Ask Dr. Holmes

dr. william holmes

Question:

How long will children need to take medication? I hate the thought of my children being on medication until they are well into their adult years, but if they are taking it due to a chemical imbalance then won’t they always have a chemical imbalance? 

Answer: 

Your question is a good one. The simple answer is, “It depends,” but obviously there is more to it than that. Basically, the length of time that medications need to be used havs to do with two main factors.

First, there is the basic question of whether the need for medications continues to be present. If a child continues to display significant emotional and behavioral problems, and if these difficulties can be potentially helped by medications, then the continued use of medications needs to be considered. A related question has to do with what other strategies are being used to support the child, and whether these other treatments are providing benefit. For example, the use of various individual, group, and family therapies can be very helpful for children. Sometimes, other supportive strategies in the environment can also provide benefit. It is not unusual to get the best benefit from the use of medications in combination with other treatments.

The second factor has to do with whether there is a strong enough benefit from medications to justify their use. This is always looked at relative to any potential risks or side effects from medications. We know that some people, children included, can display enough improvement over time that medications become less necessary. Also, the opposite can occur as well. That’s why it’s so important for children who are taking medications to be monitored on a regular basis. This monitoring needs to include consistent communication between the provider, child, and responsible adult(s) so that consistent, high-quality decisions can be made.

So, medications are not always used “forever.” However, the length time depends on good, consistent monitoring with a provider who knows what he/she is doing.

Dr. Holmes welcomes all medical questions related to your foster children.  Please send all questions to askdrholmes@nfpaonline.org.

Ask Dr. Holmes

dr. william holmes

Question:
I’m confused as to why my kid was put on a “stimulant” for being hyper. That makes no sense to me.

Answer:

Thanks for asking this question – people often wonder about this. The current understanding of ADHD is that the primary difficulties have to do with the parts of the brain that control levels of awareness, alertness, and attention span. Problems in these areas can result in impulsivity, decreased attention span, and lack of self-control. We know that the stimulant medications help to improve these problems.

At the same time, the stimulant medicines can cause side effects related to increased activation and agitation. As a result, it is important to monitor the child’s response to treatment to make sure that the medication is not causing increased problems related to the symptoms of ADHD. For most people, the doses used for ADHD are helpful, and the possible side effects only occur at higher doses or when these medicines are abused.

So, when you think of ADHD, remember that they hyperactivity has to do with an inability to focus and filter out less important information. The stimulant medicines are usually helpful for these problems, and that’s why they are often used.

Dr. Holmes welcomes your questions about medication and your foster child.  Please send questions to askdrholmes@nfpaonline.org.

Vote on proposed resolution

All NFPA members will soon be receiving an electronic ballot asking for an affirmative vote on a new resolution presented to the NFPA Board of Directors on Aug. 3. This resolution regarding allowing access to original birth certificates and information to adult adoptees was passed by the board but cannot become an NFPA resolution until it is approved by the membership. Please be looking for the ballot with the resolution in your email soon. Please take a moment to vote on this resolution. Once the ballot is sent, there will be 10 days for your response.

NFPA Upcoming Events

See the list of upcoming foster care conferences, NFPA meetings and other important child welfare and foster care events.

Aug. 24-25 – Foster and Adoptive Association of Oklahoma 2015 Conference — Norman, Oklahoma

Sept. 1 – 28th Annual National Independent Living Conference — Orlando, Florida

Oct. 2-4 – Texas Family Foster Association Annual Training Conference — Houston, Texas

Nov. 9 – NFPA Council of State Affiliates Meeting — Las Vegas, Nevada

Nov. 10  – NFPA Joint Meeting between Council of State Affiliates and Board — Las Vegas, Nevada

Nov. 11  – NFPA Board Meeting — Las Vegas, Nevada

June 22-25, 2016 – 46th Annual NFPA Convention — Las Vegas, Nevada