YOUR HEALTH: Does ADHD medication really help kids?

New studies are revealing somewhat shocking findings about the true effects of drugs to treat ADHD.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:13 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - About six million kids in the U.S. are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Of those diagnosed, 90 percent are prescribed stimulant medications to help with their academic performance. But a new study reveals some surprising findings about these drugs’ effectiveness.

Trouble focusing, unable to sit still, problems with paying attention. The symptoms of ADHD can affect a child’s ability to learn in the classroom. Medication has long been thought by some experts to help children with ADHD and their academic performance, but not everyone agrees.

Sabrina Schuck, PhD Executive Director of Child Development Center University of California, Irvine explains, “Medication is not the silver bullet or it’s ineffective.”

Now new research from Florida International University shows that they may be right. In a study on kids with ADHD between the ages of seven and 12, researchers found the students learned the same amount of content whether they were taking medication or a placebo. They also found medication slightly improved test scores if it was taken the day of the test, but not enough to boost grades. This research suggests that there may be cheaper and more effective methods to try first, such as behavioral therapy or even focusing on improving sleep.

Stephen Becker, PhD, Clinical Psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center says, “Teens with ADHD have two to three times more difficulties with sleep problems.”

And poor sleep is linked to poor school performance.

Becker explains, “You’re probably going to do less well in school the next day. You’re going to retain less information. You might struggle more during a test.”

Experts say it may be beneficial for kids with ADHD to create a bedtime routine such as brushing teeth, putting on white noise, and keeping phones out of the bedroom.

The researchers in the study did find that the medication helped students with ADHD complete more seatwork and improved their classroom behavior.

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