#1 Ranked Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
MyPatients provides referring primary care providers with secure access to their patients’ information.
Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
Innovation insider is a semi-monthly e-newsletter analyzes innovations at Boston Children’s, other academic medical centers and from industry.
Read the latest blog by a Boston Children's doctor, clinician or staff member.
There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Learn more about our ranking as the top pediatric hospital here.
Boston Children's Hospital's clinicians are regarded as world leaders in diagnosing and treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Your child is always treated as an individual, and never “just a patient.”
Our compassionate, family-centered care model considers you and your family central members of the treatment team, and you are involved in your child's care from beginning to end.
Because Boston Children's is a multidisciplinary center with experts in all relevant fields, your child's treatment plan will involve much more than medical care to manage his ADHD symptoms. You (and he) will also have access to an assortment of educational, emotional and psychosocial support services to meet all of your family's needs.
For some children, it may be appropriate to start with behavioral modification therapy and move to medication only if behavioral treatments don't work well enough. (As an example, if you have attended a behavioral parent training class, the teacher has worked for several months on classroom interventions and your child has received focused treatment—but you still see considerable room for improvement in his behavior and rate of progress—you and your child's treating clinician might consider starting him on medication.)
For many kids with ADHD, the combination of medication and behavioral approaches should be considered from the very start.
Stimulant medications (drugs that enhance the activities of the brain and nervous system) have been used to treat ADHD and related childhood disorders since the 1930s. These medications have proven to be very effective in improving the basic symptoms of ADHD—including inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity—in up to 90 percent of children.
Stimulant medications work well for ADHD because they are able to “balance out” the brain chemicals that make it hard for kids with the disorder to maintain attention and control their impulses.
There two families of compounds commonly used for ADHD:
These medications are available in different preparations under various brand names. The drugs will differ in how they're administered (for example, in tablets or capsules) and in how long they are effective (short-acting or long-acting).
Considerations before beginning medication
There are a few considerations involved when stimulant medications are prescribed for ADHD:
The most common side effects of stimulants include:
Most side effects associated with stimulant medications:
Before starting your child on a stimulant, your treating clinician will obtain a thorough medical and family history and perform a physical examination, including checking your child's pulse, blood pressure and heart rate. Electrocardiograms (EKGs) and further heart tests are not usually necessary, unless an abnormality shows up in your child's medical or family history or during a physical exam.
An important note: If your child has any type of heart problem, she should always be examined and cleared by a cardiologist before beginning any new medication.
Learn more about medications used to treat ADHD.
Kids with ADHD can also benefit from some common behavioral modification therapies, including:
A combination of behavioral modification therapy and medication is usually more effective than either approach alone, at least in the short term. Your child's treating clinician is the best source of information in determining what treatment methods to try, when to implement them and for how long.
A structured educational setting can be an especially difficult place for a child with ADHD. That's why the federal government has put some special rules in place to help kids with ADHD and other learning and behavioral conditions succeed in school.
It is critical to understand, however, that a formal diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically mean your child will qualify for either an Individual Education Program Plan (IEP) or accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities (including ADHD).
Raising and caring for a child with ADHD can be very stressful at times, and may often present challenges for the entire family. In these circumstances, parent support and education about ADHD can make a big difference.
Boston Children's Hospital offers classes in behavior management skills for parents. Training in these skills usually occurs in a group setting, which encourages parent-to-parent sharing and the brainstorming of ideas. Contact our Department of Psychiatry to learn more.
The ups and downs experienced by a child—and family—living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can feel overwhelming sometimes. In addition to the information provided here, you may find comfort and support from the following resources:
Patient and family resources at Boston Children's
Please note that Boston Children's Hospital does not unreservedly endorse all of the information found at the sites listed below. These links are provided as a resource.
Helpful links for parents
Helpful links for teens
Helpful links for younger children
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”