Treating ADHD During the School Year

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Summary & Participants

The school year can be an especially troubling time for children diagnosed with ADHD. Fortunately, with the right balance of therapies, many children have gotten back on track to scholastic success. Join our panel as they take a look at how different treatment options can help your child in school.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

LISA CLARK: Welcome to our webcast. I'm Lisa Clark.

School time requires sustained focus and attention, which means that children with ADHD can often have a hard time in the classroom. Treatments are available, however, and with the right balance of therapies, children with ADHD can get back on the track to scholastic success.

Joining me to discuss some of these treatment options is Dr. Peter Jensen, Ruane Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Jensen, welcome and thank you for joining me.

PETER JENSEN, MD: Thank you.

LISA CLARK: Let's talk about some of the particular challenges that children with ADHD face in the classroom.

PETER JENSEN, MD: Well, the biggest problem that most of these children face is their daily work. Getting the job done that most children define self-esteem and success by. And that's their schoolwork. How well they're doing compared to their peers and other classmates.

And so all of the routine tasks, in particular, are what they find challenging. Whether it be completing the homework, doing a longer project that takes daily follow-up and preparation and planning. Or the routine seat-work and trying to remain calm and focused, when there are so many other distractions around, and you're trying to do a list of math problems.

LISA CLARK: How do these kinds of challenges impact treatment strategies?

PETER JENSEN, MD: Well, this means that the doctor has to be in careful communication with the child and the parent and the teacher throughout the school year. Just starting the child on, say, a medicine and a behavior therapy in September may not be a good strategy for November. In November, the medicine may need to be adjusted. The timing of the doses or the amount of the doses, or putting a new behavioral strategy into place at school might be necessary in November that wasn't really seen.

The same thing happens when children come back after breaks. They've had a little time off. They've had some rest and reassurance. They might be a little fresh again for a while. But you can see that same little pattern, where things can deteriorate, particularly when they get into April and spring fever time and some of the other distractions become increased for them.

LISA CLARK: Doctor, let's talk about medication. There is some controversy about whether all children with ADHD should even be on medication.

PETER JENSEN, MD: Treatment decisions are always individualized. And we know that maybe one in four children can do very, very well with just a therapy, a behavior therapy only. So most children don't respond to behavior therapy. It takes a lot of work.

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