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Although symptoms can be reduced, there are no cures and usually no easy solutions to ADHD and the problems it creates. However, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the longer-term impacts the disorder may have if left untreated. The disorder is chronic and requires ongoing management as well as great patience and persistence on the part of family, school, and the child himself. Treatment is always multimodal, necessitating the cooperation of child, parents, pediatricians, teachers, and sometimes psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. For true ADHD, medications remain an important component of treatment. ADHD can be improved with medications that correct the attentional dysfunction and impulsiveness.

Medications have received considerable attention in recent years for the management of attentional and activity symptoms. Additional treatment options, including educational efforts, psychological counseling, and behavioral management may, in conjunction with medication, be helpful in dealing with the child's learning, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. For example, your doctor may recommend that your child participate in group therapy and social-skills training for peer difficulties; individual psychotherapy for his struggles with low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression; parent training and parent support groups so that mothers and fathers can learn better man­agement of their child's behavioral difficul­ties; and family therapy so the entire family can discuss the effect of ADHD on their rela­tionships.  

A structured daily schedule, with routines, consistency, and predictability, can be very helpful for an ADHD child. Your pediatrician may be able to give you some specific ideas about how you can structure your child's environment to help him function better. Establishing consistency in the time that the child eats, bathes, leaves for school, and goes to sleep each day is a good way to start. Reward him (with kind words, hugs, and occasional material gifts) for positive behavior and for adhering to rules. To keep him focused on the task at hand (for example, dressing in the morning), you may need to be present. Also, before going into situations with lots of stimulation (parties, large family gatherings, shopping centers), review with your child your expectations for his behavior. 

A learning or educational specialist may work with your child's school to assist the teacher in helping the youngster experi­ence academic success. As the teacher bet­ter understands the child's struggle, he or she may be better able to help him become organized. The teacher also might establish a reward system for proper attention to the task at hand, while also avoiding humiliating the child because of his inattention be­haviors. Working in small groups is helpful, since ADHD children tend to become easily distracted by those around them. Private tutors often work well, too, with ADHD youngsters sometimes accomplishing much more in thirty minutes or an hour of one-to-one instruction than during an en­tire day at school.

As you relate to your child, be realistic. Keep in mind that he has difficulty establish­ing control over his impulsiveness and restlessness.

Children diagnosed with ADHD are entitled to various supports from their school. Fed­eral legislation specifies that under the category of "Other Health Impaired" (OHI), a child may receive such assistance as prefer­ential seating in the classroom, extended time on tests, reduced homework, and flexible teaching methods. To receive such supports, a qualified pediatrician or other professional must make the ADHD diagnosis, and the child's teachers must confirm that the ADHD is having a significant impact on the child's learning.  


Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.