Can parents treat ADHD? The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says the first line of treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should be parental management. Moms and Dads--and other caregivers--should receive training in caring for and managing ADHD kids. Next comes counselling, for older kids. Drugs, NICE says, should be reserved for kids with severe ADHD or used as a last resort for other children. And they should never be given to kids under 5 years.
NICE's new treatment guidelines come at a time of intense debate over the prevalence of ADHD drug use among youngsters. Prescriptions in the UK, for instance, doubled between 1998 and 2004. But many parents and teachers hail the drugs for their ability to help difficult children learn and behave in the classroom and at home.
NICE also says that, when drugs are prescribed, they should be part of a treatment plan that includes "psychological and behavioral interventions."
Experts figure that actual drug use won't change much initially. But it seems that growth in ADHD drugs could be curtailed over time. And because NICE's decisions are closely watched in Europe and elsewhere, the policy could spread.