CDC recommends behavioral therapy for ADHD treatment before medication

CDC recommends behavioral therapy for ADHD treatment before medication

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - New guidelines from the CDC recommend children under 6 with ADHD try behavioral therapy to treat symptoms before trying medication, and The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Psychology said it has seen success in using it for years.

"I think that is best practice," said Keith Radley, assistant professor in the School of Psychology. "There's a host of research that was done to suggest that behavioral interventions are really effective for remediating a lot of problems, and, I think, really serve as a good front-line intervention for most kids with behavioral difficulties."

The CDC's new research stated about half of children ages 2 to 5 with ADHD "are not receiving psychological services, including the recommended treatment of behavior therapy."

Now, the American Association of Pediatrics is recommending doctors "first refer parents of young children with ADHD for training in behavior therapy before trying medicine."

"What we see is that lots of parents, when they first have a concern with their child, probably head to their pediatrician," Radley said. "Pediatricians are the ones that are probably prescribing medications, and may not be recommending behavioral interventions or may not be the ones actually implementing behavioral interventions."

Radley said behavior therapy is a treatment the clinic at the School of Psychology has used for years and has had a lot of success with.

"One of kind of our bread-and-butter services is addressing issues of compliance, issues of distractibility and attention, so that is something that we do quite a bit here," he said. "Our first line really is to go to behavioral interventions, and sure there are children that certainly need medication that we can't fully address the range of behaviors that they are exhibiting, but for the majority of children, we are able to be pretty successful in remediating those behaviors."

He said it is important for parent to know there are options besides medication and to seek multiple opinions from medical professionals before deciding on a treatment.

"Parent should be aware of their options, that it's often good to seek out a second opinion from a psychologist," Radley said. "When you're discussing issues with a pediatrician, talk about alternatives to medical intervention, and that should certainly include behavioral interventions. Through our clinic here, we really have a good opportunity to be able to provide those direct interventions, behavioral supports for kids and hopefully limit the need for medication down the road."