When a child is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), parents often have concerns about which treatment is right for their child. ADHD can be managed with the right treatment. There are many treatment options, and what works best can depend on the individual child and family. To find the best options, it is recommended that parents work closely with others involved in their child’s life—healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other family members.
ADHD lasts into adulthood for at least one-third of children with ADHD 1 . Treatments for adults can include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.
ADHD affects not only a child’s ability to pay attention or sit still at school, it also affects relationships with family and other children. Children with ADHD often show behaviors that can be very disruptive to others. Behavior therapy is a treatment option that can help reduce these behaviors; it is often helpful to start behavior therapy as soon as a diagnosis is made. The goals of behavior therapy are to learn or strengthen positive behaviors and eliminate unwanted or problem behaviors. Behavior therapy for ADHD can include
These approaches can also be used together. For children who attend early childhood programs, it is usually most effective if parents and educators work together to help the child.
Medication can help children manage their ADHD symptoms in their everyday life and can help them control the behaviors that cause difficulties with family, friends, and at school. Several different types of medications are FDA-approved to treat ADHD in children as young as 6 years of age.
Medications can affect children differently and can have side effects such as decreased appetite or sleep problems. One child may respond well to one medication, but not to another.
Healthcare providers who prescribe medication may need to try different medications and doses. The AAP recommends that healthcare providers observe and adjust the dose of medication to find the right balance between benefits and side effects. It is important for parents to work with their child’s healthcare providers to find the medication that works best for their child.