There are two main treatment options for ADHD: behavioural therapy and
medication. Drug treatment is not recommended for pre-school children with ADHD.
Rather, the doctor should contact the nursery or pre-school teacher to discuss a
care plan and a parent-training/education programme should be offered.
For school-age children, the national guidelines recommend that drug treatment
be reserved for:
children with severe symptoms and impairment
- those with moderate levels of impairment who have refused non-drug
- those whose symptoms have not responded sufficiently to
parent-training/education programmes or group psychological treatment.
If a child is prescribed medication as part of their treatment for ADHD there
are two classes of medication available: stimulants and non-stimulants.
Stimulants include methylphenidate and dexamfetamine based medications which are
licensed for children in the UK. Atomoxetine is a non-stimulant and in the UK,
is currently licensed in children and for adults, when treatment was initiated
in childhood. Different treatments will suit different children and doctors will
be able to advise parents and carers on this.
Research has shown that combining behavioural therapy with appropriate
medication is one of the most successful ways of treating ADHD.