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My Preteen Son Isn’t Ashamed of His ADHD, and I’m So Glad

My son, Zander, was (and still is!) a really, really active kid when he was young, which is something everyone wants for their child! He was always go-go-going outside, running around and getting the most out of his days. He’d never want to take breaks, even when it was hot out. I’d encourage him to come inside, and he’d want to keep playing. At first I thought he simply had a big zest for life, even as a two-year-old. But I started to notice that, along with breaks, he wasn’t really interested in napping either. It was as if he physically couldn’t take them!

The napping protest caused my husband and I to start paying closer attention to signs of ​​attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). My husband lives with ADHD, and a few of the pediatricians we had interviewed prior to Zander’s birth mentioned that it was something first-borns can be predisposed to. But even without that head’s up, I knew my son’s high energy was something different going on. For that reason, I didn’t have much of a reaction when a psychologist officially diagnosed him; I already knew he lived with ADHD. He was never “out of control” or getting into anything dangerous; he just never stopped moving! I was pregnant with my second child at that time, so needless to say, I was already exhausted and often just needed to sit down by the time my husband got home from work.

Back when my husband was diagnosed — he was a freshman in college — the condition was ADD (without the H, Attention Deficit Disorder). Nowadays, I think most cases include the H. The interesting thing was that he never experienced the hyperactive part of living with ADHD. So navigating that with Zander was new and also a fine balance for us. On the one hand, you do want your child spending time outside, moving around and having fun. So many kids are glued to devices now, so it’s nice when they aren’t as interested in that. On the other hand, there is that fine line between active and hyperactive; we wanted to address the latter without discouraging the former.

We did eventually make some changes when Zander was in second grade. I remember my daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time, came home from school one day and told me about what she learned in class. Zander heard her and responded, “Oh, I didn’t know that!” He’s two years older than her, and, in that moment, we realized that perhaps retention had been an issue for him during kindergarten and first grade. That’s when we knew something had to change. First, we decided to switch second-grade teachers and connected Zander with one that had a reputation of doing well with high-energy kids. Even though we didn’t disclose his ADHD to that new teacher, I checked in often to see how I could better support his learning and focus at home.

We also talked to Zander’s doctor about medication options for ADHD and they recommended QuilliChew ER (methylphenidate hydrochloride), a medication used to treat people 6 years and older with ADHD. QuilliChew ER is a prescription medicine in the form of a chewable tablet. We were told that QuilliChew ER 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.

QuilliChew ER is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep QuilliChew ER in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away QuilliChew ER 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.

When it came to my son’s schooling, I wanted to set up an end-of-the-year parent-teacher meeting, where I could ask my questions and hear how the teacher felt about having Zander as a student. We purposely scheduled the meeting for two weeks after my son had started on QuilliChew ER; we wanted to hear if there had been a noticeable difference in his behavior. Much to our delight, something had changed — so much so that his teacher told us she had to change what she had prepared to talk about with us! I was so happy to hear we had made the right choice for our boy, even if it took us around six years to try any sort of medication.

QuilliChew ER should not be taken if you are allergic to methylphenidate hydrochloride 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. QuilliChew ER 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). QuilliChew ER contains phenylalanine as a component of aspartame; aspartame may be harmful for people with phenylketonuria or those allergic to it. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or who become pregnant while taking QuilliChew ER, should talk to their doctor. Women should not breastfeed while taking QuilliChew ER as it passes into breast milk. See more safety information here.

We’ve been so lucky that QuilliChew ER has always just worked for Zander. It’s chewable, which makes it easier, since it was difficult for him to swallow pills. Plus, it’s cherry-flavored! I feel like it was luck that we stumbled upon QuilliChew ER as an option. The pediatrician happened to have some coupons during one of our visits. QuilliChew ER just worked pretty quickly for us. He started to need fewer reminders when there were multiple to-dos, and he was able to hold himself accountable more with small tasks like checking when he gets to a friend’s house.

Zander created a really great analogy to help us understand how different he feels while taking medication. He’s standing in the center of the clock, and all the numbers are different people trying to talk to him. Prior to starting QuilliChew ER, he couldn’t focus on what one number was saying over another, or which number was saying what. However, after he started the medication, he’s now able to identify if, say, I’m number 10, and I’m trying to talk to him. He can focus on me over any of the other “numbers” on his clock and recognize that it’s his mom speaking. 

As Zander gets older — he’s 12 years old now — we’ve also been able to adjust the time at which he takes his medication. Previously, he would take it early in the morning, but by the end of after-school practice, he struggled with things like drills. The day was simply getting too long between school and sports. With the approval of our pediatrician, we started giving it to him a little bit later, which was a better fit for him. 

It’s so wonderful for me to see my son thrive in the sports he loves. He’s big into soccer and lacrosse, and he also has the kindest heart on and off the field. He wants everyone to always be included, no matter what. I hope he never loses those parts of himself. He’s also not afraid to own ADHD as a part of his story as a young person, and as a mom, that’s very encouraging to see. The thing I would say to other parents is just be patient. There are days that are easy and days that are not so easy with every child, regardless if they live with ADHD or not. Everything comes full circle eventually, and it’s so important to just be patient with the process and give your child whatever they need to succeed. 


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 QuilliChew ER
  • 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 QuilliChew ER

QuilliChew ER 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 or your child have phenylketonuria (PKU). QuilliChew ER contains phenylalanine as part of the artificial sweetener, aspartame. The artificial sweetener may be harmful to people with PKU or who are allergic to phenylalanine
  • You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if QuilliChew ER will harm your unborn baby. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • You are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. QuilliChew ER passes into your breast milk. You and your doctor should decide if you will take QuilliChew ER or breastfeed

What should I avoid while taking QuilliChew ER? 
QuilliChew ER 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 QuilliChew ER. This may cause a faster release of your methylphenidate dose.

What are the possible side effects of QuilliChew ER?

QuilliChew ER may cause serious side effects, including:

  • See “What is the most important information I should know about QuilliChew ER?” 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 include:


Decreased appetite

Trouble sleeping






Stomach pain

Weight loss





Mood swings

Fast heart beat

Increased blood pressure

These are not all the possible side effects of QuilliChew ER.

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

What is QuilliChew ER?

QuilliChew ER is a central nervous system stimulant prescription medicines. QuilliChew ER is a chewable tablet. 

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

It is not known if QuilliChew ER is safe and effective in children under 6 years of age.

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

For more information about QuilliChew ER, please visit,

QuilliChew ER is a registered trademark of NextWave Pharmaceuticals.

©2021 Tris Pharma, Inc. All rights reserved. QUI.1027.PR      10/21

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