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Giving My Son Medication for ADHD Made All the Difference

Everyone wants their child to be active and enjoy playing outside. That was no different for my son, James: I always wanted him to explore and play with the other kids. He loves all sports, and he’s also very into math, science and reading—so a little bit of everything! One of his favorite sports is definitely deck hockey, where the kids play in a rink without the skates. He loves getting his two younger siblings to play too. Together they have beautiful imaginations and create these worlds they play in together. He’s such a good kid.

When he was young, however, there was something that stood out to me about his energy compared to other kids, and I started to wonder if it was something to pay attention to. At around 2 or 3 years old, I started to see that he was hyperactive compared to other children his age. It really stood out during playdates or group play at the library. When other kids would sit and play quietly, my son loved running around the room. It was almost like he was driven by a motor; he just had boundless energy all the time. 

When James started preschool, his teachers expressed to us that he struggled with things like circle time, sitting and reading. It was getting to the point where special accommodations had to be made for him in the classroom. We also learned that he was struggling with making friends or even just listening to his teachers and following along with the lessons. That was when we made the decision to pursue some additional answers for James.

To be honest, I was initially nervous about speaking with a pediatrician. I was afraid of being judged, as if I somehow just couldn’t handle my son’s behavior. I was worried they’d think we were jumping to the conclusion of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) just to get medication and make our own lives easier. I definitely felt that stigma going into those talks. I work in healthcare, so I was familiar with the symptoms. But I also knew the other side of the healthcare coin and how a query about ADHD can be perceived a certain way, especially when the child is so young.

Initially the doctors did dismiss some of it as just “typical” toddler child behavior. But in my heart, I knew there was more going on. They were open to exploring ADHD with us, despite the hesitation, so they gave us the scales and assessments for the teachers to fill out. They administer the assessments separately to the parents and teachers, then they look for any discrepancies. However the teachers definitely agreed with my inclination about ADHD, so there were no discrepancies between what the teachers said and what we said. That was definitely a signal that something more was going on with James.

Since James was so young, we didn’t want to immediately start him on medication after the diagnosis, so we tried a lot of behavioral modification instead. James also saw a therapist to help him develop techniques to stay focused and on task. They worked on this together through play therapy, which is helpful to young kids like mine who are living with ADHD. They play typical child games, but the therapist would also use things like taking turns, staying on task and rewards to help them with their self-control. It was all about incorporating good behavior modifications into playing. We also made accommodations in the classroom, such as allowing James to sit in a chair instead of on the rug or to stand, which gave him the freedom to fidget a bit more. This helped him get some of that energy out and also not disrupt the other kids. 

The turning point for us in terms of medication was a report card we received when he was in first grade. Although his classroom modifications had evolved and changed as he had gotten older, James still received a lower mark than usual under the “behavior” section. He was speaking out of turn more in class, and we knew it was time to talk about medication since ADHD was affecting his academic experience. 

After a few other options, we eventually landed on Quillivant XR (methylphenidate hydrochloride), a medication used to treat people 6 years and older with ADHD. We learned about the liquid medication from James’s doctor. The liquid is actually great for us because he doesn’t have any issues taking it. He used to get anxious about swallowing pills, even after we practiced with Tic Tacs and things like that. James was 7 years old when we started, so he was also scared the pills would get stuck in his throat. With Quillivant XR, I can give him his medication properly because it is a liquid. James just takes it as part of our usual daily routine. James’s doctor also told us that he could adjust the dose in small amounts, depending on James’s response to treatment. He also explained that Quillivant XR may help increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity in people with ADHD but there are also risks associated with taking methylphenidate medicine, including abuse and dependence.

Quillivant XR is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep Quillivant XR in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Quillivant XR may harm others, and is against the law. Tell your physician if you, your child, or any family members have ever abused or been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines, or street drugs.

We were pleasantly surprised at how well Quillivant XR worked and how easily he transitioned into using it. With his other medications, you could almost tell when the dose was wearing off. That wasn’t the case here. You could see the change in his behavior, and the transition was very smooth and gradual along the way. It also made a difference in the way he interacted with others. We started to notice that James was more attentive, both with friends and at home. To be honest, the atmosphere at home became a lot more manageable for everyone. 

I think one of the most important things I did as a parent was ask James if he wanted to go on this medication. I read somewhere once to ask your child this: Do you find that your thoughts in your brain are going so fast that it makes it hard to think sometimes? His immediate response was “yes” to my questions, which made me feel more confident in the choice to try it. Since he’s now been on it for more than a year, I’ve asked him if he’s noticed a difference in those thoughts, and he said he definitely has! 

Qullivant XR should not be taken if you are allergic to methylphenidate or any of its ingredients. You should also not take it if you are taking, or if you took, an anti-depression medicine called monoamine oxidase inhibitor or MAOI within the last two weeks. Quillivant XR can have other serious side effects on your heart and blood pressure, on mental health causing new or worsening problems, on circulation problems in fingers and toes, cause painful and prolonged erections, and in children, it can slow the rate of growth (height and weight). Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or who become pregnant while taking Quillivant XR, should talk to their doctor. Women should not breastfeed while taking Quillivant XR as it passes into breast milk. See more safety information here.

While we haven’t discussed ADHD much with his siblings, James and I talk about it openly with each other, and I’ve spoken with other parents too. Many of the parents I’ve talked to also have kids who live with ADHD, and they haven’t found medication that works for them. So I like to share my son’s story because parents should not be afraid to ask for help. I view it, like, if someone has high blood pressure, would you deny them their high blood pressure medication? It should be something simple like that. You and your child’s doctor can decide if your child should get on medication for a condition they have. It can really make a difference in the child’s behavior, emotions, and school day. It’s really just the whole family dynamic. It really helps out.


The following have been reported with the use of methylphenidate hydrochloride and other stimulant medicines:

  • Heart-related problems:
    • Sudden death in patients who have heart problems or heart defects
    • Stroke and heart attack in adults
    • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
    • Your healthcare provider should check you or your child’s blood pressure and heart rate regularly during treatment with Quillivant XR
  • Mental (psychiatric) problems:
    • New or worse behavior and thought problems
    • New or worse bipolar illness
    • May cause new psychotic symptoms (such as hearing voices, believing things that are not true, are suspicious) or new manic symptoms
  • Circulation problems in fingers and toes (peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon):
    • Fingers or toes may feel numb, cool, painful, or may change color from pale, to blue, to red

Call your healthcare provider right away if you or your child have any:

  • Heart-related symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting
  • New or worsening mental (psychiatric) symptoms or new manic symptoms
  • Signs of unexplained wounds appearing on fingers or toes while taking Quillivant XR

Quillivant XR may not be right for you or your child. Tell your healthcare provider if:

  • You or your child have, or have a family history of, heart problems, heart defects, or high blood pressure
  • You or your child have mental problems, including psychosis (hearing voices, believing things that are not true, are suspicious), mania, bipolar illness, or depression, or a family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression
  • You or your child have circulation problems in fingers and toes
  • You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Quillivant XR will harm your unborn baby. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnantYou are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Quillivant XR passes into your breast milk. You and your doctor should decide if you will take Quillivant XR or breastfeed

What should I avoid while taking Quillivant XR? 

Quillivant XR should not be taken with MAOI medicines or if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days. Do not drink alcohol while taking Quillivant XR. This may cause a faster release of your methylphenidate dose.

What are the possible side effects of Quillivant XR?

Quillivant XR may cause serious side effects, including:

  • See “What is the most important information I should know about Quillivant XR?” for information on reported heart and mental problems

Other serious side effects include:

  • Painful and prolonged erections (priapism) have occurred with methylphenidate. If you or your child develop priapism seek medical help right away. Because priapism can cause long-lasting damage, it should be checked by a healthcare provider right away
  •  Slowing of growth (height and weight) in children

Common side effects of amphetamine products include:

  • dry mouth
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • trouble sleeping
  • restlessness
  • extreme mood changes
  • dizziness
  • increased heart rate

These are not all the possible side effects of Quillivant XR.

Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is Quillivant XR?

Quillivant XR is a central nervous system stimulant prescription medicine. Quillivant XR is a liquid medicine that you take by mouth. 

Quillivant XR is used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Quillivant XR may help increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity in people with ADHD.

It is not known if Quillivant XR, a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant prescription medication, is safe and effective in children under 6 years of age.

Please see Full Prescribing Information for Quillivant XR, including Boxed WARNING about Abuse and Dependence, and Medication Guide.

For more information about Quillivant XR, please visit,

Quillivant XR is a registered trademark of NextWave Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

© 2021 Tris Pharma, Inc. All rights reserved.  QUI.1109.PR     10/21

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