Ins and Outs of ADHD Treatment

Alpha Agonists
Guanfacine and clonidine belong to a group of medications known as alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. These medicines have been used for decades to treat high blood pressure. The exact way they work to treat ADHD is still unknown.
Both guanfacine and clonidine may be used alone or in combination with a stimulant medication. The extended-release versions are dosed once a day. Like atomoxetine, guanfacine and clonidine may be useful in children who have tic disorders in addition to ADHD. They may also help improve sleep problems in children with ADHD. Both of them can cause low blood pressure or a slow heart rate, which could be a problem in children who already have these conditions.

Behavior Therapy for ADHD

Behavior therapy can help a child and his or her family to learn more effective ways to manage the behaviors associated with ADHD. It is often used in combination with medications. There may be instances, however, when behavior therapy is used alone. Some of the situations in which behavior therapy may be used instead of medications include the following:
  • When ADHD symptoms are mild and do not interfere with a child's level of functioning.
  • If it is not entirely clear that a child actually has ADHD. In this case, behavior therapy may be used until a more definitive diagnosis can be made.
  • When families prefer to use behavior therapy instead of medications.
Types of Behavior Therapy
A variety of behavior therapy programs are used to treat ADHD. Options may include:
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Parent skills training
  • Social skills training
  • Psychotherapy.
Behavioral therapy is used to help a child learn to change his or her behaviors. It can be useful for managing behavior problems that occur at school or at home. Behavioral training involves the child, parents, and teachers. Parents may learn how to set rules and routines for their child, as well as how to respond to certain behaviors with positive or negative feedback, as appropriate. By including teachers in behavioral training, consistency can be maintained in both home and school environments.
Parent skills training teaches parents the tools and techniques that can be used to help manage their child's behavior. Techniques learned in parent skills training can include things like using a home token system, using timeouts effectively, and managing behaviors in public.
During social skills training, a therapist may teach a child about appropriate behaviors that are important in developing and maintaining social relationships. For example, a child may learn to wait for their turn, share toys, ask for help, and read facial expressions or body language.
Psychotherapy addresses a child's underlying emotions. In psychotherapy, a child may learn how to better cope with their disorder by exploring their thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. The therapist may help the child find alternative ways to handle their emotions. Psychotherapy may also be an appropriate option for parents or families coping with ADHD.
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ADHD Information

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