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Moronacity Health Journal » Neurological and Behavioral


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment

By Diane Ursu
Symptoms of attention deficit disorder include the inability to sit still and focus.  Photo:  United States Federal GovernmentTreating ADHD is an individualized process that requires observation and possibly even trial and error. A medical exam helps to determine whether a child’s symptoms are due to physical impairments, such as vision or hearing loss. Parents and teachers are often asked to fill out questionnaires about a child’s behavior to help diagnose ADHD. While there is no cure for ADHD, there is treatment. ADHD medications are classified into two groups: stimulants and non-stimulants.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Medications

Ironically, stimulants calm children with ADHD and improve their ability to focus and learn. Each medication may come in several forms, all with the same active ingredient, but the delivery method chosen is determined by the individual child’s needs. A child with ADHD may be treated with one of the following stimulants: amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, and methylphenidate.

Side Effects of Medications for ADHD

Children may experience side effects when taking stimulant medications. These side effects may subside over time or with a lower dosage of the medication.

Decreased appetite is a common side effect with stimulant medications. Parents should monitor the child to make sure that he or she is eating an appropriate amount of food, and that height and weight are normal.

Sleep problems are also a common side effect. It is important to have a regular bedtime and sleep routine to encourage regular sleep. Medication type, dosage, and timing may be changed in an effort to promote healthy sleep. Other medications such as antidepressants or clonidine, a blood pressure medication, may also be used.

Less common side effects include stomachaches, irritability, and anxiety. According to “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Medications,” by the National Institute of Health, the FDA requires Patient Medication Guides to warn that “medications may lead to possible cardiovascular (heart and blood) or psychiatric problems, …such as hearing voices, having hallucinations, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic (an overly high mood), even in patients without a history of psychiatric problems.”

Currently, no cure exists for ADHD. Current medications treat the symptoms so that the child can function socially and educationally. Medications may be periodically adjusted to accommodate any changes as the child grows and develops.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Behavioral Therapy

Developing habits is useful for keeping a person with ADHD on track. Follow the same routine, every day, including waking up and going to bed at the same times every day. Combat forgetfulness by keeping everything in the same place so the child can find things more easily.

Focus on one activity at a time. For example, turn off the television and the radio during homework time. Limit choices to only two at a time, such as offering a choice of playing with only one of two toys, instead of one of five.

“Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and cajoling, use clear, brief directions to remind your child of responsibilities,” recommends the Centers for Disease Control in their article, “Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Facts.”

“Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child’s efforts. Be sure the goals are realistic—baby steps are important!” Effectively discipline your child with time-outs and removal of privileges. Of course, this is only effective if you are consistent with disciplinary actions. No means no. Do not change your mind. Use a time-out if your child does not accept your answer.

Help your child discover what he or she is good at, and cultivate that talent. Explore different sports, dance, art, and other interests.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Parent Training

Raising a child with ADHD can be challenging and much unlike raising children without the disorder. Parents should schedule parent education either through a therapist or through special classes. Visit Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) to learn more about parent education.

While there is no cure for ADHD, it is manageable. Work with a physician to determine which and how much medication is best. Keep track of any side effects and develop a firm schedule to help the child develop habits. Talk with the child’s school about the disorder, and engage in ADHD parent training.


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