The Drug Journal

Are you afraid of stimulant medication for your ADHD child?  Does the thought of an anti-depressant for a 9-year-old make you cringe?  This post is about a tool I named a “drug journal.”  It was incredibly helpful while we worked through the trial and error stage of ADHD medication and dosing with my then third grader.

(Post was updated September, 2021)

To Medicate, or Not to Medicate?

If you want background on why I did, then didn’t, medicate my son, read this.  We all have different body chemistry and ranges of ADHD symptom severity to manage.  This is a place to learn and share, not judge or shame.


The path of choosing a medication and dosage for our ADHD children (or selves) is a JOURNEY.  It’s a long, tumultuous road.  

Parent-Teacher Communication

The Drug Journal was a helpful tool my son’s teacher and I used to communicate the effectiveness of medication.  In the morning I might write in the homework section of his planner—“started a new dose, any behavioral changes?”  In the afternoons, Ms. P would “sign” his planner—which is an ADHD accommodation you should request if needed.  When she signed for homework check she would add “focused during PM centers” or “weepy and tired during AM warm-up.”  

The first day of meds she wrote a separate LETTER commending B on his ability to complete work, help others and even organize her library!  Rookie mistake to celebrate because I soon learned B  was living the “placebo effect.” 🙁

How to Use the Journal

Beyond the placebo effect, the planner was a blessing.  I took it to doctor’s appointments and school team/counselor meetings.  My son jotted down his overall rating of the school day.  We used a 1-10 scale (1-no difference, 5-felt balanced and productive, 10-felt jittery, tired, comatose, or like crying—some emotional extreme).  

Here are 3 steps for making the Drug Journal your own:

  • You need the teacher to be on board.  Sell teachers on “ALWAP” or AS LITTLE WORK AS POSSIBLE. Hopefully, you have a teacher who takes the time to write comments (even a few words like, “couldn’t find his hmwk, tapped pencil all during math, or tired in the PM” is enough to help you make dosage decisions).
  • Have your child (if they are old enough) give a number rating of the day.  She should rate the day BEFORE the teacher writes anything. We are all easily swayed by the power of suggestion.
  • If you don’t have a good (or any) relationship with the teacher you can still request this type of feedback in their planner.  Most elementary school teachers know it’s part of their job description to identify possible ADHD students-they are versed in what to look for and how to communicate with parents.  If your teacher is unresponsive or unaware of this process the school counselor can get him up to speed with your prompting, if necessary. 

I hope you’re looking forward to a new year of learning with your child.  Even if your child is not taking medication, a communication journal between parent, student, and the teacher is a valuable tool!

Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog:

2 thoughts on “The Drug Journal

  1. Nicole,
    You give very good advice in the process. Your recommendation for a daily journal is spot on – it is immensely important to get both the teachers perspective and the child’s feelings as well. My oldest son had to go through 3 medicines before we found the correct one for him. It is a process that may take months so anyone trying medicine for their child needs to be patient.


    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and sharing your experience. You remind parents that we’re not alone during the process! 🙏


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