Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a relatively common disorder, affecting between 3 and 5 percent of children worldwide. Due in part to this fact, there are many types of treatment for ADHD. These most often involve the use of medication, behavior modification, counseling or some combination thereof. Medication tends to be the most cost-effective treatment for ADHD, and the most well-known. It is also safe for most children and adults, but is not recommended for children under the age of 3.
Various types of behavioral modification can be done as part of a treatment for ADHD. These include therapies directed toward the child himself, as well as those directed toward the family of the child. The training and education of parents of children with ADHD has been shown to be among the more beneficial types of non-pharmaceutical therapy. Once parents know what to expect regarding their child's behavior and the challenges they face, many things will be less of a surprise, and easier to deal with because of this preparation.
Stimulant medications continue to be the most clinically effective of all types of treatment for ADHD. The most common medications used for this purpose are methylphenidate and amphetamine, and these come in a variety of forms, such as time-released and long-acting. For school-age children, parents' and teachers' perceptions of disruptive behavior generally improve markedly in the short term when these medicines are used.
The use of such medications is widely considered to be safe, though the long-term effects of stimulants on the developing brain are not yet fully understood. It is clear, however, that the use of medication as a treatment for ADHD does not by itself predispose children to drug use or addiction in the future. Despite government-issued warnings on some ADHD medications about potential drug abuse and related problems, there is little clinical evidence of real risk.
Certain modifications to lifestyle and daily routine have been shown to be of value as a treatment for ADHD. A consistent and clear daily schedule can help give some structure to the life of a child suffering from ADHD, and usually comes as a relief to the child as well as the parent. Organization is also helpful, such as having a specific place for all school supplies, homework and toys. Perhaps most importantly, because children with ADHD are used to receiving frequent criticism, noticing and praising good behavior can help lift the emotional burden that can accompany the disorder.