See a therapist before treating ADHD

The CDC’s new guidelines for treating young children for ADHD say that behavioral therapy is better than psychotropic medications because no one knows what the long-term effects of those drugs on developing brains will be.

When high-rev, interruption-filled behavior might be a sign that your preschooler has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it’s tough to know what to do. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines to help parents of kids 6 and younger choose the best treatment for ADHD.

Behavioral therapy that teaches kids and parents how to adopt alternative behaviors and interact more gracefully in social situations is the way to go. That’s because, according to a CDC representative, no one yet knows “what the long-term effects of psychotropic medications are on developing brains and bodies of little kids.” Behavioral therapy, however, is safe and can make long-term improvements in how a child functions at home, in school and with friends.

Unfortunately, for kids with ADHD, many never get to try behavioral therapy, and almost half of preschoolers with ADHD take medications for the disorder. So if your preschooler is hyperactive, impulsive or has trouble focusing, ask for a referral to a behavioral therapist who specializes in treating youngsters with ADHD. Your child might end up on medication if his or her behaviors are seriously unsafe or if behavioral therapy doesn’t address the problem sufficiently, but it’s the smart first step.

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