The treatment plans for children with ADHD vary with reference to age. Supported by numerous international studies, medical therapy and behavioural therapy are proven to be effective.
Preschool children under age 6:
Initial treatment is recommended to be behavioural therapy. Medical therapy may be required when no improvement is shown with behavioural therapy.
School-age children age 6 or above & Adolescents with more severe symptoms:
Medical therapy is the first and major treatment. Medical therapy can effectively help individuals control the core symptoms of ADHD, enhancing attention and lessen hyperactive behaviour. Behavioural therapy and educational support will enhance learning and lessen behavioural problems.
1. Medical Therapy
(a) First-line medication: Central stimulants, with methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin and Concerta) being standard prescription
increase the neurotransmitter dopamine in the central nervous system to enhance attention
research has revealed that 75% of the patients showed significant improvement in attention after medication, with hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour considerably lessened
(b) Second-line medication: Antidepressants and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as atomoxetine (e.g. Strattera)
2. Behavioural Therapy
tackles behavioural and emotional problems, learning and social difficulties
established by learning theories that behaviour is constructed by experiential learning and modeling
emphasizes a systematic way of discipline and good parent-child relationships
(I) define the behavioural problem by observation and recording of the behaviour, including the time, place and frequency of occurrence, parental reaction etc.
(II) evaluate the antecedents and consequences of the behaviour
(III) alter the antecedents and consequences by facilitative environment and appropriate utilization of reinforcement/punishment etc.
3. Educational Support
classroom management and academic accommodations
improve children's learning and attention
regular breaks between learning tasks
clear verbal and written instructions
breaking tasks into smaller steps
a facilitative environment (e.g. reducing noise levels, special seat arrangement)
Child Assessment Service, Department of Health. (2018). ADHD_Eng__18072018. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.