From Adderall to Vyvanse

For the past couple of years Rian’s been taking Adderall to help combat her ADHD symptoms, especially focus issues. She’s been complaining for about a year now that it wasn’t helpin, but I didn’t believe her. Her mood swings were epic and her focus was still off, but I trusted the doctors who said that was normal “teen behaviour” and to keep using the Adderall for the ADHD.

Earlier this year we saw a new pediatrician, Dr. B., who suggested Rian see a psychologist to be assessed for Asperger Syndrome. Some of you may remember back in November of 2011 (We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming) that Rian was tested for Asperger’s at CPRI (Child and Parent Research Institute) and was found to NOT have Asperger’s.

From Surviving the Madhouse: My daughter attended the Autism Screening Clinic at CRPI a couple of months ago. The testing was held in the bowels of the Crombie building on the CPRI campus. The woman who conducted the interview led us through labyrinthine corridors to a room that was split in two. One half held a sofa, a couple of chairs, a loveseat and a coffee table, all very suave. The other half was an observation room behind two-way glass. Rian was very curious about this room as she had never seen two-glass before other than on TV and she was fascinated by it. I reluctantly allowed her to check it out during break.  O.K., I must admit it, I was very curious too. There were a few chairs and a table in that room. It was very utilitarian, but the two-way glass was pretty cool.

The testing took a few hours and consisted of question after question. It was draining. I was impressed my ADHD kid could sit through it without bouncing off the walls. I, on the other hand, am please to say I managed to stay awake, barely. After the interview was completed the interviewer retired to her office to write up her report. When she returned she went over the report in detail for me. Basically it said that although Rian has many difficulties, both emotionally and socially, she did not see where any of Rian’s behaviours/symptoms fell on the ASD scale. What that means for us is Rian does not have Asperger Syndrome. Woo-hoo! Now, what do we do about the problems she does have? Well, no answers that day, but we’re still working on it.

Despite this previous result I agreed to have her reassessed so 0ff we went to see Dr. J. After a couple of appointments with the fast-talking Dr. J. (he could rival an auctioneer) I received the report – Rian has been officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level One (ASD Level 1) (he’s also classed her as gifted, having an IQ over 130…wish her grades reflected her intellectual potential). Asperger’s (see below) was removed from the most recent DSM as an official diagnosis.

Asperger from Wikipedia: Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger disorder (AD), is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical (peculiar, odd) use of language are frequently reported.[1][2]

About the DSM From Wikipedia: DSM-5 (formerly known as DSM-V) is the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In the United States the DSM serves as a universal authority for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. Treatment recommendations, as well as payment by health care providers, are often determined by DSM classifications, so the appearance of a new version has significant practical importance.

The DSM-5 was published on May 18, 2013, superseding the DSM-IV-TR, which was published in 2000.

Anyway, so apparently doctors don’t always agree on their diagnoses. Who knew? I don’t even care about the diagnosis. I care that she can get some extra help with her social skills (does the name Sheldon mean anything to anyone? Ok, she’s not that bad, but she’s close).

One of the things that Dr. J. noticed was that Rian’s focus was still off despite being on Adderall. Adderall is meant to help kids with ADHD regain their focus. With Dr. M’s approval (yes, she has that many doctors, crazy, I know) I took her off Adderall and she has been going without ADHD meds almost all summer. Guess what? The only difference we noticed was she wasn’t as moody, but there was NO difference in her focus.

After our last visit with Dr. M (who doesn’t think Rian has ASD level 1 either *eyes rolling*) he suggested Vyvanse for her focus issues. Apparently Vyvanse is the medication du jour right now for ADHD. She started it yesterday and I’m going to give it a month. If there’s no difference in her focus we have one more avenue to try. Guess what it is?


Believe it or not, coffee has a calming effect on people with ADHD. I wonder where I can buy it in bulk.
Image courtesy of


About Holly

I hope you're able to glean something from this blog, a nugget of wisdom, a new perspective, a smile or even a laugh. I enjoy getting feedback so please comment, share your story with me too. After all, we're here to help each other.
This entry was posted in ADHD, anger management, anxiety, children's mental health, coping strategies, GAD, Mental health, OCD, parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to From Adderall to Vyvanse

  1. I know everyone is different, but I do want to let you know that my son was on Vyvanse about four years ago (it was pretty new then, I believe) for a (mis)diagnosis of ADHD. The doctor took him off it cold turkey. We could barely wake him for three days and he developed suicidal thoughts. He spent a week in an acute care facility, all because of coming off Vyvanse so quickly. There are many similar stories like his. I’m not trying to scare you, but just be careful with this drug. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you. I wish someone had warned us…………

  2. It good that Rian has been listening to her body and knew that the meds weren’t working the same, I think that’s a great sign! I hate all the differing opinions though, that has to be so frustrating!

    • Holly says:

      It is very frustrating. I’m going with my gut and Rian’s gut on this one. She feels so much better with the diagnosis, like her social differences are explained and it’s not because she’s a “weirdo”.

      • I’m kinda with her! And I’m sure that several of my friends would love to be able to look at the people next to us when my social skills are struggling and be able to shrug and spout off a medical condition!

        LOL – I’m kidding – I really am with her, it’s nice to be able to say “okay, this is it, now I know and now I can deal with it.”

      • Holly says:

        Exactly! Now that we know the therapists and teachers can use different strategies with her. I hope she’ll have an even better year this year now that we know.

  3. It is so hard to find the right medicines. It sounds like this is a better mix for Rian and results are improved. That’s great.

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