Making Treatment Decisions

These days, families are faced with numerous treatment decisions.  With so many choices, it is often hard to know what to do to help your child or teen.

In this article, Dr. Davenport outlines research-based multimodal treatment options and suggests questions to ask when faced with any of the numerous alternative treatments available.  

Multimodal Treatment Works Best

According to the National Resource Center on ADHD, current research shows that children and teens with ADHD benefit most from a multimodal approach to treatment that includes a combination of the following components.

Research from the landmark National Institute of Mental Health Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD (1999) showed that children who received this combination of treatment strategies showed significant improvement in their behavior at home and success at school plus better relationships with their classmates and family.

  • Treatment should be tailored to the unique needs of each child and family.  In other words, it’s about figuring out what works for your child and your family.  I believe this should be first and foremost as you consider research-based information.

  • Parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment helps you and your child best understand what ADHD is, what it is not, and how it’s best addressed.  Resources listed on this website were chosen to provide you the best information possible.

  • Behavior management techniques designed to teach you and your child specific skills to address his or her executive functioning needs.

  • School supports designed to accommodate your child’s weak executive skills and behavior challenges in the classroom setting.

  • Medication can be effective at getting 70-80 percent of children with ADD/ADHD focused so they can take advantage of the other three parts of this approach.   The decision to try medication is a difficult one that each family must make with the assistance of their child’s physician.

Now that you have the best research-based treatment information, the decision is yours.  I know firsthand that these are not easy choices!  But, you know your child or teen better than anyone else so you are most empowered to make these decisions.

What about treatment of Executive Functioning challenges?

Read Dr. Davenport’s article on this subject. 

What about alternative or complimentary treatments?

Out in the real world, there are a lot of complementary and alternative treatments to this research-based multimodal approach, and oftentimes they all sound as if they can help your child.  Here’s where you should proceed with caution because not all treatments are created equal and some of these can be costly.  It’s important to consider the quality of the research behind these approaches before spending your hard-earned dollars.

To help you in making the right choices, the National Resource Center on ADHD also provides a fact sheet about complementary and alternative treatments in which they state:

An alternative treatment is defined as “any treatment — other than prescription medication or standard psychosocial/behavioral treatments — that claims to treat the symptoms of ADHD with an equally or more effective outcome.”

Complementary interventions are not considered alternatives to multimodal treatment, but are defined as “found by some families to add to and improve the treatment of ADHD symptoms or related symptoms.”

Controversial treatments are defined as “interventions with no known published science supporting them and no legitimate claim to effectiveness.”

The National Resource Center on ADHD states that before actually using any of these interventions, families and individuals are encouraged to ask providers for copies of the research behind their approach and then they should consult with their medical doctors.

The National Resource Center on ADHD lists the pros and cons of many of these treatments in two “What We Know Fact Sheets”



Although they have become a popular among teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics  (AAP) has clearly said that energy drinks are not appropriate for children or teens.   The AAP’s testimony to congress details the effects of caffeine on children and teens.

Not sure how to read research?

You’re not alone!  And, research results can be really tricky to tease out of journal articles.  Read Dr. Davenport’s posts on how to read research to see if a treatment approach would help your child.

Need help making treatment decisions?

If you need additional guidance making treatment decisions for your child, call 817.421.8780 to discuss how we can help.


Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only.  This article is not intended to provide medical advice, legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Consult your physician regarding all medical manners.


(c) 2009-2014, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.