Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ADHD Medication: Can Your Child Go Without? Behavioral therapy for ADHD—and parent retraining, too—can be good alternatives to medication

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be a distressing diagnosis, but families have more treatment options than they might realize. Although Ritalin and other stimulant drugs are the most common prescription, ADHD treatments that don't involve medication have a proven track record. And here's a surprise: One of the most beneficial options treats the parents, not the child. For children, skills training programs and ADHD summer camps can help teach techniques to overcome everyday problems that often make life miserable, such as remembering to bring assignments home from school or to listen without interrupting.

How training parents helps the child. Parent skills training has been used for years to improve the behavior of children, and multiple clinical trials have validated its effectiveness. Those same programs improve the behavior of kids with ADHD. Although it may seem odd to be changing parents' behavior to treat what's considered a medical condition in children, research has found that for children with ADHD, having parents who use effective parenting techniques is one of the best predictors of success in adulthood. These programs teach parents to make clear, specific requests of children, for instance, and to use praise and rewards for good behavior far more often than punishment.


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