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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Behavior Modification Strategies for ADD

09/21/2000

Question:

Could you please give me three suggestions for behavior modification for ADD students? I need some strategies to keep them motivated, organized, and to enhance self-esteem.

Answer:

Motivation, organization and self-esteem needs really vary by student. In general (although there are exceptions) the following help: 1. Motivation: Give assignments that are possible to accomplish---don`t set them up for failure. This is why we have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for such students. 2. Organization should be tackled in small, achievable chunks at first. Keeping a notebook of assignments helps many persons with ADHD. 3. Self-esteem is often helped for older students when they learn of all the important people who have had ADHD, or that IQ tests often read falsely low for persons with ADHD. For both older and younger students, improving the first two (organization and motivation) is the best self-esteem booster. For most individuals with ADHD, all three of the above are much easier to accomplish (often, the only way they can be accomplished) on appropriate levels of stimulant medication. I have often told patients that the only known longterm side effects of methylphenidate (generic, Ritalin or Concerta) after 40 years of medical use, or of dexedrine products (dexedrine or Adderall) is enhanced self esteem.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati