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Mark Hutten, M.A.
Re: Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

How is ADHD treated?

Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments
include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.


Different types of psychotherapy are used for ADHD. Behavioral therapy aims to help a youngster change his or her
behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working
through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a youngster how to monitor his or her own
behavior. Learning to give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking
before acting, is another goal of behavioral therapy. Moms and dads and teachers also can give positive or negative
feedback for certain behaviors. In addition, clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines can help a youngster
control his or her behavior.
Therapists may teach kids social skills, such as how to
wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to
teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the
tone of voice in others, and how to respond
appropriately can also be part of social skills training.

How can moms and dads help?

Kids with ADHD need guidance and understanding from
their moms and dads and teachers to reach their full
potential and to succeed in school. Before a youngster
is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have
built up within a family. Moms and dads and kids may
need special help to overcome bad feelings. Mental
health professionals can educate moms and dads about
ADHD and how it impacts a family. They also will help
the youngster and his or her moms and dads develop
new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Or, if the youngster has trouble completing tasks, moms and dads can help their youngster divide large tasks into
smaller, more manageable steps. Also, moms and dads may benefit from learning stress-management techniques to
increase their own ability to deal with frustration, so that they can respond calmly to their youngster's behavior.

Sometimes, the whole family may need therapy. Therapists can help family members find better ways to handle
disruptive behaviors and to encourage behavior changes. Finally, support groups help moms and dads and families
connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and
successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.
Parenting skills training helps moms and dads learn how
to use a system of rewards and consequences to change
a youngster's behavior. Moms and dads are taught to give
immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want
to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviors they want
to discourage. In some cases, the use of "time-outs" may
be used when the youngster's behavior gets out of control.
In a time-out, the youngster is removed from the upsetting
situation and sits alone for a short time to calm down.

Moms and dads are also encouraged to share a pleasant
or relaxing activity with the youngster, to notice and point
out what the youngster does well, and to praise the
youngster's strengths and abilities. They may also learn to
structure situations in more positive ways. For example,
they may restrict the number of playmates to one or two,
so that their youngster does not become over-stimulated.
NOTE: Tips to Help Kids Stay Organized and Follow Directions:

•   Be clear and consistent. Kids with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.
•   Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Kids with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior,
and praise it.
•   Organize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and
•   Schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and
indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far
in advance as possible.
•   Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your youngster the
importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.