Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can severely affect a child’s social, academic, and emotional functioning. In an opinion article on CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/01/opinions/adhd-pills-for-children-drexler/index.html) Peggy Drexler, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, discusses the vital importance of utilizing behavioral and psychological interventions in treating ADHD, and how medication alone often does not suffice. In the article she shares results from recent studies showing that children who started to receive social skills training alongside basic behavioral approaches fared significantly better than those who began treatment with medication.
In my experience children with ADHD initially have problems with inattention and hyperactivity, but it is eventually low self-esteem, strained family relationships, and poor social relationships that take the biggest toll. Medication can certainly remediate symptoms for a period of time, but what it cannot do is teach the necessary skills that children and parents need to improve overall functioning. That is why we firmly believe in an integrated approach here at the Kahane Center. Through parent engagement in therapy, mothers and fathers can learn how to set clear and appropriate boundaries in the house, provide consistent, positive feedback to their children, and prevent the negative patterns of interaction that all too often ruin relationships.
Individual therapy can give children a safe place to process the feelings they have about the struggles they are having in school and at home, and hopefully work on developing a sense of identity that does not include the words “dumb”, “incompetent”, or “damaged”. Finally, our social cognition therapy groups – supervised by Dr. Kahane, a pioneer in social cognition work – utilize a unique meta cognitive approach to teaching socialization. We provide children with a safe and supportive environment to engage in the process of learning how to regulate themselves successfully in social situations. They learn how to become aware of the many, many skills involved in making and maintaining friendships and in processing social information effectively. They learn how to be mindful of other people’s perspectives, problem solve and conflict resolve. Successfully treating ADHD requires an integrated and targeted approach but this approach reaps huge rewards for children and their families. Medication alone is not the answer.