Studies measuring the symptoms of children diagnosed with ADHD both before and after being put on medication may be able to measure how effective the medication is at altering those symptoms. But such studies don’t show the whole picture; parents have mixed reactions about putting their children on medication, even if the medication is helpful. Consumer Reports recently surveyed over 900 parents of children with ADHD about the effectiveness of, and their satisfaction with, a number of different therapies for ADHD.
The majority of parents surveyed (84%) reported that they had tried ADHD medication at some point. Of that group, 67% said that the medication had been very effective, but only 52% said they would choose medication if they had to do it over again. Speaking with MSNBC, Dr. Alan Kazdin said that parents have two common reservations with regards to medication. Firstly, side effects, which were very common (reported by 84% of parents whose children took medication). However, Kazdin says side effects can be avoided or reduced if the doctor adjusts medication appropriately. The second common concern among parents is relying on medication at all; especially with younger kids, this is something that many just aren’t comfortable with.
The good news for parents hesitant about ADHD medication is that, though considered highly effective, it’s not the only thing that can help. A number of parents told Consumer Reports that they’d seen improvements through other strategies, including switching schools (to programs better equipped to work with ADHD students), hiring a tutor, altering parenting strategies, and changing the child’s diet. Statistically, the most effective ADHD therapy combined medication with other tactics. Experts stress that medication may help kids be less distracted, but it does not provide problem solving skills or good habits; behavioral training and therapy are essential to equip kids with the tools they need to stay on task.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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