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ADHD treatment options

Jayne Matthews Hopson | 5/23/2014, 11:07 a.m.
Education Matters continues the series on special education.

Education Matters continues the series on special education. This week focuses on treatment options for ADHD. Parents and guardian should be aware that their child’s teacher or guidance counselor will often be the first to raise concerns a student is ADHD. However, ADHD is a neurological condition that requires a diagnosis from a physician. While your child’s school may suspect ADHD, only a medical doctor is equipped to conduct the proper assessments, make a diagnosis, and determine which, if any medications to prescribe.

The following information is offered to give parents an overview of treatments and other remediation options that are available to help your child reach his or her full academic potential. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) is the primary source of information for this article.

Once a child has been diagnosed with ADHD parents are faced figuring out what to do next. It is important to remember that while ADHD can't be cured, it can be successfully managed. There are many treatment options, so parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child's treatment— teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help you guide your child towards success.

Remember, you are your child’s strongest advocate! In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.

Treatment for ADHD falls into three categories: behavioral therapy, medications and parental support therapy.

Research shows that behavioral therapy is an important part of treatment for children with ADHD. ADHD affects not only a child’s ability to pay attention or sit still at school, it also affects relationships with family and how well they do in their classes. Behavioral therapy is the option that can help reduce these problems for children and should be started as soon as a diagnosis is made. Following are examples that might help with your child’s behavioral therapy:

•Create a routine. Try to follow the same schedule every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.

•Get organized. Schoolbags, clothing and toys in the same place every day so your child will be less likely to lose them.

•Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, and computer, especially when your child is doing homework.

•Limit choices. Offer a choice between two things (this outfit, meal, toy, etc., or that one) so that your child isn't overwhelmed and over stimulated.

•Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and cajoling, use clear, brief directions to remind your child of responsibilities.

•Use goals and rewards. Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child's efforts. Be sure the goals are realistic— baby steps are important!

•Discipline effectively. Instead of yelling or spanking, use timeouts or removal of privileges as consequences for inappropriate behavior.

•Help your child discover a talent. All kids need to experience success to feel good about themselves. Finding out what your child does well— whether it's sports, art, or music— can boost social skills and self-esteem.