Treatment Approaches for ADHD in Children
You have been informed by a healthcare provider that your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). So what are the next steps now? While there is no cure for ADHD, treatment is available and will help reduce some of the troublesome behavioral symptoms your child experiences. Typical ADHD interventions for children fall into three categories: primary, intensive and additional. The most effective ADHD treatment plan is one taking a multidisciplinary approach including several different treatment modes that are applied simultaneously.
Reducing behavioral symptoms of ADHD is the principle goal of primary treatment, which encompasses stimulant medication therapy, Parent Management Training (PMT) and educational interventions. While several different drug types have been approved for treating ADHD, stimulants have been most effective in the management of ADHD symptoms. As medication addresses the biological issues of the disorder, PMT works to educate the parents and caregivers of the ADHD child, helping them to manage discipline problems in the home. Raising a child with ADHD can be stressful and exhausting for parents, as the usual means of disciplining are ineffective. PMT then educates and trains parents on how to handle difficult behaviors that may arise.
The purpose of educational interventions are to manage ADHD symptoms that may interfere with the learning process. Like PMT, teachers set goals that are realistic, and use a reward-based system honoring instances of goal completion and on-task behaviors. When the child demonstrates disruptive behaviors he or she is penalized with a loss of privileges, tokens or given a time-out period. Using these techniques are very effective in controlling ADHD behaviors in the educational setting and helps improve academic achievement.
With an intensive treatment approach, the focus is to apply primary interventions as well as some additional modes. The goal here is to build upon educational successes at school while increasing home behavioral adjustments for the long-term. This would commonly occur in a summer ADHD treatment program in a camp setting. Here the child has opportunities to strengthen peer relationships outside of the classroom, while continuing to maintain academic gains. Medication therapy, counseling and PMT continue to be implemented.
Psychotherapy and counseling of the individual child as well as meeting with the client’s family is the principal focus of additional treatment. This would also include participation in a support group for family members raising an ADHD child. Support groups provide opportunities to share information and successes with others, as well as to discuss feelings openly concerning frustrations and future plans. Groups for children with ADHD are also available.
There are no fast cures with ADHD treatment, and there are no one-size-fits-all approaches because each child diagnosed with ADHD is different. What works for one particular child, may not be effective with another. It is essential to work closely with your child’s health care professional and therapist to ensure a good success.