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What Helps My Son With ADHD Be His Best Self

I always carry Tic-Tacs in my purse. No, it’s not because I need them to freshen my breath, but rather because of my son, Jack. As a mom to a kid with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I’ve learned a few special tricks, and using Tic-Tacs as a reward for taking his ADHD medication has become a solid routine for Jack and I over the past 10 years. 

Although he no longer needs the temptation of a minty piece of candy to take his medication, just bonding over our little morning ritual reminds me of how far we’ve come in managing his ADHD. My husband and I first noticed that something was different about Jack when he was about 2 years old. Instead of talking incessantly about all of the things that grab a 2-year-old’s attention like other kids his age, Jack was mostly non-verbal. We worked with specialists to help him become verbal around 3 years old but he still became frustrated at times, which he often expressed physically. 

When we were first referred to a pediatric psychiatrist, I was worried — was he too young to start taking medication for ADHD? At that point, Jack was still only 5 years old. Luckily, my best friend is a director of special education in a school district near me. She advised me to not run away from medication — to give it a chance. So we started our journey with medication and bought our first pack of Tic Tacs. 

As we were navigating through the medication world, we also worked on other changes to help Jack and one of our primary focuses was to get Jack into a school specialized for kids with learning disabilities like ADHD. If you’re a parent reading this story trying your best to get your child into specialized programs, I want you to know that for Jack, that fight was worth it. 

It wasn’t only a relief to have Jack in a program designed for students with learning disabilities like ADHD, but it was also an amazing experience for Jack to realize he’s not alone in living with ADHD. I’ve realized that I’m not alone either and that finding a community that “gets it” has really made a huge difference for us on our journey with ADHD. 

As we were figuring out his education, Jack was still trying different medications. Although they helped his focus in school, he did experience some side effects that still made ADHD difficult for him to manage. He wouldn’t be hungry or would have trouble sleeping. Sometimes he’d experience “come downs” after the medication wore off. But then we tried Quillivant XR (methylphenidate hydrochloride), a medication used to treat people 6 years and older with ADHD. From Jack’s doctor, we learned that Quillivant XR is a liquid medication that the doctor could adjust in small amounts depending on Jack’s response to treatment. He 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 saw a difference with Quillivant XR right away. He didn’t experience the side effects he did on previous medicationsHis behavior is more controlled so it’s easier for him to make friends, focus in school, and most importantly to Jack, it has helped him improve his free throw on his school’s basketball team.

I can honestly say pairing a supportive school program with Quillivant XR was a game-changer for us. Because the dose can be adjusted, we are able to make small changes to best fit Jacks’ needs. Another reason why we like Quillivant XR is because Jack’s still able to sleep easily at night. But more than anything else, we’re so happy he’s found something that helps him focus more on things he loves, like basketball and music.

Qullivant XR should not be taken if you are allergic to amphetamine 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.

As a parent of a kid with ADHD, you will probably have some trial and error to find what works best for your child. In the past 10 years, we’ve certainly found what didn’t work for Jack, but we’ve also been able to see what has really improved his behavior and focus. For us, combining Quillivant XR with specialized education has been the key to success for Jack. It’s OK to do whatever helps your child succeed and be their best selves, even if that includes taking medication. It doesn’t make you a worse parent. And if that treatment plan also includes a box of Minions-themed Tic-Tacs, know that you’re not alone. 


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, 

QuillivantXR is a registered trademark of NextWave Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

© 2020 Tris Pharma, Inc. All rights reserved.  QUI.635.PR     10/20

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