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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD: Inattentive Type

Behavioral Therapy for ADHD continued...

Clear instructions. Give very clear, simple instructions.

Organization. Organize your child's clothes and schoolwork so that they are always in the same place and easy to find.

Routine. Get into a routine. Having a sense of order and routine helps inattentive children stay focused. Follow the same schedule every day -- get dressed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, put on your coat. Post the schedule in a central place, such as the kitchen or main hallway of your house.

Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV, computer, radio, and video games at home. Ask that your child be seated away from the windows and door at school.

Rewards. Give your child a reward for finishing his homework or other responsibilities. You might offer to take a trip to the zoo or go on an outing for frozen yogurt.

Medication to Treat ADHD

Your doctor may recommend medication to treat your child's ADHD.

The drug class most often used to treat all types of ADHD is called a "stimulant." Stimulant medicines include:

These drugs work by altering the way nerve cells in the brain "talk" to one another. They can help children with inattentive ADHD focus better.

Stimulants come in these forms:

  • Pill
  • Capsule
  • Liquid
  • Skin patch

Some drugs are in an extended-release form. When your child takes them in the morning, the effects last through the entire school day.

Stimulant drugs don't work for every child with ADHD. You may have to try different medicines until you find the one that changes your child's behavior. Stimulant drugs can also have side effects, including:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Tics
  • Heart and psychiatric problems (rare)

While taking stimulant drugs, your child should have height, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate checked regularly.

Other drugs that are used to treat ADHD include nonstimulant drugs such as:

These medicines don't work as effectively or quickly as stimulants. But they tend to have fewer side effects.

Antidepressants can also treat the symptoms of ADHD. But they carry a warning that they may, rarely, increase the risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children and teens.

Dietary Changes

Some parents have considered dietary changes as a way to treat their child's ADHD. But there's a lot of controversy over this approach and no conclusive scientific evidence to support it.

Diets for kids with ADHD are often based on the idea that some foods or food additives might be contributing to ADHD symptoms in some children. So some parents have tried restricting or eliminating the suspected food additives from their child's diet.

Studies so far have shown no conclusive evidence of a link between food additives -- such as synthetic dyes, flavors, and preservatives -- and ADHD symptoms. There's also no conclusive evidence that avoiding sugar will improve your child's ADHD.

WebMD Medical Reference

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