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Parents of ADHD kids share best treatments

July 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be treated with a variety of medications and non-drug therapy options, as well. So what's the most effective approach? Amanda, 15, had good grades in school but had trouble focusing in class and found herself easily distracted from her lessons.

"If the teacher would ask me a question, I would ask them to repeat it ... 'cause I wasn't listening or I just couldn't really sit still in class and stuff," she said.

Amanda was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Her doctor says children with ADHD face a unique set of challenges.

"The main symptoms are short attention span and disorganization. There may also be hyperactivity and impulsiveness," said child neurologist Dr. Martin Kutscher.

To learn which treatments work best, Consumer Reports surveyed more than 900 parents whose children have ADHD.

"Eighty-four percent of those in the survey had tried medication and, of those, two-thirds said that it helped a lot," said Consumer Reports Dr. Orly Avitzur.

But medication alone is not a cure-all. The survey found that children like Amanda who were treated with both drug and non-drug therapies had better results than those who used drugs alone.

Non-drug ADHD therapies include having children meet with a psychologist, getting accommodations in school and keeping a consistent schedule.

Looking over survey data Consumer Reports says if you're considering ADHD medication, be aware there can be side effects.

"Some of the side effects are weight loss, decreased appetite, sleep problems, irritability, and an upset stomach. These problems are usually mild, and with the help of a doctor they can be well managed," said Dr. Avitzur.

That was the case for Amanda. She and her family have found that the symptoms of ADHD can improve over time with proper treatment and close monitoring.

Before children take medication for ADHD, Consumer Reports says it's important to have a health exam. Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they did not have a basic screening before being prescribed medication.


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