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5 Must-Read Articles, and an Online Course, to Help Children with ADHD


– Dr. David Rabin­er, Research Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy and Neu­ro­science at Duke Uni­ver­sity and founder of the Atten­tion Research Update.

Giv­en the ongo­ing changes and con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing ADHD diag­no­sis and treat­ment, let us high­light 5 key arti­cles writ­ten by Duke Uni­ver­si­ty’s Dr. David Rabin­er to sum­ma­rize recent sci­en­tif­ic find­ings and their impli­ca­tions, plus a very rel­e­vant online course to help par­ents and pro­fes­sion­als help chil­dren with ADHD.

1. Study finds large gaps between research and prac­tice in ADHD diag­no­sis and treat­ment

  • Key insight: Evi­dence-based guide­lines from the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics on the eval­u­a­tion and treat­ment of ADHD are fre­quent­ly not fol­lowed. Many chil­dren are diag­nosed with ADHD in the absence of clear­ly meet­ing DSM diag­nos­tic cri­te­ria, and behav­ioral treat­ment is rarely rec­om­mend­ed.
  • Key data point: Pedi­a­tri­cians pre­scribed ADHD med­ica­tion to rough­ly 93% of youth diag­nosed with ADHD. Doc­u­men­ta­tion that behav­ioral treat­ment was rec­om­mend­ed, how­ev­er, was present in only 13% of the charts.

2. Study shows why chil­dren with ADHD should be reeval­u­at­ed each year: Atten­tion prob­lems per­ceived by teach­ers are far less sta­ble than we imag­ine

  • Key insight: Clin­i­cal­ly-ele­vat­ed atten­tion prob­lems as per­ceived by teach­ers are less sta­ble than imag­ined, high­light­ing the impor­tance of care­ful­ly reeval­u­at­ing chil­dren each year so that chil­dren do not con­tin­ue to car­ry a diag­no­sis that may no longer apply and to be treat­ed for prob­lems at school that are no longer evi­dent.
  • Key data point: Data from 3 diverse sam­ples indi­cates that more than 50% of ele­men­tary school chil­dren rat­ed by their teacher as hav­ing clin­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant inat­ten­tive symp­toms one year do not show sim­i­lar prob­lems the fol­low­ing year.

3. Don’t over­look sleep dif­fi­cul­ties in chil­dren with ADHD; they may impair func­tion­ing as much as ADHD itself

  • Key insight: Although the link between ADHD and sleep dif­fi­cul­ties is well-doc­u­ment­ed, eval­u­at­ing sleep dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing an ADHD assess­ment may be rou­tine­ly over­looked. In some cas­es,  sleep prob­lems may cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant dif­fi­cul­ties for their dai­ly func­tion­ing beyond what ADHD symp­toms explain, so treat­ing the child’s sleep dif­fi­cul­ties should be an impor­tant treat­ment tar­get.
  • Key data point: The most preva­lent sleep prob­lem – report­ed for 42% of the sam­ple – was exces­sive day­time sleepi­ness, and it con­tributed to sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er life skills even after con­trol­ling for ADHD symp­toms. The sec­ond most preva­lent sleep prob­lem was insom­nia (for 30% of the sam­ple), and it pre­dict­ed greater social impairment–above and beyond impair­ment explained by ADHD symp­toms.

4. Reduc­ing the Need for High Med­ica­tion Dos­es with Behav­ior Ther­a­py

  • Key insight: The real­ly inter­est­ing find­ings from this study con­cern the com­bi­na­tion of med­ica­tion and behav­ioral treat­ment. On vir­tu­al­ly all ADHD mea­sures, adding high inten­si­ty behav­ior man­age­ment to the low­est med­ica­tion dose of med­ica­tion yield­ed com­pa­ra­ble improve­ments to those pro­duced by the high dose med­ica­tion alone. For a num­ber of mea­sures, even low inten­si­ty behav­ior man­age­ment com­bined with the low­est med­ica­tion dose was as effec­tive as high dose med­ica­tion.
  • Key data point: Results sug­gest­ed that a typ­i­cal child with ADHD could be treat­ed with the equiv­a­lent of 5 mg of methylphenidate 2X/day if he/she con­cur­rent­ly received mod­er­ate to high inten­si­ty behav­ior ther­a­py. With­out behav­ior ther­a­py, the same child would require a 20 mg dose 2X/day to attain com­pa­ra­ble ben­e­fits. Thus, the dai­ly reduc­tion in methylphenidate would be 30 mg/day.

5. Mind­ful­ness train­ing for chil­dren with ADHD and their par­ents

  • Key insight: Mind­ful­ness train­ing for chil­dren and par­ents can be a help­ful inter­ven­tion for ADHD. Par­ents can observe reduc­tions in their child’s ADHD symp­toms fol­low­ing train­ing. In addi­tion, they can observe declines in their own ADHD symp­toms and par­ent­ing stress.
  • Key data point: From pre- to post test, chil­dren who received mind­ful­ness train­ing were rat­ed by their par­ents as show­ing sig­nif­i­cant declines in inat­ten­tive and hyper­ac­tive impul­sive symp­toms; the mag­ni­tude of the decline was large for atten­tion prob­lems and mod­er­ate for hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty. These declines remained evi­dent and of sim­i­lar mag­ni­tude at the 8‑week fol­low-up.

We hope you enjoy those 5 must-read arti­cles sum­ma­riz­ing recent sci­en­tif­ic find­ings and their impli­ca­tions.

To learn more, par­ents and allied pro­fes­sion­als may also want to access the 6‑hour, self-paced, online course How to Nav­i­gate Con­ven­tion­al and Com­ple­men­tary ADHD Treat­ments for Healthy Brain Devel­op­ment, fea­tur­ing Dr. David Rabin­er and Sharp­Brains’ Alvaro Fer­nan­dez.

Learn More & Register Here

(10%-off dis­count code: sharp2017)


Course descrip­tion: In order to suc­cess­ful­ly pro­mote children’s healthy brain devel­op­ment, every par­ent whose child has been diag­nosed with ADHD should learn how to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly nav­i­gate and mon­i­tor the range of poten­tial ADHD treat­ments based on the lat­est sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence. This course aims at pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion, frame­works and toolk­its to make well-informed deci­sions, in con­junc­tion with pro­fes­sion­al advice, about med­ica­tion, behav­ioral ther­a­py, exer­cise, neu­ro­feed­back, work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing, med­i­ta­tion, diet and sup­ple­ments.

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Categories: Attention and ADD/ADHD, Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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