Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) can affect numerous domains of functioning for children and adults. For school-aged children, academic performance, peer relationships, and behavior can all be impaired as a direct result of ADHD. Although psychotropic medication has been widely used as a remedy for symptoms associated with ADHD, it has not been shown to improve academic performance or particular behaviors related to school productivity. Therefore, various school-based interventions have been designed to address these problems.
In a recent study, George J. DuPaul of the College of Education at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania examined the effectiveness of three types of ADHD interventions including cognitive behavioral, academic, and contingency management. He reviewed 60 separate studies and found that school-based treatments did result in positive outcomes on both academic and behavioral measures. Specifically, the interventions that blended contingency management and academic elements had the strongest impact on academic performance, regardless of the school setting and type of research. Cognitive behavioral and contingency approaches were more effective at modifying disruptive behavior. Additionally, private school or summer programs resulted in better behavior outcomes, while public school environments resulted in more academic improvements.
Although this research does provide substantial evidence for the validation of school-based approaches for ADHD, none of the studies DuPaul examined contained any follow-up measures of academic performance. This is an important limitation because children with ADHD may respond well in the short-term, but long-term improvement is necessary for academic success. Future work should address this void in data. Until then, these results demonstrate that various types of school-based interventions can be quite effective at helping children overcome barriers to school and social success. Also, these approaches can be delivered to even the youngest of children. “School psychologists should consider academic, contingency management, and self-regulation interventions first-line treatment strategies when addressing the educational and behavioral needs of students with ADHD,” said DuPaul.
DuPaul, George J., Tanya L. Eckert, and Brigid Vilardo. The effects of school-based interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analysis. 1996-2010. School Psychology Review 41.4 (2012): 387-412. Print.
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