The most common symptoms of ADHD include difficulty maintaining attention, difficulty remaining organized, forgetfulness, being easily distracted, hyperactivity, impulsivity and impatience. For a young person with ADHD these symptoms can present and manifest in ways that can make the classroom a very difficult environment to remain engaged in. It is therefore promising to see research emerging that suggests that school-based interventions for young people with ADHD appear to be showing significant promise.
In the most recent edition of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Steven W. Evans from the University of Ohio and his team published their study that compared the effectiveness of two distinct training programmes: the Challenging Horizons Program – after school version (CHP-AS) and the Challenging Horizons Program – mentoring version (CHP-M) with a community care condition for young people with ADHD. What Evans and his colleagues found was that the CHP-AS programme led to significant improvements in organization and time management skills, less homework problems, improved attention, better overall academic functioning and higher grade-point averages. What is more is that these improvements were maintained with some improvement even occurring later on after the programme was completed, suggesting that generalisation of learning occurred.
The CHP-AS program is primarily a training intervention as opposed to a behaviour management intervention and therefore involves extensive instruction and practice to establish change. In Evans et al’s., study, the young people attended CHP-AS twice weekly throughout the school year, with each session including individual and group components that targeted personal development, social impairment, education and study skills, and homework. The programme required a team of fully trained undergraduate counsellors to conduct the weekly sessions. This issue alone casts doubt on the practicality of implementing a programme like CHP-AS on a wider scale. As well as this the structure of the group may not have been ideal in that the treatment group were required to stay late after school twice weekly for a full academic year. These issues bring to light the relative obstacles facing effective school-based interventions such as CHP-AS for young people with ADHD.
Nevertheless the potential for training programmes such as CHP-AS are clear. This current evidence demonstrates how conducting supportive treatment within the setting that is often most challenging for young people with ADHD, can lead to significant gains and greater generalisability of learning. Interventions like CHP-AS contrast somewhat to other treatments that are typically centred on behaviour management and that are usually carried out in the home or in a clinical setting. While the current evidence does not detract from clinical treatment options, it does support the notion of improved connectivity between school and home supports. While widespread availability of intensive programmes for students with ADHD may be some way off as of yet, school settings should take heed of these findings in order to develop support programmes for their students that cater to their needs for additional training and practice. These programmes could act to supplement additional support services being accessed at home and therefore lead to even greater outcomes for young people with ADHD.
This article referenced can be accessed here
Ms. Niamh Allen, M.A. B.Sc.