Children with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) face numerous challenges across many settings. In school, they often have difficulty maintaining attention and staying on task. Academically, children with ADHD tend to perform below their peers. Behaviorally, children with ADHD tend to be more disruptive than non-ADHD children. Lack of impulse control and inability to regulate emotions make it hard for children with ADHD to adhere to routines and rules at home or at school. The myriad of difficulties that can affect functioning in children with ADHD has led to the creation of various types of interventions. Research has shown that the most effective approaches incorporate student-teacher, student-parent, and parent-school relationships.
Jennifer A. Mautone of the Center for Management of ADHD/Community Schools Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently conducted a study testing a pilot program that addressed all of these elements. The Family-School-Success-Early Elementary (FSS-EE) program focuses on strengthening parenting practices and increasing the level of education involvement of the family, as well as improving the teacher-student relationship. For her study, Mautone recruited 61 children and their families and assigned them to the FSS-EE or a control condition. The FSS-EE lasted for three months and included individual, school-based, and group sessions. The families and children were evaluated throughout the program and again 2 months after completion.
The results indicated that the children who participated in the FSS-EE had better behavioral and academic outcomes than those in the control condition. This finding was consistent regardless of whether or not the children were on medication for ADHD. Components such as daily report cards and family consultations impacted the children’s behavior positively, and significantly improved the teacher-student relationships. “The findings offer preliminary support for the effectiveness of this intervention in improving parenting practices and student functioning in school among young students with ADHD,” said Mautone. However, she did not find evidence that FSS-EE increased family involvement in school activities. The FSS-EE targeted parenting practices, but did not focus on homework and at-home academic skills. Paying more attention to these areas could increase the amount of involvement the parents have with their children’s education in and out of the school setting. Mautone also believes future studies that involve a more diverse sample of students could give clues on how to best tailor this type of intervention to meet the needs of low-income children who may not have access to a variety of mental health services.
Mautone, Jennifer A., Stephen A. Marshall, Jaclyn Sharman, Ricardo B. Eiraldi, Abbas F. Jawad, and Thomas J. Power. Development of a family–school intervention for young children with ADHD: Results of a randomized clinical trial. School Psychology Review 41.4 (2012): 447-66. Print.
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