Two ADHD media posts I viewed today demonstrate some examples of the right and the horribly wrong ways to deal with children with ADHD. A recent study out of the University of Buffalo shows that praise of the potential for rewards improves the performance of children with ADHD on certain cognitive tasks. Prior to this it was not known if increased motivation accounted for this improvement or if children with ADHD scored lower than other children on these tests so had more room for improvement. This study indicated that increased external motivation is a critical factor in improving the performance of children with ADHD. Positive reinforcement, rather than punishment is the corner stone of behaviour therapy for children with ADHD. The study looked at whether children with ADHD have an increased sensitivity to external motivation and found that this was indeed the case. This would make perfect sense when taking into consideration Russell Barkley’s information on Executive Functioning impairment and the role it plays in self-regulation and motivation.
On the other hand, it seems that many uninformed people still believe that negative consequences are the way to improve the behaviour of children with ADHD. In the news last night and in several posts today including the Huffington Post you can view a very disturbing video of a Sherriff’s deputy placing handcuffs on the biceps of an 8 year old as a consequence of misbehaving in class. Apparently this has happened before and a lawsuit has now been launched.