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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Other Treatment

Managing behavior

Overall, medicines are the most effective treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But for mild symptoms, behavioral training, social skills training, training and education for parents, and counseling may be the main treatment. In people with severe symptoms, these methods are used along with medicine.

Behavioral therapy helps train parents, teachers, and other adults responsible for a child who has ADHD. These programs focus on establishing routines and rules for behavior and closely watching how a child responds.

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The adult consistently delivers rewards or consequences depending upon how the child complies with the rules. This type of treatment has been shown to be more effective than cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-based therapies depend more upon the child to self-direct changes in behavior. A child with ADHD isn't likely to have the skills to change his or her behavior without help and guidance from adults.

Behavioral programs most often used to help treat ADHD in a child include:

  • Behavior management. Time-out and reward systems can help a child who has ADHD learn appropriate behaviors for the classroom and home. Parents learn behavior management skills during a series of 6 to 12 counseling sessions of 1 to 2 hours a week.
  • Social skills training. These techniques help the child learn to be less aggressive and impulsive. Children learn to manage anger and behave in a more socially acceptable way.
  • Counseling, including family therapy. All household members can benefit from learning how to deal effectively with ADHD behavior.

Behavioral intervention for adults focuses on help with organizational skills and healthy relationships.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine is used by some therapists and other health professionals. These therapies have not been proven effective in treating ADHD. But a person with ADHD may benefit. For example, acupuncture or biofeedback may help relieve stress and muscle tension and improve a person's overall well-being and quality of life.

If you are thinking about using complementary therapy for ADHD, be open with your doctor about the subject. He or she can help direct you to a method that is safe to use in combination with proven techniques. Only those therapies that best help control ADHD symptoms without causing physical or emotional harm should be used.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 21, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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