Could Your Child Have ADHD?
Treatment: Controlling the Symptoms and Making Lifestyle Changes
There is no cure for ADHD, but medications can help control
symptoms. Stimulants, which help increase a child's attention span, are the
most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. These stimulants include Ritalin
(methylphenidate), Adderall (mixed salts of a single-entity amphetamine
product), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) and Cylert (pemoline). [Note: As of
March 2005, the manufacturer of Cylert, Abbot Laboratories, discontinued this
drug due to declining sales.] Other types of medications may be used, depending
upon the child's needs: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly
half of all children with ADHD also suffer from conditions such as depression
and anxiety disorders.
Because medications do not help a child with learning or
social situations, behavioral interventions -- helping the child learn social
skills, helping parents with discipline (see "What parents can do") --
are also used in the treatment of ADHD. If the ADHD is extreme, family therapy
may be recommended.
Why Is ADHD So Controversial?
ADHD has been, and remains, a controversial condition. Most
debatable is the use of stimulant medication and its side effects, such as
decreased appetite, weight loss and temporary slowing of growth. Although
parents worry that the use of stimulants may lead to later drug abuse, this is
actually more myth than reality. And new evidence from the Multimodality
Treatment of ADHD study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health,
suggests that stimulants do remain beneficial over the long term. Some experts
have questioned the validity of the disorder itself, as there is no diagnostic
test. As a result, the approach to the management of ADHD by the health-care
profession has not been standardized.
Despite the obstacles facing a child with ADHD, there are
proven ways to maximize a child's effectiveness in school and other social
settings. The most important thing is that all the adults in a child's life --
parents, teachers, doctors -- work together to address problems and help the
child to help himself.
What Parents Can Do
To help a child with ADHD, follow these recommendations from
the American Academy of Pediatrics:
1. Put your child on a daily schedule; structure
helps keep a child calm.
2. Minimize time spent in overly stimulating
environments, such as shopping centers.
3. Reward your child for good behavior. Kids with
ADHD get plenty of attention as a result of their negative behavior; it's
important to balance this with an equal amount of praise.
4. If your child does become disruptive, do not
resort to physical punishment. Instead, remove your child from the situation,
distract her with some other activity or have her spend some quiet time