Questions about medication to treat ADHD frequently arise in discussions with parents about the various interventions to manage the symptoms of ADHD.
When were psychostimulant medications first prescribed for ADHD?
1937. In 1937 there was not even a diagnosis of ADHD, but medical professionals recognized there were children who were excessively hyperactive, sometimes dangerous to themselves or others. The first medical doctor credited with using a stimulant medication to treat children with extreme symptoms was Dr. Charles Bradley.
Medication cures ADHD. True or False?
False. Medication will be part of a “wrap around” treatment program that includes support/accommodations at school, parent education to promote a structured home environment and family therapy to develop problem solving techniques. Medication can reduce distractibility and impulsive behavior. Those behaviors will still be present, but to a lesser extent. In the classroom, medication can help the student be accessible to strategies and supports. Strategies and routines need to be taught, reinforced and retaught in order to become part of a student’s way of life.
Medication can prevent risky behaviors. True or False?
Medication can reduce impulsive behavior. Long term studies show reduced instances of drug abuse in teens with ADHD who take medication. There is a lower likelihood of alcohol abuse and injuries resulting from accidents. Dr. Russell Barkley, a major researcher in the area of ADHD, goes so far as to recommend that parents require their teenager with ADHD: Combined Type to take medication if they drive. Teens with ADHD are at greater risk for automobile accidents resulting in serious injuries. Parents need to keep in mind that teens with ADHD are not as emotionally mature as their peers. Teens continue to require parental supervision.
Symptoms of ADHD go away in adulthood.
Not exactly. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 8% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD. Adults with ADHD (like all of us) can choose a work environment that is comfortable and supportive for them. Children have limited choices about school or classwork. Adults have choices. ADHD is recognized as a handicapping condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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