A study by researchers at Florida International University has shown that those who take medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder do not necessarily perform better in the classroom than those not taking the drugs, the Miami Herald reported.
The study, which looked at 173 children between the ages of 7 and 12, challenges beliefs by many doctors that the medication aimed at helping students do better in school boosts academic achievement.
“It’s a very surprising finding,” said William Pelham Jr., senior author of the study and director of the FIU Center for Children and Families.
“Medication helps a child behave better in school, and doctors and teachers think that is going to result in better achievement so they won’t be falling behind and they won’t fail.
“What this study shows is the medication has no effect on how much kids learn in the classroom setting,” Pelham said.
Pelham said reinforcing behavior through positive messaging and building an infrastructure that gives feedback, benefits students more than taking medication.
“Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been clear that ADHD kids have had problems in learning ... and this has happened despite the fact that the percentage of ADHD kids who are medicated has skyrocketed,” Pelham said. “Almost every child with ADHD gets medicated. Unfortunately, most of them only get medication.”
Pelham is a clinical psychologist who has studied the use of medication in ADHD students since the 1980s.
According to Pelham, to help students with ADHD do better in school, behavioral therapy and other psychological methods are needed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD in the U.S., according to a national 2016 parent survey, is 6.1 million (9.4%). This number includes:
· 388,000 children aged 2-5 years
· 2.4 million children aged 6-11 years
· 3.3 million children aged 12-17 years
Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
More than 90% are prescribed stimulant medication as the main form of treatment in school settings.
In addition, the study found that medication slightly helped to improve test scores when it is taken on the day of a test, but not enough to boost most children’s grades.
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