Treatment of ADHD

Young student daydreaming in his classroomTreatment options for children and adolescents with ADHD include medication, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and social skills training.

There are times when the entire family of a child with ADHD can benefit from support groups, or parenting skills training.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America does not take any position with regard to the treatment of ADHD. ADHD is not a specific learning disability.

No single treatment is the answer for every child. A child may sometimes have undesirable side effects to a medication that would make that particular treatment unacceptable. And, if a child with ADHD also has anxiety or depression, a treatment combining medication and behavioral therapy might be best. Each child’s needs and personal history must be carefully considered.

Medications

For decades, medications have been used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Medications for ADHD help many children focus and be more successful at school, home, and play. Avoiding negative experiences now may actually help prevent addictions and other emotional problems later.

About 80 percent of children who need medication for ADHD still need it as teenagers. Over 50 percent need medication as adults.

The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD is called a “stimulant.” Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication considered a stimulant, it actually has a calming effect on children with ADHD. Many types of stimulant medications are available. A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants and work differently than stimulants. For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medication also may improve physical coordination. Following is a list of the medications, their trade (or brand) names and their generic names. “Approved age” means that the drug has been tested and found safe and effective in children of that age.

Metadate ER

Trade Name Generic Name Approved Age
Adderall amphetamine 3 and older
Concerta methylphenidate (long acting) 6 and older
Dexedrine dextroamphetamine 3 and older
Dextrostat dextroamphetamine 3 and older
Focalin desmethylphenidate 6 and older
Metadate ER methylphenidate (extended release) 6 and older
Metadate CD methylphenidate (extended release) 6 and older
Ritalin methylphenidate 6 and older
Ritalin SR methylphenidate (extended release) 6 and older
Ritalin LA methylphenidate (long acting) 6 and older
Strattera atomoxetine 6 and older
Vyvanse lisdexamfetamine dimesylate 6 and older

The information in this section is provided from the National Institute of Mental Health website.

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