Childhood ADHD Types & Treatments
Childhood ADHD is comprised of three types: hyperactive/impulsive type, inattentive type and combined type. Symptoms may include inability to pay attention or sit still; impulsivity; trouble listening to a speaker, following directions, finishing tasks or keeping track of personal items; excessive talking; and difficulty playing quietly.
ADHD Medication Chart
Primary care clinicians should initiate ADHD evaluation in any child age 4 through 18 years of age that presents with academic or behavioral problems, and symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with his or her age. Symptom onset should appear no later than age 7 years.
For preschool-aged children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that clinicians prescribe evidence-based parent- and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as first-line ADHD treatment. If evidence-based behavioral treatments are not available, clinicians should weigh the risks of starting medication at an early age against the harm of delaying diagnosis and treatment.
For elementary school–aged children aged 6 through 18 years old, primary care clinicians should prescribe FDA–approved ADHD medications, along with evidence-based parent and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy. The evidence is particularly strong for stimulant medications and sufficient but less strong for atomoxetine, extended-release guanfacine, and extended-release clonidine (in that order).
Clinicians should advise the parents of children with ADHD to create well-structured routines at home to help their kids stay on task. Schedules should including specific times for waking up, eating, playing, homework, chores, activities and bedtime.
Although the link between ADHD and television is unclear, the AAP recommends limiting young children’s exposure. The group discourages television viewing for children younger than 2 years and suggests no more than two hours a day for older children. Instead clinicians should recommend that parents encourage attention-building activities such as games, blocks, puzzles and reading.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity-disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral childhood disorders, according to the CDC. American Psychiatric Association data reveal that between 3% and 7% of U.S. school age children have some form of ADHD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria, and that prevalence has been increasing in recent years.
Approximately 2.7 million U.S. children aged 4 to 17 years, or about 66.3% of those with a current diagnosis, were receiving medications for the disorder in 2007, data from parent reports published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicate. Read more about the disorder and recommended treatments in the slideshow below.
Sign Up for Free e-newsletters
Psychiatry Advisor Articles
- Impulsivity in Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD
- Psychotropic Medication May Reduce Symptoms and Improve Functioning in PTSD
- The Challenges of Identifying Biomarkers of Psychiatric Illness
- FDA Approves Powerful New Opioid Despite Criticisms
- Noninvasive Brain Stimulation of Prefrontal Cortex in Trait Anxiety
- Cannabis Use in Adolescence Associated With Poorer Mental Health Outcomes
- Updates in Borderline Personality Disorder: Your Questions Answered
- Violent Video Games Tied to Physical Aggression
- Shame Drives Suicidal Ideation Among Veterans With PTSD
- Long-term Healthy Diet Associated With Greater Hippocampal Volumes
- Updated Intimate Partner Violence Screening Recommendations for Women
- Patient-Rated Insight Lower Than Clinician-Rated Insight in Schizophrenia
- Multisector Goal Alignment May Curb Medicare Expenditures
- Testosterone Treatment Reduces Symptoms of Depression in Men
- Patterns of Non-Medical Prescription Opioid Use in Adolescents