ADHD: To medicate or not?

Dr. Kevin T. Kalikow
Dr. Kevin T. Kalikow

Dr. Kevin T. Kalikow, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author, will discuss the complexities of pharmacological treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and coexisting conditions in Wilton Library’s Brubeck Room on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 10 to noon.

Kalikow, who has been practicing child psychiatry in private practice for 30 years, said he knows “parents are kind of on the horns of a dilemma” when it comes to medicating their children, and he looks forward to teaching and providing them with information they need in order to  make “what is inherently a somewhat difficult decision.”

In addition to practicing child psychiatry, Kalikow teaches at New York Presbyterian Hospital and is a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at New York Medical College. He not only speaks widely on the use of psychiatric medication in children and adolescents, but has also written several books on the subject.

During his “Medication, Not Magic: Making Wise Choices about Pharmacological Interventions” talk, Kalikow will discuss the indications for medication, whether or not parents should give psychiatric drugs to their children or adolescents — and, if so, when; potential benefits and risks; and ethical dilemmas.

Not only will Kalikow provide parents with “a background in the different medicines used for ADHD” and “a way of deciding whether or not medicine is right for their child,” he said, but he’ll also talk about ADHD itself, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as “a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors.”

“I’ll be talking about what ADHD is, what causes it, and what the difficulties with ADHD are [before] getting into how you treat ADHD,” said Kalikow.

“Some parents have misconceptions about what ADHD is or what causes ADHD, and other parents have misconceptions about what the risks and benefits of medicine are. I think that there's going to be a lot that people will learn.”

During his talk, Kalikow will discuss complexities related to treating ADHD, including comorbidity — the simultaneous presence of two conditions.

While “some kids have pretty straightforward ADHD,” Kalikow said, “many kids have ADHD along with oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD along with anxiety disorder, ADHD along with depression, or ADHD along with a learning disability.”

Kalikow’s talk is part of Wilton Youth Council parent information series and is co-sponsored by SPED*NET Wilton, Wilton Youth Services, and Wilton Library.

Upcoming parent information series programs include:

  • Mindful Parenting with Tracey Masella, LCSW, on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

  • The Physiology of Addiction with Dr. Ruth Potee on Thursday, March 7.

  • The Pressure to be Perfect with Dr. Alicia Farrell on Wednesday, March 20.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is highly recommended by visiting or calling 203-762-6334.

To learn more about Wilton Youth Council’s parent education events, visit