Please know that Adderall XR is only one of the possible options, and it's not for everyone.
Your physician should be working to make the best selection of options and trying each at a low dose, slowly increasing.
Also, please know that the majority of adults and children with ADHD have a co-existing condition (anxiety, depression, sleep disorder, etc.). So, these need to be addressed as well when making medication decisions. The stimulants (but especially Adderall, in my opinion) can exacerbate anxiety/depression if those aren't also being addressed.
Please read up on the medication choices. The only way you can know if you are getting good care is by educating yourself first. If you know more than the physician, you might want to keep looking.
My book is for adults, but the guidelines for medication are generally the same for children. it's called "Is It You, Me, or adult A.D.D."? I offer it only because it's hard to find "real world" guidelines about medication. So many books say, "Talk to your doctor." Well, what if your doctor is not as expert as he or she should be?
First, congratulations for making the connection from your lifelong "classic" challenges to ADHD. It sounds like a fit, but of course a physical evaluation (to rule out other causes) and a psychiatric examination are in order.
re: Sleep. Actually, sleep apnea and asthma are both associated with ADHD. The physiological pathways are uncertain but perhaps they share the dopamine challenges.
For some people, a low dose of stimulant medication at night helps them to sleep. For others, it might exacerbate co-existing anxiety.
For symptoms of this nature, ones that you have dealt with your entire life, I would say that any "alternatives" that might have worked would have occurred to you by now.
Of course, a good diet is important -- fewer refined carbs and sugars, protein in the morning with good fats, and smaller meals throughout the day to better regulate blood sugar. Adequate nutrition in terms of vitamins and minerals is important, too. So, look into a good multivitamin/mineral.
Getting good sleep can be a challenge for people with ADHD not taking medication. And those not taking medication really vary in the alternatives that might work for them. One person's "peaceful meditation tape" can be another's "exercise in agony."
I've written more about sleep here (where you can read many comments from adults with ADHD):
I've had mothers tell me they could sense "hyperactivity" in the womb.
ADHD does not just "descend" upon a person.
It might not be obvious at earlier ages, especially if symptoms are mild. But it is there early on, unless the ADHD is caused by some type of trauma or injury.
Symptoms will express in "age appropriate" ways. Obviously, a baby or toddler is not going to be seen as having trouble reading, following instructions, or remembering important details. Instead, ADHD symptoms might express in the baby having difficulty focusing on faces, being able to self-sooth, sleep well, and similar.
A toddler might be more emotionally dysregulated, reacting with outsize emotions as not being allowed to do something, or more prone to staring at the TV because it provides high stimulation. There are many examples of how ADHD can "show up" very early.
I've not heard of Strattera being used for the cognitive issues that can follow brain trauma. The stimulants, however, are often used in such cases and even in instances of "chemo fog" from cancer chemotherapy.
The stimulants include medications such as Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse, and the like.
Your physician should be able to explain to you the rationale for trying Strattera for your son.
Strattera is a medication that was developed as an anti-depressant but found to have little effectiveness. It was later adopted for its usefulness in treating certain symptoms of ADHD.
In my personal experience, from talking to many adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, it helps less than the stimulants do when it comes to focus, concentration, etc. It does seem to help more with mood issues and sleep.
Some published literature, however, on Strattera shows it as being effective for ADHD symptoms.
So, the answer is: It helps some people and doesn't help others.
You are about to lose your job, you say, and your young son has been diagnosed with ADHD.
This is not the time for tips for "trying to manage it." This is the time for some serious attention what might be a lifelong manifestation of ADHD in your life.
Please consult the physician who diagnosed your son and ask where you can get an evaluation.
For many people with ADHD who describe symptoms such as yours, there is not going to be a "therapy" for resolving them. The inability to focus, pay attention, follow directions, etc. are neurocognitive symptoms best addressed by physical strategies, including medication, good diet, sleep, and exercise.
Of course, everyone needs the last three, but people with ADHD often have a hard time regulating those activities due to...untreated ADHD's problems around organization, initiation, motivation, etc.
So, please don't let your ADHD trick you into thinking that you'll "figure this out" or you'll find a website with some handy tips that will miraculously improve your life.
You cannot procrastinate on this, as you seem to realize by writing this question. Your child depends on you to get your own ADHD under control, so you can help him. Studies show that parents with untreated ADHD have more problems parenting effectively, especially when the child has ADHD.
So, please do as the flight attendants say and "put on your oxygen mask first" so you can help yourself and your child.
I appreciate that you are enjoying what you perceive as increased brain function. That's always welcome!
I would caution you, though, about conducting grand-scale experiments on your brain and about the changes in perception that such substances can create (hint: they aren't always accurate).
Still, I know many adults with ADHD who have resorted to marijuana for various reasons, none of which are "for kicks" but because they perceive real benefit.
I would encourage you to look into other methods of improving your brain function, though. Some people with ADHD are more impaired by the crushing anxiety accompanying it; for them, marijuana seems to quell that anxiety and free them to be more functional.
Still, even those people risk impaired brain function over time.
I've heard of Charlotte's Web and its alleged impact on seizure disorders. For children who have been treated with more benign methods, to no success, it sounds like a lifesaver.
But for ADHD anxiety, there are MANY other avenues to pursue before you resort to a highly experimental "last resort."
You can make dietary and exercise changes, and you could look into amino acid supplementation as well as vitamin/mineral deficiencies and food sensitivities. All these changes will serve you better in the long run, and not just in terms of brain function but whole-body function.
If all that enough, it's worth looking into medications for ADHD, prescribed carefully and monitored closely. These are well-studied medications that, when taken appropriately, have a very low risk profile, especially in terms of liver damage.