Current estimates put between 4 and 12 % of school children, as having ADHD and treatment plans for this chronic condition will generally include the use of medication to modify behavior. However, these do come with side effects are not all children will respond to them, which is why some parents prefer to adopt an alternative method to replace or work alongside medications to minimize the dose.
Most parents would like to see their child drug-free if possible, as some of the side effects of ADHD stimulant medication are decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, withdrawal from social activities and friends and jitteriness.
The treatment options that can be adopted that don’t rely on medication include behavior therapy, neurofeedback therapy, and education intervention. The ultimate goal of all these three approaches is to encourage the frequency of positive behaviors, while minimizing the symptoms of ADHD – inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
However unlike medications, these treatments don’t come out of a bottle, but require work on behalf of parents, teachers, professionals and the child. For example, these ADHD treatments require an experienced educator or therapist to devise an individual program for the child and the techniques will be taught to family members and the child to ensure they follow through at home.
These forms of treatments for ADHD are devised to improve symptoms while increasing the chance of preventing further problems associated with the disorder in the future.
These methods are not like drugs, they are not a ‘quick fixes’ and results won’t be seen overnight. They aim to be long-term solutions that truly make a difference to a child with ADHD, teaching them to recognize their behaviors and learning ways to adjust them. They try to accommodate the child and make it easier for them to conform to accepted behaviors without using drugs to mask behaviors or personality.
And unlike medications, these modes of treatment require patience on behalf of the people administering the therapy and additional assistance from people who are likely to come in contact with the child on a constant basis.
Consistency is key when adopting behavioral therapy otherwise confusion can set in. Once the ground rules have been set and the rewards and punishments are clearly defined they should be followed by all parties with no exceptions.
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Don’t forget to offer emotional support to your child. Children with ADHD get used to hearing how they are always doing things they shouldn’t and being reprimanded for their behavior. They can also struggle to make friends as a result of their behaviors. This can lead to a low self-esteem and in some cases, depression. So it’s important to give praise where you can and encourage them to use any skills they have whether it’s in sports or another creative outlet.
As you have probably realized, ADHD and treatments that don’t rely on medications are not a quick fix alternative. These are long-term treatments that you will have to continue to work with. You should discuss these alternatives with your child’s doctor and teachers. Never stop medication unless it has been discussed with your doctor.