New ADHD Findings Fit With What Many Boarding Schools Have Known for a Long Time

Student studying

In her CNN piece Pills for your kid’s ADHD? Try this instead, Peggy Drexler takes a look at how we’ve to come to easily default to pharmacology when treating ADHD (it works; kids respond to it) instead of working with the child on his her behavior which might —in the long run — prove more effective at treating the child’s ADHD

“…children diagnosed with ADHD improve more quickly when their treatment involves behavior modification first, and then medication, rather than the other way around — which, of course, is the more common route.

How common? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that fewer than 1 in 3 children with ADHD receive both medication treatment and behavioral therapy.

The new research, published as two reports in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, found that children who began treatment with approaches — such as instruction in basic social skills, based on a simple, but specific, system of rewards and consequences — fared significantly better than those whose treatment began with a pharmaceutical, even if both treatments were ultimately combined into one therapy…”

What Drexler writes about is creating a consistent environment for the ADHD students something that many small boarding schools do very well.

Drexler writes of “rewarding a child’s cooperation or patience with verbal praise, such as ‘good job,’ or acknowledging the complaint-free completion of a task like homework or chores with screen time or a special dessert…”

Schools frame their practices in different ways. At Trinity-Pawling, the Effort System has been the foundation for feedback for more than thirty years. T-P boys receive effort evaluations every six weeks. At some schools, faculty, like families, are omnipresent in student lives and provide consistent structure and reinforcement.

In the end, positive structures, practices, behaviors, and consistent attention from faculty may be the best tools when working with students with ADHD.

Instilling consistent structures, routines, expectations, positive reinforcement — these are all things that many boarding schools do well every day.

  • BenTallbot

    Yes, I think you’re absolutely right. No medication can do better than work on behavior and discipline. After all, ADHD cannot be cured, but you can learn to live with this symptom, and it certainly requires a long and painstaking work.

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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