Research Based Interventions for AD/HD

While AD/HD is not considered a specific learning disability, it certainly impacts a child’s academic performance. AD/HD diagnoses are on the rise and some researchers estimate more than 5 percent of preschoolers are diagnosed with the condition. AD/HD is a neuro-biological disorder and the symptoms begin in early life and continue through adulthood. There are three different classifications of AD/HD- Inattentive Type, Combined Type, and Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. Research shows that AD/HD can impact a person’s working memory, processing speed, written expression, and reading comprehension. In addition, many individuals with AD/HD have difficulty paying attention during class lectures which can impact their acquisition of new information.  Read below to learn what research shows for the different treatment options for your AD/HD child.

1.     One of the most popular forms of managing AD/HD symptoms is medication management. “For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medication also may improve physical coordination” (NIMH, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

2.     Research suggests the combination of psychostimulant medication AND behavioral strategies. In fact, children receiving combined intervention (behavioral and medication) needed a lower dosage of medication than children who received medication alone (Dupaul and Weyandt, 2006).

3.     Another non-medication treatment option is counseling. Research suggests that play therapy can be effective for young children (Portrie-Bethke, Hill & Bethke, 2009). Play and activity based counseling can focus on maximizing strengths and allowing the child to harness energy through therapeutic play.

4.     Growing research supports bringing the parents and family into AD/HD interventions. For instance, parent training for young children with AD/HD has shown to be an effective way to manage the behavior of young children with AD/HD.

5.     AD/HD coaching is a growing area in counseling and includes setting goals, self-monitoring, positive reinforcement, and performance feedback.

6.     Attention training, as well as neurofeedback have been popular methods in the treatment of AD/HD. Attention training is based on the field of cognitive rehabilitation. Research has shown that neurofeedback is successful in 70 to 80 percent of cases treated, and the gains tend to last.

7.     There are many school-based interventions that can help a student with AD/HD obtain academic success. For instance, accommodating for a student’s attention weakness can help with their school success. Accommodations in Texas can be provided under a Section 504 Plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

8.     Token economies can be an effective management technique in the home and school setting. Token economies typically consist of positive reinforcement and immediate feedback. DuPaul and Weyandt (2006) reported that, “there is a long history of empirical support for classroom-based token reinforcement programs in reducing disruptive behavior exhibited by students with AD/HD” (Pp. 349).

9.     Because having a child with AD/HD can impact the entire family system. Growing research is suggesting that sibling counseling and even marriage counseling improves AD/HD symptoms.

10.  Lastly, daily exercise, practicing mindfulness (read my blog here for some ideas, fish oil supplements (under the care of your child’s pediatrician), and yoga all have research to support the effectiveness of minimizing symptoms of AD/HD. 

Written by: Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting