The following research findings are summarized from the ADHD Report published by Russell Barkley and Associates. Go to http://www.guilfordpress.com if you are interested in subscribing to this publication. Close to 500 articles are being published in journals each year on research related to ADHD and this is an excellent resource if you are interested in reading scientific summaries.
Pediatrician vs. Child Psychiatrist If you have considered medication as an intervention to manage the symptoms of ADHD, have you wondered if you should visit with your child’s pediatrician or a child psychiatrist? While child psychiatrists are often in high demand because there are so few of them, consider the following. Research by Epstein et al., 2008 showed that only 55% of pediatricians utilize standard screening instruments, only 38% utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-R) and only 9% report monitoring response to medication. See ADHD report Volume 21, Number 1.
Working Memory Training You have likely seen commercials that profess to improve cognitive functioning and/or working memory. Because it is quite common for individuals diagnosed with ADHD to have weak working memory, these training programs often target this population and report that they can improve working memory functioning. While several studies have shown significant benefit, this benefit is limited to the tasks similar to the ones that people are trained on (generally computerized tasks that become increasingly difficult over time). In other words, there is no evidence that the benefits transfer to less directly related tasks or that these benefits endure over a long period of time. See ADHD Report, Volume 21, Number 2.
ADHD & Anxiety Disorders Approximately 25% of children with ADHD may also experience significant feelings of anxiety. Research has demonstrated that when these conditions coexist, that working memory tends to be worse. The researchers suggest that it is important to consider anxiety in the assessment and treatment of ADHD. See ADHD Report, Volume 20, Number 5.
Motor coordination and ADHD It is not uncommon for individuals with ADHD to have poor motor coordination. Recent research has shown that individuals who are highly disorganized are more likely to have poor motor coordination and attentional deficits. See ADHD Report, Volume 21, Number 2.
Test-Taking Behavior in Students with ADHD It is not uncommon for students with ADHD to have testing accommodations which allow for extended time. A recent study by Lewandowski et al., 2012 examined test taking behavior of high school students with ADHD in comparison to students who were not diagnosed with this condition. Results showed that the ADHD students attempted a similar number of items during the timed tasks, however they did have poorer decoding and comprehension accuracy. The researchers concluded that students with ADHD should receive interventions directed towards reviewing and checking of responses rather than extended time. See ADHD Report, Volume 21, Number 1.The positive impact of aerobic physical activity on symptoms of ADHD Ample research has demonstrated that physical activity promotes brain health and learning. Positive effects include increased blood flow to the brain, as well as better information processing, increased attention and improved mood. Numerous studies have also shown that ADHD is linked to elevated body mass indexes and lower levels of physical activity See ADHD Report, Volume 23, Number 2. John Ratey, in his book Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain highlights all of the positive benefits of exercise on the brain.Internet addiction and ADHD In the ADHD Report, Volume 23, Number 2, Russell Barkley reports research that individuals with ADHD are at an increased risk of internet addiction. In fact, individuals who have higher levels of ADHD symptoms are at the greatest risk. Additional research has suggested that being male, having low family support, and poor social adjustment are additional risk factors.Omega-3 supplements as a treatment for ADHD In the ADHD Report, Volume 23, Number 2, Russell Barkley cites a study in which all of the research conducted through December 2013 was closely examined in terms of the beneficial effects of Omega-3 supplements on the symptoms of ADHD. The overall findings suggest that the effects are quite small and there is very limited support for these supplements to target the core symptoms of ADHD. He concludes that it is a not a sufficient therapy for a majority of patients.