A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks at the best way to treat young children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD.
ADHD is a biological disorder that causes hyperactivity, impulsivity and attention problems in children. Currently, there are two million children who are diagnosed with the disorder before the age of six and the vast majority of them are treated with medication.
The findings are from a recent study by psychologist Dr. William E. Pelham, director for the Center of the Children and Families at FIU, which provides evidence that utilizing behavior therapy as the first step is effective and works without the side effects of medication. It may take more time and effort, but it works better, lasts longer and is even more cost-effective than treating with ADHD medicine first.
Here are five things Pelham suggests every parent should know about ADHD:
- Parents need training, too
Dr. Pelham recommends that once a diagnosis of ADHD is made, parents should find a therapist who not only can help the child but also give them helpful parenting strategies and tools to treat the disorder in real life settings.
- Schools are key
Teachers can use the same sorts of strategies as parents to help diagnosed children, such as using “time-out” for any rule-breaking behaviors in school as well as reinforcing positive actions.
- Play better to live better
Teaching the child skills to get along better with other children, making friends, learning how to participate in sports activities are fundamental and essential skills that are part of behavioral therapy. The added benefit is they come without the side effects of ADHD medications.
- Know the goal
“The goal of treatment is not to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, but to improve the problems in daily life functioning that brought the child to the parents, teachers, and professionals in the first place, “Dr. Pelham states.
- The first step is not ADHD meds
“Medication should be used at best as an adjunct to behavioral therapy. Providing medication as a first line treatment undermines the parent’s motivation and willingness to engage in behavioral treatment” Pelham says.
Read the full article on TODAY.