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ADHD Module

Treatment for AD/HD

Treatments for AD/HD currently focus on reducing the symptoms of the disorder and improving functioning.

Management of AD/HD symptoms in adults includes medication, psychotherapy, education, training or coaching, or a combination of these treatments (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008). Medication is the most common treatment for children and adults with AD/HD (Wilens, Zhang, Ning, Feldman, & Buitelaar, 2009) with stimulants being the most frequently prescribed including Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, Ritalin, and Strattera. Typically, medications are prescribed by physicians (usually a psychiatrist) while in some states psychiatric nurse practitioners and clinical psychologists also can write prescriptions. There are side effects of stimulant medications including decreased appetite, sleep problems, anxiety, and irritability (NIMH, 2008). For students at the postsecondary level, these side effects may further affect class attendance and participation when compared to the effects of the syndrome without pharmacological intervention.

It is important to note that medication does not cure AD/HD, rather, it may reduce the symptoms of the syndrome.

Coaching has recently re-emerged as a treatment for adults with AD/HD helping students with goal setting and planning strategies (Swartz, Prevatt, & Proctor, 2005) to complete assignments, study for exams,and attend class prepared to participate in activities. Coaching is described as a focused, one-on- one approach between the client and a coach that often focuses on self-management, time management, and organizational skills (Attention Deficit Disorder Resources, 2011).

image of teacher and students in class

An ADHD coach is a trained professional who guides and supports a client in dealing with the challenges of living with ADHD at work, at school, and at home. Teaching specific learning strategies can improve the grade point average of students with AD/HD (Allsopp, Minskoff, & Bolt, 2005). However, according to Goldstein and Naglieri (2008), “by far, the most effective short-term interventions for AD/HD reflect the combined use of medical, behavioral, and environmental techniques” (p. 869). Treatment for ADHD continues to evolve as greater understanding of the underlying pathology of the disorder emerges.





Allsopp, D. H., Minskoff, E. H., & Bolt, L. (2005). Individualized course-specific strategy instruction for college students with learning disabilities and ADHD: Lessons learned from a model demonstration project. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20(2), 103-118.

Attention Deficit Disorder Resources. (2011). What about ADD coaching? Retrieved from http://www.addresources.org/?q=node/627

Goldstein, S., & Naglieri, J. (2008). The school neuropsychology of ADHD: Theory, assessment, and intervention. Psychology in the Schools, 45(9), 859-874.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2008). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactiv...

Swartz, S., Prevatt, F., & Proctor, B. (2005). A coaching intervention for college students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 42(6), 647-656. doi:10.1002/pits.20101.

Wilens, T. E., Zhang, S., Ning, Y., Feldman, P. D., & Buitelaar, J. K. (2009). Comparison of symptomatic versus functional changes in children and adolescents with ADHD during randomized, double-blind treatment with psychostimulants, atomoxetine, or placebo. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(3), 335-342.