We are fortunate to live in an age in which ADHD can be accurately diagnosed and, in the vast majority of cases, effectively treated. Many children, adolescents, and adults have found new hope through these treatment strategies.
Medical therapy is the mainstay of ADHD treatment. An array of highly effective oral medications, taken one or more times per day (depending on the particular drug) to prevent ADHD symptoms, have been available for years, with a number of new drugs in development. Your doctor will help pick the best medication for you or your child. For an overview of available ADHD drugs, see the next section in this guide.
Behavior modification and home discipline strategies may be effective in providing children with better organizational skills and teaching appropriate behavior, especially when combined with medical therapy. Parents should help their kids create a daily schedule of schoolwork, play time, and other activities and encourage them to follow it. Eliminating home distractions (such as a noisy work environment) can help kids focus on their immediate tasks. Giving simple instructions, setting small, short-term goals, and providing praise when tasks are successfully completed will instill a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem.
Special educational provisions may be helpful in extending the above strategies to the school day. Many teachers understand the burden of ADHD and may be willing to devote extra time to these students, such as providing assignments in a simple, easy to follow format. Children with ADHD may need to sit at the front of the classroom to decrease distractions from other kids. More advanced interventions, such as extended time to complete assignments or smaller, specialized classes, may be necessary as well. It is important to remember that ADHD is a real medical condition that can be classified as a disability, qualifying affected individuals for assistance and special treatment under such federal and state regulations as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The National Resource Center on ADHD has a section on helping parents access these benefits (http://www.help4adhd.org/en/education). Talk to your doctor or school nurse or counselor for more information.
Many patients, both young and old, may benefit from psychologic counseling. In this form of treatment, sessions with a qualified psychologist, either one-on-one or in groups with other ADHD sufferers, help individuals better cope with issues related to ADHD and its effects on lifestyle and school / career outcomes, including self-esteem and social interactions. Many children, adolescents, and adults find these sessions a valuable addition to their ADHD treatment regimens.