Treating ADD in children requires a multimodal approach. This often includes behavior management, adjustments in the school setting, individual and family counseling, and medication. To achieve successful results, a collaborative team of health professionals, educators, and parents should be assembled to work with the child. As a parent, your first step is to learn as much as possible about ADD because you are an essential member of the team.
Behavior management is an important part of treating ADD in children, especially those with impulsive and hyperactive behavior. Special techniques are available to help parents and teachers work with children with ADD to improve their behavior, social relationships, and academic achievement. These techniques include use of structure, incentives, positive reinforcement, and effective responses to problem behavior.
Adjustments in school. Most children with ADD can stay in a regular classroom with minor adjustments in the setting, additional support personnel, and/or some special services outside the classroom. Teachers may need to be educated about ADD in order to become effective collaborators in implementing accommodations and providing support.
Individual and/or family counseling can be helpful if the child or family is having difficulty adjusting to the diagnosis or coping with the psychosocial stresses that ADD can cause.
Medication is important for many children with ADD as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. However, medication alone is not enough to enable a child with ADD to achieve success. There have been some concerns that medication is used just to make life easier for parents and teachers.
Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Cylert are the most widely used for treating ADD. In about 70 to 80 percent of children with ADD, they help improve attention and decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity. This can lead to improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem; schoolwork; and relationships with parents, peers, and teachers. Side effects may occur, but in most cases they are mild and short-term. Antidepressants, such as Norpramin, and the high blood pressure medication, Clonidine, are sometimes used to treat ADD when stimulants are not effective.
When medications for ADD are used properly they are safe. They can produce results that are of great benefit to the child as well as the parents and teachers.
Take an active role in your child’s care. That is, learn parenting and behavior management skills that are effective with ADD. Also, emphasize your child’s strengths and foster self-esteem. For example, people with ADD often are more creative because of their lack of inhibition. In addition, by helping your child learn to focus high energy, you can turn what may be a problem into an asset.
Take care of your own needs too. Support groups for parents of children with ADD are available through local chapters of Children and Adults With Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) and other community organizations.