New Program Helps Schools Support Local Students Who Have ADHD

Friday, March 16, 2007

At a time when as many as five percent of children in Cincinnati schools are suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a new program to help schools support these students and their parents has been launched by the Center for ADHD at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Jeff Epstein, PhD, psychologist leading the Center, said that students with ADHD face severe difficulties coping in a school environment.

Epstein noted that these children may be unable to sit still, plan ahead, finish tasks or be fully aware of what's going on around them. To others, they seem to exist in a whirlwind of disorganized or frenzied activity.

Because of the need for local school districts to understand and deal with students suffering from ADHD, Epstein and Joshua Langberg, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Cincinnati Children's, are assisting schools in implementing evidence-based school programs.

In 2004, Cincinnati Children's developed their first evidence-based mental health guidelines for the diagnosis and management of ADHD based on similar guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in October 2001. Cincinnati Children's guidelines included recommendations for the management of ADHD that were based on new evidence not available at the time the AAP guidelines were published.

The school-based ADHD programs help children and their families with organization, time management and study skills. Cincinnati Children's experts also assist school districts with allocating current legislative funds for students suffering from ADHD, as well as write and find grants that will support additional help for these children.

Local educators say the program is needed and welcomed. "Nationally, there is a disproportionate number of ADHD students who are being referred for special education. Our job as a school district is to implement programs that will help the students without having to place them in special education," said Mari Phillips, EdD, associate superintendent at Princeton City School District.

Langberg and Princeton City School District launched a pilot after-school program in January 2007. School principals and counselors identified 48 students and their families from Springdale Elementary and Princeton Community Middle School. University of Cincinnati psychology students (juniors and seniors), with supervision from psychologists at Cincinnati Children's, provide after-school organization and time management interventions. Topics include:

  • Bookbag, binder and locker organization
  • Test-taking and study skills
  • Improving homework completion by remembering to bring materials home, planning an evening schedule and accurately recording homework assignments

Princeton City School District used grant money from the state department to support students with disabilities. Fifteen percent of the grant money was allocated toward early intervening services and prevention programs. Some of the children in the pilot program were diagnosed with ADHD while others were identified with organizational problems.

In June, the District will review the baseline data and academic progress for the six month period. "If it's successful at these two schools, we would look at expanding the program," said Phillips.

Other examples of evidence-based practices currently being used at local schools through the new ADHD Center at Cincinnati Children's include teacher training to effectively manage children in the classroom and parent training to help monitor their child's behavior and provide effective skills at home.

"For parents, having a school-based program provides a convenient and comfortable setting for their children to receive services," said Dr. Langberg. "For the students, it makes sense to provide intervention in the same environment where many of their difficulties are occurring."

The new Center for ADHD at Cincinnati Children's offers leading research and clinical experts through the Divisions of Clinical Medicine and Behavioral Psychology. In addition to the school-based programs, other initiatives under way include the ADHD Task Force to train community pediatricians in the evidence-based diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD, two neuropsychology research studies on how the brain responds to ADHD medications, and a web portal for parents and pediatricians to track the severity of their child's ADHD symptoms throughout treatment.

Cincinnati Children's, one of the top five children's hospitals in the nation according to Child magazine, is a 475-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. For its efforts to transform the way health care is provided, Cincinnati Children's received the 2006 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize". Cincinnati Children's ranks second nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and is a teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Amy Caruso, 513-636-5637,