Has your child been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? If so, like many other parents, you may be struggling with how to best treat your child’s symptoms. These decisions are often complicated, scary, and stressful.
A lot of information on ADHD exists online and this can lead parents in different directions, unsure of what treatment is best for their child. The good news is that researchers are learning more about ADHD all the time. We know a lot more today about how to help children with ADHD thrive at home, at school, and socially with friends.
Most children with ADHD ages 4-17 are receiving either medication or behavioral therapy for the disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gives this advice to healthcare providers, psychologists, educators, and parents of children with ADHD:
For preschoolers ages 4-5 with ADHD, use behavioral therapy before medication.
For older children and teens with ADHD, use behavioral therapy along with medication.
Effective behavioral therapy for children with ADHD involves parent training and education. This therapy helps to improve child behavior by building parenting skills, improving the relationship between parents and their child with ADHD, and helping children manage their own behaviors. Behavioral therapy is an important part of treatment for children with ADHD of all ages, and it is the most appropriate treatment for children under the age of 6.
It can often be challenging to find behavioral therapy or other psychological resources. CDC encourages healthcare providers, psychologists, and educators to familiarize themselves with the available psychological resources in their communities in order to best guide patients and their families. Also, amidst all of the information available, we encourage families to look for evidence-based information (facts, not myths) from credible sources. Discuss with your child’s healthcare provider the treatment options consistent with AAP guidelines, including behavioral therapy.
The National Resource Center on ADHD, a program from the group, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), can help. This organization, funded by CDC, is the national clearinghouse for the latest evidence-based information on ADHD. They provide comprehensive information and support to individuals with ADHD, their families and friends, and the professionals involved in their lives.
A review of effective treatments for preschoolers by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is here.
Parents are part of the solution, too. Collectively, the child, parents, educators, therapists, and healthcare providers are a team in supporting each child in their quest for long-term health and well-being. Make sure your child gets what is best!