ADD/ADHD can be extremely difficult for children, especially in school settings and social situations. Once a parent or teacher notices the signs and symptoms, you can take them to the doctor to begin a treatment plan. There are medications and behavioral treatments that work for ADD/ADHD. The treatment plan can control the symptoms of the three groups of ADHD, which include: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. With the right treatment plan, a child can follow rules better, as well as improve their relationships with everyone around them. Many children suffer from ADD/ADHD, but that does not mean that every child’s treatment plan will be the same. Work with your doctor to see what plan works for your child.
Children in different age groups have different treatment strategies. Usually, the plan includes: ADHD medications, which can include stimulants, non stimulants and antidepressants, and behavior therapy, which is training for parents and teachers that teaches them how to help children set goals and meet them by using rewards and consequences. In children who are in early elementary school, they use both medication and intensive behavior therapy.
In older children and in teens, there is a different approach to treatment. The treatment combines a few things, and is usually referred to as a multidisciplinary approach. These steps include: medication, behavior therapy, school counselor and teacher involvement, and education for both parents and the child or teen about diagnosis and treatment. Allowing the child or teen to be involved in diagnosis and treatment will help them to better understand their situation, and could help them be more open to treatment.
Behavioral treatment can be used with or without medications. If this option is chosen, the child will need a mental health professional, like a psychologist or social worker. They can work with the child’s teachers to set up programs to improve behavior. Behavioral treatment has three main elements: goal setting, rewards and consequences and consistent therapy for a long period of time. Each one of these elements can be catered specifically to your child’s needs. You can work with the health professional and teacher to see what exact goals, rewards and consequences work for your child.
Medication is one of the most common treatments for ADD/ADHD. People are most common with the medications called Adderall and Ritalin. One of the main types of medication for ADHD are called stimulants. This is the most common type of treatment for ADHD in children and teens. Usually, doctors will try these medications first. Some of these stimulants include Dextroamphetamine (which includes Adderall), Lisdexamfetamine, and Methyphenidate (which includes Ritalin). These medications can help a child focus, and can also help them calm down. Another type of medication used to treat ADHD are called non-stimulants. These include: Clonidine, Guanfacine, (both of these affect certain brain receptors) and Atomoxetine (this affects levels of the brain chemical norepinephrine). These medications pose a lower risk of abuse than stimulants do. Antidepressants can also be used to treat ADHD as well. These become an option for children who have not done well on a stimulant alone. Some children also have depression, anxiety and other mood disorders along with ADHD. Antidepressants can help battle both.
No matter what treatment option you choose for your child, make sure to work closely with a doctor and schoolteachers. It is a team effort to make sure a child with ADD/ADHD succeeds, and although is can be difficult, it is possible with the correct treatment.