Behavioral therapy is a crucial non-pharmacological intervention in managing ADHD patients (Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). This approach increases the patient's control over core symptoms of impulsivity, attention difficulties, and hyperactivity. For children below six years, behavioral therapy is the recommended first-line intervention.
While some ADHD patients might achieve optimal functional performance with behavioral therapy alone, others require medications or a combination of the two to reduce symptoms. The multimodal approach that uses pharmacological agents and behavioral interventions is the most effective strategy for managing ADHD, as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Before your physician recommends any treatment, they will perform an ADHD test to confirm the diagnosis and ensure no comorbidities exist. In some cases, patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can have other conditions like generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, making cognitive behavioral therapy the most suitable intervention.
Psychotherapy alone is not as effective as medications, which address the core symptoms. However, behavioral intervention has a more long-lasting impact as it equips you with skills that help you in managing various aspects of the condition. Noteworthy, the available treatment modalities target to improve symptoms, but they don't cure ADHD.
Behavior Therapy Techniques
There are multiple behavioral approaches to managing ADHD, but all of them have one goal: to create an enhancing physical and social environment for improved behavior. Since the disorder is primarily diagnosed in the four to seventeen year age group, behavioral treatment requires the input of parents, teachers, plus other caregivers.
Behavior therapy techniques for children with ADHD include:
• Positive reinforcement
You reward and compliment any desired behavior the child achieves. For instance, buying the child a toy for completing a specific task.
In this approach, you deny the child access to the desired activity because of failure to complete tasks or unwanted behavior. For example, if the child hits a playmate, you instruct them to play alone for 10 minutes.
• Response cost
When the child fails to complete a task or accomplish the desired behavior, you withdraw the benefits and rewards: for example, no playing video games for failure to finish assignments on time.
• The token economy
Uses a combination of privileges and consequences for an overall reward. For instance, when completing homework, the child receives an additional point for every appropriate action but losses a point for any unwanted behavior. At the end of the day, week or month, the child sums the points and collects a reward.
Handling Behavior Problems
Children with impulsive behavior often have trouble establishing positive relationships both at home and school. Parent training is used to enable such children to develop better interaction skills and relate better with others.
As a parent, this training helps you learn how to set rules for your child with ADHD, work with them to obey the rules, and administer appropriate disciplinary measures. You compliment and encourage good behaviors while discouraging habits that usually get them into trouble.
Notably, parent training is not limited to ADHD cases only. Children with oppositional defiance disorder and those prone to tantrums like ADHD patients will significantly benefit from the strategy for enhanced family relationships. As the child grows up, the learned skills are transferrable to other settings such as schools and allow the child to interact more naturally with others.
Children with ADHD who benefit from parent training have lesser outbursts compared to other patients.
Clinical psychologists usually offer different types of parent training, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), and Parent Management Training (PMT). Regardless of the training you take, you'll learn how to consistently use praise to encourage appropriate actions as well as consequences to discourage undesired behavior.
The expected results of parent training include better adult-child interactions, decreased child tantrums or arguments, and reduced parental stress.
School Interventions for ADHD Patients
School systems like Daily Report Card that encourage positive behaviors can dramatically improve interactions for children with ADHD. The Daily Report Card outlines specific expected behavior for children while in school, provides feedback on their progress, and rewards every achievement.
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The program requires input from both teachers and parents or caregivers. With a focus on the most problematic behaviors, the teacher sets goals specific to the child. For instance, if the child has issues relating to peers, the teacher can set a goal of reduced fighting and rate the child's performance for each day. When the child acquires a particular number of points or stars for positive behavior, they receive a reward on returning home.
Preschool children to those as old as twelve can benefit from this behavioral intervention.
Dealing with Attention Problems in ADHD Patients
Children with ADHD usually present with deficiencies in executive functioning. As a result, they're often poor in planning, organizing materials, learning from experiences, controlling emotions, and making decisions. Shifting from one activity is a significant problem that makes completing different tasks, including school assignments, pretty tricky.
Learning specialists help children with ADHD maximize their strengths as compensation for the multiple weaknesses in executive functions. Consequently, they'll be able to complete schoolwork and other duties at home that require attention.
The skill-based training is usually done based on the child’s abilities and age. For instance, if your child is in elementary school, the learning specialist will work with you and your kid to establish tools such as a checklist, reward chart, or planner to help the child get assignments done successfully with minimal conflict.
While you put every effort to assist your child cope with ADHD, it’s vital to assist them to understand how each strategy will help them both at home and school.
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