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Family Involvement Improves Behavior and Academics in Children with ADHD

 

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health problem that significantly impairs a child’s academic performance. The behaviors of children with ADHD can also negatively affect social functioning and relationships with other family members. The most commonly used methods of treatment for children with ADHD are medication and behavioral therapy. Both approaches have proven to be effective in some areas, but neither has successfully addressed all the issues that families and children with ADHD struggle with. In recent years, professional educators and clinicians have devised new strategies that focus on behavior and family involvement. Some of these methods incorporate parent-teacher communication and include child report cards, homework monitoring, and other elements that increase parental involvement and child accountability.

One of these methods is the Family-School Success (FSS) program, a program created to increase the academic performance and family awareness of elementary-age children with ADHD. FSS integrates behavioral therapy, daily accountability through the use of report cards, and homework interventions. To test the effectiveness of FSS, Thomas J. Power of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study of 199 elementary school students with ADHD, one-fourth of whom were taking medication. The students and their families were assigned to 12 weeks of FSS or a control treatment known as Coping with ADHD Through Relationships and Education (CARE).

At the end of the 12 weeks, Power discovered that the families and children in FSS had better outcomes than those in CARE. Specifically, the relationships between the schools and families were stronger for FSS participants, and there were improvements in homework completion and positive parenting. Previous research has shown that parental involvement and school and family relationships are essential to improving the academic performance and social skills of children with ADHD. Power said, “This study affirms the important role that parents can serve in improving variables related to student success in school.”

Reference:
Power, T. J., Mautone, J. A., Soffer, S. L., Clarke, A. T., Marshall, S. A., Sharman, J., et al. (2012). A family–school intervention for children with ADHD: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028188

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Comments
  • Sunni April 28th, 2012 at 5:56 AM #1

    I don’t think that it can be stressed enough just how important it is for parents to be involved in their childrens academic lives. This is true whether the kid has ADD, ADHD, or is a perfectly fine student. Think about how much harder yu work even now as an adult when you know that someone has some high expectations of you and want you to do the best. Kids are the same way. Even when they act like they don’t, they want their parents to know what is going on with them in school and to know when they are having successes in the classroom. I have known far too many parents who just kind of check out when it comes to school work because they think that this is the responsibility of the teachers and that they don’t have to be involved. But even if your child does not need the academic help he or she may actually like to know that you are behind them rooting them on.And they are certainly going to be more successful in class as a result.

  • Leslie Moon April 28th, 2012 at 10:59 AM #2

    In some ways the family can be good for the kids because they know what is going on at home and maybe what some of the triggers of the behavior can be.

    But on the other hand I have seen other times when the family just kind of fed into the behavior and kind of enabled the kid to keep misbehaving.

    If they aren’t going to be there to support the teacher and the program then really their involvement can be distracting.

    Of course the goal has to be to get them all working together in a way that is going to be an improvement so that the child does not get so behind in school or become such a distraction to himself and others, but for some families that sure is going to take a whole lot of hard work.

  • trevor April 28th, 2012 at 11:57 PM #3

    parental involvement and support from family members is always desirable for children and more so for kids with a disorder because it gives them hope and confidence that they can be like everybody else and maybe even better.
    why,I look forward to support from my family members emotionally even though I’m in college.friends are great but at the end of the day the only ones standing by you is your family.

  • nick April 29th, 2012 at 2:37 AM #4

    the people around kids with ADHD or any disorder would be a little mean to them for sure.well most of the people.add to this the feeling of being different from others and I can quickly grow into a storm in the kid’s mind.all this negativity needs to be neutralized.and family support is one of the few things that can be the positive factor that can do that.

  • Jon P April 29th, 2012 at 4:25 AM #5

    Any time that you can get a family working with a student, it is sure to increase student success, and I am a firm believer in that. Teachers need the reinforcement at home that parents can provide, and the students need the additional help that the parents can give. Add to this behavioral therapy, which will help the students better understand how to cope and modify behavior which could have been causing them to fail in certain areas, as well as constant notifications about how the student is performing, and the FSS program looks like it could be a real winner. Each teacher, parent, and student will need to have the program tweaked a bit here and there to match up to each unique scenario, but all in all I think that this is something that can be very helpful to many school children and their families.

  • john glennon April 29th, 2012 at 9:58 AM #6

    While it’s a great idea to coordinate with teachers, parents typically find this extremely difficult to do. As a former elementary school principal who not only worked with children with ADHD, but had a son with ADHD, I know working with teachers was difficult — and I was at school all day! The problem seemed to stem from the fact that we didn’t have a means of providing a structured program that would transition from school to home or home to school. After attending an educational technology conference, I found two programs that create the ability to transition from school to home and back again: Play Attention and ADHD Nanny. They use structured formats that we used at school and parents reinforced at home. Play Attention also has cognitive skills with behavioral shaping. We had extraordinary success not only because of the programs, but because we could set goals for home and school and get them reinforced at both venues. I cannot overemphasize the need for parents to become advocates at school. It can and does make a major difference in both behavioral and cognitive outcomes.

  • Al April 30th, 2012 at 4:16 AM #7

    If there is an abundance of this kind of treatment for parents and students and teachers to be involved with, then I foresee that ADHD will cease ti be the problem that so many teachers have had to deal with over the years.

    You give the parents and the students the very best ways to manage it and then there will be more successful learning environs. Everyone profits.

  • Joanne Reed April 30th, 2012 at 3:28 PM #8

    Many times parents with these kinds of children feel so overwhelmed and unprepared that unfortunately they take out their frustrations on the children. They have no training in this fiedl and have been given very little guidance as to how to handle thes unique challenges that are faced by students with ADHD in school. They can be a challenge, not every teacher is going to have a plan for reaching them, and too many times they fall through the cracks of the school system. The parents are expected to pick up the pieces but many of them don’t even know where or how to begin. It is the programs such as this that can show them how.

  • Eric Haracz M.Ed.- Chapt. Coordinator May 3rd, 2012 at 9:18 PM #9

    Given the title…I was hoping for a much better written article….Though positive, I found this much too general and lacking enough specifics to use and share…
    The worst part was citing research findings without naming the souces/publications…
    “PREVIOUS RESEARCH” has shown that parental involvement and school and family relationships are essential to improving the academic performance and social skills of children with ADHD…..
    What research..when and by who?
    Shame on you!
    If you say it …NAME IT!

    Eric Haracz M.Ed.
    Chapter Coordinator
    NY Suffolk CHADD
    Suffolk-County@chadd.net

  • admin2 May 4th, 2012 at 11:23 AM #10

    Thank you, Eric, for your comments. Please let me clarify how and why we publish the News Therapy articles. These short articles are meant to provide a brief summary of findings published in academic or medical journals and are not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of the findings. We always provide a reference at the end of the article to let readers know where they can find more details if they are interested. We apologize if you found the description of “previous research” to be inadequate, but we assure you that the complete information can be found in the original publication of the study. In regard to the title for this particular article, in which we were reporting on a study that assessed the new Family-School Success program, the title of our article was written to reflect the results of that study.

    Kind regards,
    Joy Nguyen
    Managing Editor
    GoodTherapy.org

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