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Description: Okay, quick, a good friend of yours says that their young child has been diagnosed with symptoms of ADHD. They ask you what you think they should do. Should they go to physician to see about medication for their child or should they try and find someone who can talk some about behavioural approaches to treatment? What advice would you give them? What is the current standard of advice within psychology based on the current research and grounded understanding of this disorder particularly as it relates to young children? Not sure of your answer? Then you better have a look at the article linked below.

Source: CDC warns that Americans may be over medicating youngest children with ADHD, Arianna Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post.

Date: May 3, 2016


Photo Credit: iSTock

Links: Article Link –

The debate about how to most effectively treat young children with ADHD has been going on for quite a while now. Drugs such as Ritalin whose action involves stimulating functioning within certain areas of the child’s brain have seen dramatic jumps and prescription rates over the last decade or two. Alongside of these jumps have been ongoing efforts to develop and improve approaches to treatment that focus in on children’s behaviour and particularly for young children this behavioural focus is considered more appropriate given their more juvenile levels of cognitive functioning which make it more difficult to engage them in cognitive behaviour therapy. Until fairly recently parents were essentially offered a choice between drugs or behavioural treatment. In recent years however groups like the American Pediatric Association have shifted their position and are now arguing that behavioural therapy should be considered to be at least as important as the potential use of drugs in treating severe presentations of ADHD. This leaves aside entirely the question of whether ADHD diagnoses are being properly arrived at and whether they are being conducted by professionals with appropriate degrees of training and appropriate levels of awareness of the available research and treatment options related to ADHD. An ADHD diagnosis is not something that a general practitioner should be able to arrive at in the context of a short office visit. The concern is that there is an increasing gap between our current research-based understanding of ADHD and the efficacy of various treatments and the level of that knowledge that exists in doctor’s offices where the majority of decisions about ADHD diagnoses and treatment are actually being made. What to do? The Centers for Disease Control are expressing concern.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What treatment options for ADHD are available particularly for use with young preschool children?
  2. What additional issues should be considered when one is investigating the possibility of ADHD symptomology among young preschool children beyond those that might be considered if the child was well along in elementary school?
  3. Should drugs like Ritalin and behavioural or cognitive behavioural therapeutic interventions be considered to be alternative choices for treatment of ADHD or should there be a different relationship between them considered?

References (Read Further):

Vitiello, B., Lazzaretto, D., Yershova, K., Abikoff, H., Paykina, N., McCracken, J. T., … & Wigal, T. (2015). Pharmacotherapy of the Preschool ADHD Treatment Study (PATS) children growing up. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(7), 550-556.

Schatz, N. K., Fabiano, G. A., Cunningham, C. E., Waschbusch, D. A., Jerome, S., Lupas, K., & Morris, K. L. (2015). Systematic Review of Patients’ and Parents’ Preferences for ADHD Treatment Options and Processes of Care. The Patient-Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, 8(6), 483-497.

Hall, E. B. (2015). Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD: New Options for Kids, Adults and Clinicians. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 24(1), 72.