ADHD—What Causes Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and How Is It Treated?

View spanish version, share, or print this article.

Understanding attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) helps you understand how it affects your child. Read on for information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the causes and treatments for ADHD.

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most studied conditions of childhood, and it may be caused by a number of things.

Research to date has shown

There is no scientific evidence that ADHD is caused by

How is ADHD treated?

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the outlook for most children who receive treatment of ADHD is encouraging. There is no specific cure for ADHD, but many treatment options are available to manage the condition. Some children and adults learn to compensate for the symptoms as they mature so that they no longer require treatment.

Each child's treatment must be tailored to meet his individual needs. In most cases, treatment of ADHD should include A long-term management plan with

Treatment of ADHD is based on the same principles that are used to treat other chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. Long-term planning for many children is needed. Families must manage chronic conditions continually. In the case of ADHD, schools and other caregivers must also be involved in managing the condition.

Educating the people involved with your child is a key part of treatment of ADHD. As a parent, you will need to learn about the condition. Read about it and talk with people who understand it. This will help you manage the ways ADHD affects your child and your family day to day. It will also help your child learn to help himself.

What are target outcomes?

At the beginning of treatment, your child's doctor should help your family set up to 3 target outcomes (goals) for your child. These target outcomes will guide the treatment plan. Your child's target outcomes should be chosen to help him function as well as possible at home, at school, and in your community. You and your child should identify what is preventing him from succeeding.

Here are examples of target outcomes.

The target outcomes should be

Your child's treatment plan will be set up to help achieve these goals.

Visit HealthyChildren.org for more information.

Adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics patient education booklet, Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.