Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are many forms of treatment that can relieve and reduce symptoms. Traditional treatments for ADHD include various forms of therapy, counseling or training, and medication. It may take some time to find the best treatment or combination of treatments for your child.
Medication can be an important part of a child’s treatment and can help children deal with ADHD in their everyday life. The most appropriate course of action likely combines behavioral therapy with medication. The most commonly used medications for ADHD are stimulant drugs. Many children with ADHD have an imbalance of key chemicals in the brain, or neurotransmitters, that serve to regulate emotion, thoughts, and actions. These drugs affect neurotransmitters in the brain to increase or balance out their levels which can sometimes significantly improve inattention and hyperactivity. The right dose will most likely vary from child to child and it may take a while to find out what works best for your child. Stimulant medications come in different forms such as patches, capsules, pills, or as a liquid. In addition, these drugs are available in short-acting and long-acting varieties. Some specific examples of stimulant medication include:
Other medications that have been used to treat ADHD include:
And antidepressants such as:
Both atomoxetine and antidepressants may be good choices if your child is unable to take stimulants, but take longer to take effect.
A common concern parents may have is whether or not stimulant medications are safe for their children. There is no evidence that these medications may lead to substance abuse in children who use the drug for appropriate reasons and are considered safe under the right medical supervision. The down side to stimulant drugs are side effects that include:
Other, less common, side effects may include personality changes or repetitive motions called tics. It is important to speak with your doctor if your child experiences these rare side effects.
It is extremely important that your child receives the right amount of medication at the right time and that the medication does not fall into the wrong hands. Here are some measures that can be taken to make sure your child’s medication is safe:
Many parents may consider using alternative medicine sources for their child; however, there is little evidence supporting these methods. If you are interested in pursuing alternative interventions, make sure to first speak with your child’s doctor. Alternative treatments can include the following:
Your child’s school may have special programs for children with ADHD and it is important to take advantage of these opportunities. Federal law mandates that schools provide extra support to children with disabilities that impact their learning. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, children can receive additional services such as changes in classroom setup, curriculum adjustments, study skills instruction, and more.
It may also be helpful to maintain constant communication with your child’s teachers. Share with them any skills and tips you have learned in helping your child deal with ADHD. Make sure teachers provide clear instructions for assignments and give positive feedback to help your child cope with self-esteem issues and manage his/her ADHD.