Behavioral Treatments for ADHD

Although there is a vast body of evidence that certain medications alleviate many symptoms of ADHD, medicine alone is not sufficient treatment for some with ADHD, especially those children and adolescents whose behavior is seriously disruptive in school, with peers, and/or at home with their families. Many of these children need systematic help to develop more adaptive patterns of behavior. Also, current medications are not effective for all individuals with ADHD; as mentioned earlier, 20 to 30 percent of all patients diagnosed have no significant response to medication. In these situations, behavioral treatments may be helpful.

Children and adolescents with disruptive behavioral problems are the ones who primarily benefit from behavioral treatments, which are of limited use for improving cognitive functions such as working memory, processing speed, and sustaining alertness. Behavioral strategies may also help to reduce the common tendency of parents, teachers, and others unwittingly to reinforce a child's disruptive behaviors. For an overview of the extensive body of research showing the effectiveness of these interventions for disruptive behavior orders, including ADHD, see William Pelham and Daniel Waschbusch (1999).

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