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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Evidence-based treatment for ADHD

ADHD affects many children. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, can have a detrimental affect on a child’s performance in many areas including with his grades, his behavior in the classroom, relationships with others, self-regulation, daily life skills, and much more.

Within the scientific literature and research, behavioral treatment or behavior modification as well as medication are found to be the most effective treatments for ADHD. See the University at Buffalo’s Center for Children and Families document titled “Evidence-based Psychosocial Treatment for ADHD Children and Adolescents.”

View the following video with speaker, Dr. Kimberly Williams, for a quick summary of the use of behavior modification.

When implementing behavior modification strategies at home, here are some main points to consider:

  • Identify the behaviors that you no longer want your child to perform or that you would like to see less of. Be specific. Identify in what setting (such as in the classroom or at the dinner table, etc.). Identify exactly what your child’s behavior looks like (such as falling out of his chair).
  • Identify the behaviors that you want your child to be displaying. Again, be specific. It’s important to identify the behaviors that your child should be doing (such as looking at the teacher, sitting still in his chair, etc.) and not only the behaviors you do not want to see.
  • Define attention. This is related to the previous points, but I’m sure it is a primary concern of any parent with a child with ADHD as the main problem is that you want your child to be better at paying attention.
  • Develop a long-term goal (such as being able to sit at a table to do homework for 20 minutes without performing “non-attending” behaviors).
  • Break the long-term goal into VERY SMALL short-term goals. It’s important to start where your child is at and then help him to be successful in reaching increasingly larger goals.
  • Reinforce any success. Be sure to provide praise, rewards, and/or anything that will help your child realize that you recognize his efforts. Reinforcement will also help him stay motivated to working toward the short and long term goals.
  • Be patient. It takes time to make big changes (even small ones, too, sometimes).
  • Allow your kid to be a kid. He needs to be able to run around and play and enjoy his own hobbies, although it is great to have high expectations and work on the goals you have for him regularly.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to give yourself a break sometimes. You need your rest and refresh time in order to be at your best.

Note: Future posts will include more specific behavioral interventions for children with ADHD.

[image credit: Marco Mayer via Fotalia]

Evidence-based treatment for ADHD

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Evidence-based treatment for ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from