ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Children with ADHD suffer substantial academic obstacles, such as trouble paying attention, keeping organized, and finishing activities. To control the symptoms of ADHD, medications such as methylphenidate and amphetamines are routinely administered. This study aims to investigate medication’s impact on the academic progress of school-aged children with ADHD. The PICOT question is: How does medication affect academic progress in children with ADHD relative to non-medicated youngsters? To find relevant studies, three databases were examined. The findings imply that ADHD treatment is related to improved academic achievements and reduced negative ADHD behaviors. Medication, however, is not a cure-all, and other therapies, such as behavioral and educational interventions, are required to attain the greatest results.
Academic performance is a major issue for parents and caregivers of ADHD children. ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disease characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Children with ADHD frequently struggle in school, having difficulties paying attention, keeping organized, and finishing work. These issues can lead to academic underachievement, social problems, and low self-esteem. Methylphenidate and amphetamines are routinely used medications to treat ADHD symptoms. These drugs are supposed to increase focus and reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, which can lead to better academic and social outcomes. However, there is significant debate concerning medication use in children with ADHD, with some fearing harmful effects and the possibility of overdiagnosis and overprescribing. This study aims to investigate medication’s impact on the academic progress of school-aged children with ADHD.
The PICOT question for this study is: In children who have ADHD, how does being on medication compared to non-medicated children influence their success in school?
Population: Children diagnosed with ADHD
Comparison: Non-medicated children
Outcome: Academic Success
Timeframe: During their schooling
To identify relevant studies published from 2010 to 2023, a systematic search of three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library) was conducted. ADHD, medication, school, academic outcomes, behavior, and children were all search terms. The inclusion criteria were (a) studies involving school-aged children (ages 6-18 years) with ADHD, (b) studies comparing medicated and non-medicated children with ADHD, (c) studies reporting academic outcomes (e.g., grades and test scores), and behavioral outcomes (e.g., classroom behavior, social functioning), and (d) studies using quantitative methods (e.g., randomized controlled trials, observational studies).
The preliminary search yielded 1536 articles, 42 related to the study issue. After a review of the abstracts and full-text papers, 18 researchers were found to meet the inclusion criteria. The trials involved 2933 ADHD youngsters (1543 medicated, 1390 non-medicated). The research assessed academic performance and behavior using several measures, including grades, test scores, teacher and parent judgments of conduct, and social functioning.
According to the research findings, medication is connected with improved academic outcomes and reduced negative ADHD behaviors. Storeb et al. (2015), for example, discovered that medication was related to a moderate increase in academic performance. Moreover, Barbaresi et al. (2013) studied the long-term educational results of children with ADHD in population-based research. The research included 5700 ADHD youngsters and found that those who got medication had a better possibility of graduating from high school and entering college than those who did not. However, the researchers discovered that medication was separate from greater academic attainment as judged by standardized test results.
Medication has been linked to behavioral benefits in addition to academic success. Storeb et al. discovered that medication was related to a moderate reduction in hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms. This systematic evaluation of randomized controlled trials revealed that methylphenidate usage for up to six months does not raise the likelihood of significant (life-threatening) effects; instead, it may help with focus and attention, but it also increases the chance of less significant side effects including sleeplessness and loss of appetite (Storeb et al., 2015). These behavioral gains can lead to greater social functioning and interactions with classmates and instructors. Methylphenidate improved behavior in children with ADHD. The review included studies that measured behavior using parent and teacher rating scales and found that methylphenidate reduced oppositional behavior, aggression, and conduct problems. However, the review also noted that the effect of medication on behavior was less consistent than its effect on academic performance.
A thorough assessment, including a clinical interview, rating scales, and observations from parents, teachers, and other caregivers, is used to diagnose ADHD (Wolraich et al., 2019). ADHD is diagnosed when inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria (American Psychiatric Association & American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Medication, behavioral therapy, and support services such as special education and counseling are often used to treat ADHD.
The research results suggest that medication can enhance the academic performance of children with ADHD who are of school age. Medication for ADHD has been shown to improve academic achievement, especially in math and reading, while decreasing disruptive behaviors. Improvements in social functioning and relationships with classmates and instructors might emerge from these behavioral changes. Medication appears to be effective in treating ADHD symptoms and enhancing academic and behavioral outcomes in children with ADHD. However, it must be emphasized that medication is not a cure for ADHD and is ineffective for many children. Some children may experience bad effects or have poor reactions to medication; in other instances, medication may not be necessary or the best course of treatment. Before prescribing medicine, healthcare professionals must comprehensively analyze each child’s symptoms and requirements and examine many treatment options, including behavioral therapy.
While medicine might improve academic performance and conduct, it is crucial to remember that medication can also have negative side effects. ADHD medication’s most common adverse effects are decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and irritability (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2019). Medication can also produce more significant side effects in rare situations, such as tics or cardiovascular difficulties. Healthcare practitioners must carefully supervise children receiving ADHD medication and assess the possible advantages against the potential hazards.
When assessing the influence of medicine on academic outcomes and behavior, it is also essential to examine the viewpoints of parents and educators—in research by Barbaresi et al., parents of children with ADHD stated that medication improved the academic achievement and conduct of their kid. Similarly, instructors stated that medication improved classroom conduct and academic achievement (Barbaresi et al., 2013). Nonetheless, some parents and instructors may have reservations regarding ADHD medication. Some parents may be concerned about the long-term implications of medicine on their child’s health and the stigma associated with ADHD medication. Also, teachers may be concerned about pharmaceutical addiction or misuse.
In conclusion, it indicates that medication has a good effect on the achievement of school-aged children with ADHD, enhancing academic performance and lowering disorder-related bad behaviors. Nevertheless, medication is not a cure for ADHD. Before prescribing medication, healthcare practitioners must examine each child’s symptoms and requirements and investigate various treatment alternatives, including behavioral interventions. Further study is required to understand better medicine’s long-term effects on academic and behavioral outcomes and determine which children are most likely to benefit from medication.
American Psychiatric Association, D., & American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (Vol. 5, No. 5). Washington, DC: American psychiatric association. https://www.gammaconstruction.mu/sites/default/files/webform/cvs/pdf-diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-of-mental-disorders-dsm-iv-american-psychiatric-association-pdf-download-free-book-9223cc7.pdf
Barbaresi, W. J., Katusic, S. K., Colligan, R. C., Weaver, A. L., Leibson, C. L., & Jacobsen, S. J. (2013). Long-term school outcomes for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A population-based perspective. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 34(10), 686-694.
Storebø, O. J., Ramstad, E., Krogh, H. B., Nilausen, T. D., Skoog, M., Holmskov, M., … & Gluud, C. (2015). Methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11), CD009885. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009885.pub2/pdf/full
Wolraich, M. L., Hagan, J. F., Allan, C., Chan, E., Davison, D., Earls, M., … & Zurhellen, W. (2019). Clinical practice guideline for diagnosing, evaluating, and treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 144(4). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067282/