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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD: Inattentive Type

Behavioral Therapy for ADHD

Behavioral therapy is one way to address ADHD symptoms. In this approach, parents try to make changes in their child's behavior by giving rewards or withholding privileges.

The therapy can be done alone or along with medications.

Some techniques include:

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Time-outs
  • Withholding privileges or withdrawing rewards in response to unwanted behavior
  • Combination of withholding privileges and positive reinforcement

Counselors, parents, and teachers can often work together to help the child focus and get organized.

Here are some helpful tactics you can try:

To-do lists. Create to-do lists of homework and household chores.

"Bite-size" projects. Break down projects and requests into small tasks. Instead of saying, "Do your homework," you might say, "Finish your math sheet. Then read one chapter of your English book. Finally, write one paragraph describing what you read."

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

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