Many children take medications to help them focus their attention in school. It is a difficult decision to put a child on medications, but it can be extremely helpful for some children. Sometimes students don’t take their attention meds before school. At other times, parents allow their child to take a day off from taking it. It might be tempting to do when school is not in session, or there is a special event going on like field day.

I am not a doctor. I do not pretend to offer medical advice regarding the risks of missing prescribed medications. But I have observed my students through the years when they skip their regular dosage, and there can be consequences of making that decision.

For example, a student who normally arrives to class with his book, homework, notebook, and pencil ready to go might arrive without anything at all. Or a student might distract others around him and ask questions that have obvious answers (“Can we go outside instead of having class?”). Not only does he miss out on most of class, but he also keeps others from learning.

Even more important is the fact that there can be safety issues involved. I have seen students step out in front of moving cars, drive too quickly in the parking lot, jump off a rock wall, and even fall in a goldfish pond, possibly because they do impulsive things when they don’t take their attention medications.

Talk to your child’s doctor about whether it is appropriate to skip a dose of medication. If the doctor says it is OK, make sure to choose a time to skip it when safety and learning aren’t compromised. Additionally, if your child frequently forgets to take her meds before school, she might need your help to remember them. Because mornings can be pretty hectic getting everyone ready for work and school, it might be helpful to have a spare bottle kept in the clinic at school.

For more information, “Help Your ADHD Teen With Routine, Behavior, School" offers some excellent suggestions for parents of ADHD children.