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Pay attention to ADHD kids

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Interventions which include one-to-one support and a focus on self-regulation improved academic outcomes in kids with ADHD.

Children need to learn to spot how they are feeling inside, to notice triggers and avoid them if possible, and to stop and think before responding. This is much harder for children with ADHD than most other children, but these are skills that can be taught and learned.

Daily report cards are another strategy that work, children are set daily targets which are reviewed via a card that the child carries between home and school and between lessons in school. Rewards are given for meeting targets.

Using a daily report card is relatively cheap and easy to implement and it can encourage home-school collaboration and offers the flexibility to respond to a child's individual needs.

A study into the area led by the University of Exeter Professor of Child Psychiatry Tamsin Ford, and involving researchers at the EPPI-Centre (University College London), undertook a systematic review which analysed all available research into non-medication measures to support children with ADHD in schools.

Around 5% of children have ADHD, meaning most classrooms will include at least one child with the condition. They struggle to sit still, focus their attention and to control impulses much more than ordinary children of the same age. Research shows that medication is effective, but does not work for all children, and is not acceptable to some families.

The research looked at 28 randomised control trials on non-drug measures to support children with ADHD in schools. In a meta-analysis, researchers analysed the different components of the measures being carried out to assess the evidence for what was most effective.

"Children with ADHD are of course all unique. It's a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, our research gives the strongest evidence to date that non-drug interventions in schools can support children to meet their potential in terms of academic and other outcomes. More and better quality research is needed but in the meantime, schools should try daily report cards and to increase children's ability to regulate their emotions. These approaches may work best for children with ADHD by one-to-one delivery," Ford said.


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