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Last Updated on : 01st Aug, 2014

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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Persistent inattention and hyperactivity are two hallmark symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Please see the sections below for more information about these difficulties, as well as to learn about the best-supported treatment options.

What is ADHD?

Children and adolescents with ADHD show age-inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Symptoms of inattention include difficulty staying on task, distractibility, disorganization, and forgetfulness. Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, on the other hand, include interrupting the conversations or activities of others, acting without thinking, talking excessively, and running around when expected to sit quietly. These problems are usually apparent early in development (before age 7), are present in more than one setting (e.g., at home, at school, with peers), and typically follow a chronic course. As a result of their inattention and behavior problems, youths with ADHD often struggle academically and have difficulty getting along with their parents, teachers, and peers. More boys than girls tend to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Although most children and adolescents with ADHD experience problems in all three areas of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, some young people experience difficulty with sustained attention, disorganization, and forgetfulness, but do not display hyperactive or impulsive behavior. In such cases, problems can go unnoticed until middle school, when academic demands and the structure of the school day often require increased organization. A smaller number of youths (usually very young children) display hyperactive and impulsive behavior in the absence of attention problems. For these children, however, attention problems often emerge as they face increasing demands at school.

ADHD often co-occurs with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, or a Learning Disorder.

As can be seen below, behavioral approaches and organizational interventions currently have the most research evidence for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD.

Child & Adolescent ADHD

Works Well
What does this mean?
  • Behavioral parent training (BPT)
  • Behavioral classroom management (BCM)
  • Behavioral peer interventions (BPI)
  • Combined behavior management interventions
  • Organization training
What does this mean?
  • Combined training interventions
Might Work
What does this mean?
  • Neurofeedback training
What does this mean?
  • Cognitive training
Not Effective
What does this mean?
  • Social skills training

Source: Steven W. Evans , Julie Sarno Owens & Nora Bunford, Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology (2014): Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2013.850700

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