The Taboo Topic: Medication at Church for Kids With ADHD (Part Two)


This is the eighth post in our Fall Series: ADHD and Spiritual Development: Strategies for Parents and Church Leaders

Last Sunday, we looked at the issues connected with the use (or lack thereof) of medication for kids with ADHD during church activities. Today, we’re going to discuss the issue from the perspective of the children’s/student ministry pastor or key volunteer.

Allow me to digress for a moment and spell out why the issue of medication is such a big deal at church. Because medication is the single most effective stand-alone treatment for ADHD and the therapeutic effects of the medications used to treat ADHD are very short-lived, the child’s experience in church on a day to day or week to week basis may be highly contingent upon their medication status.

The children’s/student ministry leadership will generally be “flying blind” when it comes to serving kids with ADHD. For reasons of stigma that we’ve discussed in earlier posts, parents of kids with ADHD probably won’t disclose their child’s condition to the ministry team and are even less likely to discuss their child’s medication status. As we discussed on Sunday, it’s simply not appropriate for church staff or volunteers to jump to conclusions about a child’s diagnosis or treatment needs without the proper professional training and credentials and absent a complete evaluation. The willingness of the church to welcome and serve all of these kids and their families regardless of their medication status should be unconditional.

The bottom line is that there’s a big pool of kids out there for whom their needs for support in church will vary greatly from week to week, or from activity to activity. The parent who gives their kid his medicine two hours before leaving for church may not send medication along for a weekend retreat. The kid who does well at 11 AM may not have the same self control at 8:00 PM.

So what’s a children’s/student ministry leader to do? We want the kids and their families to have a great experience without placing too great a burden on outstanding volunteers and group leaders. After all, excellent volunteers are almost as hard to find as victory parades through downtown Cleveland. We also want the other kids in a ministry environment to have a great experience without their ability to learn compromised by a kid exhibiting lots of disruptive behavior.

One strategy to consider involves training a small group of floating “buddies” who are available to provide some 1:1 attention to kids who may not need a regular support person but are disrupting a class or a small group on an infrequent basis.  Having a few extra volunteers available on an “as-needed” basis who can spend 1:1 time with any kids who have “issues” and lend an extra pair of hands for your volunteer teachers leaves you prepared to serve guests and visitors who may have a kid with special needs or issues with self-control.

Coming Friday: The Taboo Topic: Talking About Medication at Church for Kids With ADHD…The physician’s perspective

Coming Sunday: Discipleship Strategies for Kids and Teens With ADHD

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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3 Responses to The Taboo Topic: Medication at Church for Kids With ADHD (Part Two)

  1. Dotty Young says:

    I have just met you, and I LOVE YOU!!!

    (Would that be the hyperactive or impulsive symptom coming out? Either way, I MEAN IT!)

    I have ADHD, and I’m friends with (and mentored by, and sometimes work for) a wonderful author on ADHD and relationships, Gina Pera. Her book, “Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD?” should be required reading for anyone in the church who’s counseling people in relationships. The adult symptoms can be so different from childhood symptoms!

    The blog series I write for her at should be up soon, where I talk about our family’s journey through our ADHD diagnosis, and the helpful/unhelpful things our faith community told us through the process. You can read a thumbnail sketch of our journey here:

    I’m also a worship leader, currently in the Christian Missionary & Alliance church. That thing about “all the kids performing have ADHD?” PRICELESS! The posts on the spiritual disciplines with ADHD were also spot-on. I feel closest to God when I’m singing His praises, or vigorously defending him w/ writing.

    Thanks for everything you’re doing here.


    • Dotty Young says:

      Um, and we’re in Ashland, OH!! 🙂 I just realized you aren’t terribly far from us! 🙂


    • drgrcevich says:

      Hi Dotty,

      We definitely need to get together. My neighbor across the street (Karen Sunderhaft) has also served as a contributor to Additude magazine.

      I see lots of stuff sprouting up in the C&MA. Will definitely check out the Additude piece.


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