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Drugs help ADHD kids in school

CHILDREN given stimulants to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms score higher on math and reading tests than children with the condition who do not get drugs, researchers have found.

A study that tracked 594 children with ADHD from kindergarten through fifth grade found the 60-percent kids prescribed drugs such as Ritalin performed better than those not given medication. But the children treated with drugs for ADHD still lagged behind children without the condition.

"We're not promoting drugs as the answer. But we did find medication does improve standardized math and reading scores in the long term," said Richard Scheffler of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the government-funded study's researchers.

"Our study found that the children with ADHD who used the medication were several months ahead of their non-medicated peers in reading and math, which is significant because early progress in school is critical to ongoing academic success."

Children with ADHD who are left untreated do poorly in school, with higher dropout rates and more substance abuse, arrests and social isolation. "They're labeled as bad kids," Scheffler said. "Drugs are part of the answer. But we need parent involvement, understanding what this is and how to work with the kid. We need the school to be involved. We also think that special services like tutoring need to be made available."


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