Hi doctor.

My name is J.W. I am 16 right now and in the 11th grade. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was in the 3rd grade and began taking Ritalin. I took it for a couple of years and then one summer I just stopped taking it and I was fine. My question is was I misdiagnosed. I thought that you don't grow out of this disorder. I feel myself now having some problems concentrating when I read and I was wondering if I needed to start back on the medicine again. If not, how can people just grow out of it? I am really confused and I would like to get the correct information. I am a straight A student so I'm not suffering in my school work. I just feel like I have a lot of trouble concentrating on reading especially. Can you please tell me what's goin' on? Thanks alot.

I don't know J. Does one "have" ADD like a broken bone or diabetes? I suppose you were born with a personality that perhaps makes it difficult for you to stick with things you find boring or difficult. However, depending upon what you are doing, learning, how motivated you are you may find you do quite well enough without any medication. I believe you said you stopped the medication during the summer when it is likely the academic demands on you were less. Now you have to read and you find it is more difficult for you to concentrate (but you still get A's which many people would envy). It is possible you have to work harder and longer to get those A's because of your attentional problem. However, you'll have to decide whether taking a stimulant again is worth it. As one gets older their ability to attend increases. However, often the demands go up.

I know that these days we are told if you have ADHD you have it for life and that you'll have to take Ritalin also. I don't find in the kids I see that that's how it's working out. As they get out of high school they are more able to choose the things they want to do so they are more motivated and don't need the medication. However, some want to remain in an academic setting (college) even it that's not where their main interest and skills are. They become candidates for medication. So if you're doing well enough don't worry about ADD. But if you're struggling enough I suppose you can take the medication again or reconsider whether this is really what you want to be doing right now. Good luck.