The Benefits of Behavioral Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD

33 blog avatar The Benefits of Behavioral Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD
Expert Name: Kimberly Woolery
Expert Title: Kimberly Woolery
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Kimberly Woolery received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in psychology 
from Florida International University and her master’s degree in counseling psychology with a concentration in Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis from Nova Southeastern University. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Kimberly’s clinical research interests lies in achieving cultural competency in behavior analytic service delivery. As a clinical specialist at Special Learning, Kimberly hopes to fuse marriage and family therapy with behavior analysis to create a culturally sensitive service delivery model for the special needs population in developing countries like Jamaica.
The Benefits of Behavioral Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD
Although behavior analysis is marketed as the cornerstone treatment for the autism population, it is also a critical part of treatment for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents.
 
Why use Behavioral Treatments with children with ADHD?
 
Kids with ADHD face several problems in their lives that go well beyond the symptoms of their disorder such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity which may lead to problematic behaviors which include but are not limited to poor academic performance and behavior at school, poor relationships with their peers, siblings and parents. These behaviors impact the quality of a child’s life because they ultimately predict how children with ADHD will do in adulthood. 
 
Behavioral treatments have been shown to improve a child’s academic and social skills. Children with ADHD who receive behavioral treatment are usually more successful in school and have better relationships with their peers. Skills taught during childhood will be useful throughout their entire lives.
 
When should your child start behavioral treatment?
 
Experts recommend that treatment should begin as soon as a child receives a diagnosis. Behavioral interventions can be modified to suit the preschooler, the elementary student (children), the middle school students as well as the high school student (adolescents and teenagers). It is always better to start earlier rather than later. It is important that parents should not
put off starting treatment. 
 
 
How does behavioral treatment help?
 
With behavior therapy, parents, teachers and children learn specific techniques and skills from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or an educator who is trained in behavior analysis and will help to improve your child’s behavior. Parents and teachers can then use the skills in their daily interactions with their children with ADHD, resulting in improvement in their child’s functioning in various areas. 
 

Did you know that according to the National Institute of Mental Health behavior analysis also known as behavior modification is the only evidenced based non-medical treatment for ADHD?

During behavior analysis, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, or BCBAs, will train you in implementing effective strategies for improving a child’s behavior.

Behavior analysis is often put in terms of ABCs which are:

  • Antecedents – things that occur or happen before behaviors
  • Behaviors – the behaviors that the child does that parents and teachers want to change and
  • Consequences – whatever happens after the behaviors occur

In behavioral programs, adults will learn how to change antecedents and consequences. For example, a mother may learn how to give a command (the antecedent) and how to react when her child obeys or disobeys her. What happens before or after the behavior occurs is crucial for behavior change which in this example would be how the child responded to the command.

By consistently changing the ways that parents respond to their child’s behaviors, they essentially teach the children new ways of behaving. If a teacher is involved, the parent and teacher should carry out the behavioral intervention at the same time in order to achieve the best results. It is important that all of these components are incorporated into the behavior plan:

  1. Start with goals that the child can achieve in small steps.
  2. Be consistent. This means consistency across different times of the day, in different settings and with different people.
  3. Implement behavioral interventions with the intention of carrying this out for the long haul rather than implementing this for a few months.
  4. Finally it is important to remember that teaching and learning new skills take time, and your child’s improvement will be gradual. So remember to be patient if you do not see immediate progress once you’ve started the behavioral treatment.

References:

http://www.help4adhd.org/treatment/behavioral/WWK7

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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