.  An ADHD diagnosis on top of her autism diagnosis wouldn't have made much difference because she was already getting the support she needed in school anyway. Fast forward eight years and a diagnosis is something I have been thinking about more often.

Back then, I do remember thinking that it was a shame in a way that she wasn't given the ADHD diagnosis, because if medicine could have helped her in any way, it probably would have been worth a try. Medicating a child is a very personal decision and not one that most parents would take lightly. But if medicine could have helped reduce Sasha's anxiety or increase her focus, who knows whether she might have been able to stay in mainstream education?

Anyhow, I digress. No point in the 'what ifs', although this is a topic I'm likely to return to in another post sometime. This post is about the book 'The Parent's Guide to ADHD Medicines' and I will start by saying that I highly recommend it for any parent or carer of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, at any age.
Back cover of book parents guide to adhd medicines
The author is Professor Peter Hill, a professor and consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry who has held senior posts at Great Ormond Street Hospital and St George's, University of London. He has over 40 years' experience in treating ADHD and has lectured on this topic worldwide. Although it contains some medical terms (unavoidably!), it is written in clear, concise language suitable for those of us without any prior experience. 

There are three main parts to the book. 1) ADHD Medicines: The Essentials, 2) the individual medicines used in ADHD and 3) the practicalities of treatment with medicines. 

Part 1 begins by covering the names of ADHD medicines in both the UK and the US, and then moves on to explain what the medicines actually do, both in practical terms and in terms of what they do for the brain. Great explanations, in clear, easy to read language. There are also several quotes from some of Professor Hill's patients, explaining in their own words how the medicines have helped. I particularly liked the one from Gemma, 16: 'I can actually think clearly now and my thoughts aren't racing off in all directions' and from Lizzie, 17: 'I look back and think why wasn't I given the chance of this medication years ago. I'm quite angry that it didn't happen. I spent all those years thinking I was just stupid.'

Part 2 is split into three sections and discusses stimulants, non-stimulants and then some other substances used for treatment. The most interesting section of this for me (and relevant to the recent sudden onset of tics which our daughter had) was the paragraph which considers how stimulant medication has been said to maybe cause tics in some children, or to possibly worsen any pre-existing tics. As with most medicines though, these kinds of effects are likely to be variable from individual to individual and in more recent times there is a developing realisation that stimulants do not usually worsen tics. I would urge any other parents to read this book for a fuller picture rather than take our case as a standard occurrence. I think if I had read this book first, my daughter and I would still have agreed to the trial but would have been a little less shocked by the tics which suddenly appeared.

Side effects of these kinds of medication are also discussed in part 2, along with details on how the medication is given. Within this section is a chapter which I think many families will find especially helpful - ADHD medicines when ADHD exists alongside some other condition. Autism (ASD) is mentioned here, along with other conditions such as anxiety and eating disorders, epilepsy, depression and even Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) - sadly no mention of PDA but maybe in the next updated version!

Part 3 covers a variety of extra topics such as the availability of medicines, how to give and take medicines (here's my post on that, Top Tips when your child won't take medicine) and stopping medicines. There's also a good section with commonly asked questions and answers, such as 'can I take ADHD medicines abroad?' and 'will my son need to take medication all his life?', and a reference section for further in-depth reading.

I highly recommend this book for any parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, and for any adults who are considering starting medication for themselves. So much useful information along with added insights into this condition. It's important to remember though, that any further questions or concerns should be directed to a prescribing clinician. 
Blue front cover of the book parents guide to adhd medicines

For more information about PDA, please read the book shown below: 
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It won't cost you any extra.
Book cover for Understanding pathological demand avoidance syndrome in children, by Phil christie, margaret duncan, zara healy and ruth fidler
(Other PDA books can be found in my 

To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page or the summary of our experience in Our PDA Story Week 35. If you are looking for more online reading about Pathological Demand Avoidance, the posts below may help.

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

Autism with demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance?

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  1. Thanks for the introduction to this book. Will need to check this out. Our son has an ADHD diagnosis and is on medication and to be honest, not sure if it’s having the full desired effect. Take care.

    1. I think it can take a while to find what works best for the individual, but worth persevering I think!


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