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Is Parent Training a Key to ADHD Symptom Control?

When parents receive training and support, children’s ADHD symptoms improved. Collaborative care with a case manager could be a key alternative therapy.

March 23, 2015

A study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine in 2015 makes a strong case for keeping parents involved in the hands-on management of their child’s ADHD symptoms.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that a child’s ADHD symptoms may improve when their parents engage in their treatment plan, actively deal with their own mental health challenges, and work to manage difficult behavior. Its results suggest that additional parental support and training does translate into improved symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, social skills, and oppositional behavior.

The researchers evaluated 156 six to twelve year olds in urban Boston; each was already being evaluated for ADHD after a parent reported seeing impulsive or hyperactive behavior. Half of the families were assigned a care manager who was responsible for collecting symptom reports, compiling a family medical history, and working as a liaison between parents and treatment professionals. Additionally, the care manager taught parenting skills and gave motivational interviews.

When parents received this support and collaborative care, children’s symptoms improved over the course of a year in most cases. The participants were evaluated after 12 months using the SNAP-IV scoring system and Social Skills Rating System. Overall, the children of the parents receiving more support and training were less hyperactive and impulsive, less oppositional, and showed improved social skills.

The researchers are hopeful that this will be the first of many studies to examine long-term solutions that will help people with ADHD function better, even as behaviors change with age. They suspect that behavioral therapy can have short-term benefits, and lead to more positive, lifetime outcomes.

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