When their child is diagnosed with ADHD, parents often have concerns about deciding the best way to help their child. It is important for parents to remember that ADHD can be successfully managed. There are many treatment options, so parents should work closely with everyone involved in the child’s life—healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help parents guide their child towards success.
This information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides you with information about treatment options for ADHD:
For children 6 years of age and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends both behavior therapy and medication as good options, preferably both together. For young children (under 6 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy is recommended as the first line of treatment, before medication is tried. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring of whether and how much the treatment helps the child’s behavior, and making changes as needed along the way. See the recommendations page to learn more about the AAP recommendations for treatment of children with ADHD,
Research shows that behavior 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 other children. Children with ADHD often show behaviors that can be very disruptive to others. Behavior therapy is a treatment option that can help reduce these behaviors. It is often helpful to start behavior therapy as soon as a diagnosis is made.
The goals of behavior therapy are to learn or strengthen positive behaviors and eliminate unwanted or problem behaviors. Behavior therapy can include behavior therapy training for parents, behavior therapy with children, or a combination. Teachers can also use behavior therapy to help reduce problem behaviors in the classroom.
The 2011 clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that doctors prescribe behavior therapy as the first line of treatment for preschool-aged children (4–5 years of age) with ADHD. Parent training in behavior therapy has the most evidence of being effective, but teachers and early childhood caregivers can use behavior therapy in the classroom as well.
Behavior therapy is an important first step because:
For children over the age of 6, behavior therapy is an important part of treatment. The AAP recommends behavior therapy together with medication. The type of therapy that is effective for young children, parent training in behavior therapy, may also be effective for children with disruptive behavior through age 12.
Research evidence points to the effectiveness of several types of behavior therapies for older children:
Medication can help children with ADHD in their everyday life, and medication treatment may be an effective way to manage ADHD symptoms. Medication is an option that may help control some of the behavior problems that have led to trouble in the past with family, friends and at school.
Several different types of medications are FDA-approved to treat ADHD in children:
More information on treatments is available from the following sources:
CDC funds the National Resource Center on ADHD (NRC), a program of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) The NRC provides resources, information, and advice for parents on how to help their child. Learn more about their services.