Other Treatments for ADHD

In addition to stimulant and non-stimulant medications, behavior management therapy can help your child with ADHD.

So most people know that stimulant and non-stimulant medications are available as treatment for ADHD.

But what else is available?

Other Treatments for ADHD

Wait, why would you need to consider other treatments?

Well, believe it or not, some kids can’t tolerate stimulants.

And others either can’t tolerate non-stimulants either, or neither work for them.

So what’s left?

There’s behavior management therapy.

In fact, although it is often overlooked, it is important to remember that behavior management therapy should be the first treatment for younger, preschool children with ADHD.

“There are many forms of behavior therapy, but all have a common goal—to change the child’s physical and social environments to help the child improve his behavior.”

Behavior Therapy for Children with ADHD

And even though older kids are often treated with medication, they too might benefit from behavior management therapy.

“Under this approach, parents, teachers, and other caregivers learn better ways to work with and relate to the child with ADHD. You will learn how to set and enforce rules, help your child understand what he needs to do, use discipline effectively, and encourage good behavior. Your child will learn better ways to control his behavior as a result. You will learn how to be more consistent.”

Behavior Therapy for Children with ADHD

Typical behavior management therapy techniques might include positive reinforcement and allowing your child to earn rewards for desired behaviors and withdrawing privileges to try and decrease other behaviors.

You also want to help your child:

Some children with ADHD may also need social skills training and behavioral therapy for help controlling impulsive behavior.

Once you find a therapist, you can expect it to take time for your child to master the behavioral therapy techniques and better control his ADHD symptoms.
Once you find a therapist, you can expect it to take time for your child to master the behavioral therapy techniques and better control his ADHD symptoms.

And of course, accommodations at school (504 Plan vs IEP) can also be helpful so that your child has extra time to take tests if needed, modified instructions and assignments, and extra break time, etc.

What About Alternative ADHD Treatments?

What about all of those “other” treatments for ADHD that you might have heard about?

At those homeopathic dilutions, it is unlikely that there is any real active ingredient left in the Brillia pills. Remember, homeopathy works by the law of the minimum dose and  although it doesn't say it on the label, homeopathic medications only contain a "memory" of an active ingredient.
At those homeopathic dilutions, it is unlikely that there is any real active ingredient left in the Brillia pills. Remember, homeopathy works by the law of the minimum dose and although it doesn’t say it on the label, homeopathic medications only contain a “memory” of an active ingredient.

Restrictive diets, vitamins, minerals, brain training, and homeopathic remedies that are basically diluted to nothing…

Nutritional lithium, probiotics, and digestive enzymes…

You are actually trying to help your child with ADHD, right?

If all you have tried are alternative therapies to try and help your child with ADHD, then it's time to talk to your pediatrician about some real treatments.
If all you have tried are alternative therapies to try and help your child with ADHD, then it’s time to talk to your pediatrician about some real treatments.

Then try something that at least has a chance of working…

And if nothing works, keep in mind that your child might not actually have ADHD. Maybe something else is causing their symptoms or problems, like obstructive sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, or a learning disability, etc.

More on ADHD Treatments

Treating Hard to Control ADHD

Learn why ADHD can sometimes be hard to control and require more than just a quick prescription for Ritalin or Adderall, including adding behavior therapy, careful monitoring, and special accommodations at school.

ADHD is often much harder to treat than many people imagine.

It isn’t always just a matter of writing a script for Adderall or Ritalin and then have kids who had been failing suddenly jump to the ‘A’ Honor Roll.

ADHD Treatments

Whether your child’s ADHD symptoms include problems with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, or both, the treatments are the same:

  • Stimulants – Adderall vs Ritalin based
  • Non-Stimulants – Intuniv (extended release guanfacine), Kapvay (extended release clonidine), Strattera
  • Behavior Management Therapy

Although often underused, it is recommended that behavior therapy be the first treatment for younger, preschool children with ADHD. Both medication and behavior therapy are typically recommended for older children with ADHD.

ADHD Medications

Surprisingly, there is really no one best ADHD medicine. Those that aren’t yet generic (in bold) are going to be much more expensive than the others.

  • Short Acting Stimulants – Adderall, Focalin, Methylin (chewable), ProCentra (liquid), Ritalin
  • Intermediate Acting Stimulants – Dexedrine, Ritalin SR, Methylin ER
  • Long Acting Stimulants – Adderall XR, Adzenys XR-ODT, Concerta (Methylphenidate ER), Daytrana (patch), Focalin XR, Metadate CD, Metadate ER, Quillichew ER (chewable), Quillivant XR (liquid), Ritalin LA, Vyvanse
  • Non-Stimulants – Intuniv, Kapvay, Strattera

In general, stimulants are thought to work better than non-stimulants, but again, there isn’t one stimulant that is consistently better than another.

Treating Hard to Control ADHD

What do you do when your child’s ADHD treatments aren’t working?

While it is important to “initiate an evaluation for ADHD for any child 4 through 18 years of age who presents with academic or behavioral problems and symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity,” it is important to remember that not all kids with academic or behavioral problems have ADHD.

So the first thing you should do is confirm that your child really does have ADHD. Is it possible that your child was misdiagnosed and doesn’t have ADHD at all? Or could your child have ADHD and another co-morbid condition, including “emotional or behavioral (eg, anxiety, depressive, oppositional defiant, and conduct disorders), developmental (eg, learning and language disorders or other neurodevelopmental disorders), and physical (eg, tics, sleep apnea) conditions.”

Next, ask yourself these questions and discuss the answers with your pediatrician:

  • Is your child taking his medicine?
  • Does your child need behavior management therapy?
  • Are you not getting your child’s ADHD medicine because of how expensive it is? Ask your pediatrician about a lower cost generic ADHD medicine.
  • Has there been a sudden worsening of previously well controlled ADHD, which might indicate a problem with bullying, social changes at home, abuse, or depression, etc.?
  • Are you relying on restrictive diets or other alternative treatments for ADHD that have been proven to not usually work?
  • Does your child need a different dosage of his current stimulant, either a higher or lower dose?
  • Is your child’s medication wearing off too soon?
  • Does your child’s medication take too long to work?
  • Does your child need to switch to a different stimulant or to a stimulant with a different delivery method?
  • Does your child need to switch from a long-acting stimulant to a short-acting stimulant?
  • Does your child need to switch to a non-stimulant, keeping in mind that these are often used in combination with a stimulant and not by themselves.
  • Do you need to adjust your expectations for what kind of control you can get from even maximal treatment?
  • Does your pre-teen or teen with ADHD not want to take his medication anymore?
  • Are side effects keeping your child from taking his ADHD medicine everyday?
  • Does your child need 504 plan accommodations at school and/or an IEP?

And perhaps most importantly, what is making your child’s ADHD hard to control? Is he just still having some ADHD symptoms or are those lingering ADHD symptoms causing an impairment? If they aren’t causing an impairment, such as poor grades, problems with friends, or getting in trouble at school, etc., then your child’s ADHD may be under better control than you think.

What To Know About Treating Hard to Control ADHD

ADHD can sometimes be hard to control and require more than just a quick prescription for Ritalin or Adderall, including adding behavior therapy, careful monitoring, and special accommodations at school.

More Information About Treating Hard to Control ADHD