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Call for greater availability of ADHD therapy

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) refers to a range of psychiatric disorders. These share general characteristics including difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and difficulty controlling behaviour. ADHD is more common in children. The causes of the condition are uncertain and could well vary according to individuals. Most likely there is a mix of genetic and environmental factors at play.

ADHD affects around 7 percent of children worldwide. However, in some regions the rates are considerably higher. According to the CDC, the rate in the U.S. is closer to 15 percent.

The CDC has recently noted that while the majority of children diagnosed with ADHD receive drug treatment — a rate of around 75 percent — less than 50 percent receive any form of psychological services (such as behavior therapy.)

The CDC sees therapy as a key component for managing the condition. Anne Schuchat, who is the U.S. health agency’s Principal Deputy Director stated: “Parents may feel overwhelmed with decisions about their child’s treatment for ADHD, but healthcare providers, therapists, and families can all work together to help the child thrive.”

Schichat also added: “Parents of young children with ADHD may need support, and behavior therapy is an important first step. It has been shown to be as effective as medicine, but without the risk of side effects.”

The point here is that many medications carry the risk of side-effects and some medications are not suitable for longer-term use. Therapy can equip the child, together with the parents, with tools to manage the condition.

Key areas for therapy to focus on include:

Positive communication: to show the child that the parent is listening.
Positive reinforcement: praising the child when he or she does something right.
Structure and discipline: trying to make the child’s world more predictable.

In related news, new research from Taiwan indicates that the month of birth appears to affect whether a child will develop ADHD. With this, the youngest children in a school grade are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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