Cchildren with adhd typically have trouble paying attention, and demonstrate hyperactivity and impulsivity. Those symptoms can result in numerous problems including lower academic achievement.
A recent study looked at whether medications used to treat ADHD improve school achievement. previous studies that examined that question were mixed. in this study, researchers considered the question using structural equation modeling (seM) techniques, which the authors say are more sophisticated and advanced than traditional regression techniques.
Researchers looked at a sample of 783 children with a diagnosis of ADHD from the early childhood longitudinal study Kindergarten (ecls-K), which followed children from kindergarten through grade five and provides a large, community-based, nationally representative sample. approximately 66.9% of the children in the sample took a prescription medicine for treatment of ADHD, while 33.1% did not as of the spring semester of fifth grade. after examining reading and mathematics scores of children with ADHD over time, as well as the duration they were treated with medication, the study found only a statistically insignificant association between ADHD medications and academic achievement. one limitation of the study was the fact that many of the children in the sample had received medication for less than two years, which may not have been an adequate amount of time to see a statistically significant increase in academic achievement, if there were to be one. researchers also suggested that their findings might be due to review of the children as an aggregate without acknowledging the influence of subtype symptoms as delineated by DSM-iV. in other words, the study did not look at children who exhibited symptoms of the inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined subsets versus children who exhibited a lower level of symptoms and were diagnosed with ADHD not other- wise specified (Nos). The authors cite a second study (Barnard et al, 2010) demonstrating positive correlation between academic achievement and inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined subtypes of ADHD, but not ADHD-Nos. Therefore, the adhd-Nos diagnosis may be masking a host of other attention- related disorders that may not respond to medication in the same way (Barnard- Brak l and Brak V, J Child Adol Psychop 2011:21(6):597–603).
CCPR’s Take: The jury is still out on the effectiveness of medication to improve academic outcomes of patients with adhd.
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