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Treating ADHD in children: What are the best ways?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disease that alters the brain and its behaviour. Genetic abnormalities, exposure to toxins such as lead at an early age, and premature birth have all been linked to ADHD, but exact ADHD causes remain uncertain. There is no known cure for ADHD yet. But there are numerous options available when it comes to the treatment of ADHD that can help your child manage symptoms effectively. Treatment methodologies employed efficiently can lead to improvements in the child’s academic performance and also relationships, self-esteem, and overall confidence. Highlighted below are the most common ADHD treatments available for kids today:

Medication

Medication is the most popular of all treatments available for ADHD. The two main varieties of medications for treating ADHD are stimulants and non-stimulants. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to prescribe stimulants, they are, in fact, quite helpful for kids diagnosed with ADHD because they improve attention and lower hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Although stimulants are generally the primary choice of medication prescribed to treat ADHD, a non-stimulant can also sometimes be prescribed. Doctors opt for non-stimulants in scenarios where the child is experiencing adverse side effects from stimulant medications or if they are concerned about the potential abuse of stimulants. The table below lists commonly used medication in ADHD and could serve as an information guideline. Prescribing medication for a patient with ADHD must always be done by the treating doctor under close medical supervision.

 

Drug

Class

Remarks

Methylphenidate

Stimulant

Stimulants are available short acting and sustained release. Multiple dosing may be required

Dextroamphetamine

Stimulant

Stimulants can inhibit growth & worsen tics. Drug holidays are desirable

Atomoxetine

Non- stimulant- norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor

FDA approved for ADHD children 6 years and older. Increases vigilance, task performance and reduces impulsivity

Clonidine

Non-stimulant - Alpha 1 adrenergic agent

Helps core ADHD symptoms and useful in co-morbid Tics/ Tourette’s

Bupropion

Non- stimulant

Improves core symptoms and mood

TCA’s

Non- stimulant / conventional antidepressant

Improves mood and sleep

Risperidone

Non- stimulant / Neuroleptic

Cuts down agitation & aggression; useful in managing Tics & Tourette’s

AED’s/ Thymoleptic

Non- stimulant

Stabilises mood & behaviour; improves attention

Behavioural Training For Parents

Most parents of kids diagnosed with ADHD begin feeling like they’ve failed as parents, but that is of course not the case. Parental training equips them with the skills that they need to manage the behaviour of their children at home. Behavioural training for parents not only provides them with the emotional support that they need but also helps them in developing necessary disciplining techniques that have been proven to be effective in mitigating the erratic behaviour of kids with ADHD. Parents quickly adapt to setting clear cut rules and bringing a balance to their children’s day-to-day routine. Parents are also informed about effective modification strategies, such as utilising reward systems to motivate their kids to do what they’re told.

Social Skills Coaching

Social skills are often found lacking in kids diagnosed with ADHD because some of the primary symptoms are rude behaviour and a general lack of concern for others. ADHD kids do not mean to be intentionally rude or discourteous. Coaching in this area will help them make friends easier by developing new and necessary social skills.

Psychotherapy & Counselling

Research proves that cognitive-behavioural therapy can be quite useful for children with ADHD. It is aimed at mitigating the shame and lack of self-respect that are symptoms inherent to ADHD. Experienced counsellors and therapists can help older kids deal with such issues that are a byproduct of living with ADHD. Professional counselling and therapy can help the kids in developing coping mechanisms that they will be able to apply every time the going gets tough for them.

Neurodevelopmental Therapy

Neurodevelopmental therapy involves the use of games and tasks that have been specifically designed to enhance a range of neurocognitive skills such as memory, sustained attention, inhibition, planning, as well as visuospatial and motor skills; these are often affected in kids with ADHD. This therapy aims at working with children and their parents simultaneously. Children are taught how to carry out these skill based activities/ play these games during their sessions, while their parents are also taught about how they could gradually increase the level of difficulty by monitoring the child’s progress. Incorporating these activities into the daily routine, making them more fun and engaging, by customising them and changing the rules, based on the interest and skill level of the child, are all possible for parents to do.

A tale of hope straight out of Buddhi Clinic

Taz (affectionately nicknamed after the remarkably volatile yet gentle Looney Tunes character the “Tasmanian Devil”) was brought by his grandfather to the Buddhi Clinic at the age of 3. Taz was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder as well as ADHD. Taz displayed common ADHD symptoms in toddlers such as extreme hyperactivity, a lack of social and language skills, and the inability to maintain eye-contact. His parents and extended family were distraught with his condition.

Apart from prescribed medication to help Taz with his attention, volatility and disruptive behaviour, the course of treatment devised for him by experts at the Buddhi Clinic involved a combination of behavioural therapy, Neurodevelopmental therapy, and family counselling.

Soon, Taz began treading upon milestone after milestone - his first words, progressing from playschool to kindergarten, into primary school, and getting past numerous hurdles with the help of his caring therapists, family, and friends. Gradually, he began showing signs of improvement in areas where he lagged far behind other children without ADHD. The neurodevelopmental therapy approach employed by his therapists at Buddhi Clinic started yielding results in the form of his developing dexterity, motor skills, handwriting, as well as cognitive abilities. Taz also showed remarkable signs of growth in his social skills and behaviour thanks to sustained behaviour therapy and parental counselling. His teachers at school witnessed a tremendous improvement in his performance in all areas, so much so, that Taz even topped his class in Mathematics!

After five years of continued treatment, Taz and his family decided to move abroad. We at Buddhi Clinic even assisted his parents by offering a detailed summary of his condition and course of treatment for his immigration visa to procure special assistance. When Taz first arrived at the Buddhi Clinic, he was a boisterous, troubled child who would turn the room upside down. At the time of his moving, Taz was transformed into a warm and caring child who was still a bit impulsive and disruptive at times, but with far better cognitive abilities and functioning than his family and friends ever imagined him having.

Taz’s story is easily one of our happy stories at Buddhi Clinic, with effective care, a supportive family, continued therapy and treatment, and a positive attitude to know that help is only around the corner. Head out to Buddhi Clinic and find your peace of mind and walk away with a happy story, too!

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