Unfortunately, when parents learn that their child is diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a pharmaceutical intervention is often called upon.
New findings from the largest-ever study on the best treatments for ADHD suggests the initial preference for stimulant-based drugs is misguided, say researchers at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention.
Research by William Pelham, PhD, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and others shows that when children are treated with behavioral interventions — and their parents are trained to better manage their children’s behavior — medication is used less often.
And, when it is used, it’s administered in much smaller doses, Pelham said.
“Medication should not play nearly as large a role as it does now in treatment of ADHD,” Pelham said.
That’s because while medications address ADHD symptoms such as restlessness and fidgeting in a classroom, they don’t address the impairments caused by ADHD. Those include a lack of successful interactions with peers, deficits in reading and math skills, and difficult relations with parents and family members.
Pelham also pointed out that researchers still don’t know what long-term effects these medications may have. So far, research indicates that ingesting a large amount of drugs, particularly in higher doses over years of treatment in childhood, may reduce a child’s adult height by two inches, Pelham said.