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Treating Parents with ADHD and their Children

ADHD has a strong genetic component and, as a result, many parents and children within the same family struggle with ADHD. When parents have their own difficulties with attention, organization, planning and/or emotion regulation, it can make parenting a child with ADHD even more challenging. These families may benefit from a more comprehensive approach that involves combining treatment for the parent with behavioral therapy focused on parenting skills. 

 

With funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health and in collaboration with Dr. Mark Stein at Seattle Children’s Hospital, we are working with co-located psychologists at Children’s National Health System pediatric satellite clinics and researchers elsewhere to screen parents of young children and provide treatment to these families. Shifting this work into pediatric primary care will ensure that treatment is more accessible and that it is implemented earlier in the child’s development.

 

In our new NIMH-funded study, we will randomly assign families to receive parent ADHD medication plus behavioral parent training or behavioral parent training alone. Treatment will be delivered via telehealth, meaning through the parents’ mobile phones, tablets, or computers (rather than in person). This telehealth approach is designed to make treatment more convenient for busy families. 

 

Through this study, we will learn which approach is most helpful in improving parent, child and family functioning for families in which a parent and child experience ADHD symptoms.


BEAM-S

Behaviorally Enhancing Adolescents’ Mood in Schools

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Children with ADHD experience a high risk for depression in adolescence and young adulthood, and the presence of ADHD and depression together is associated with far greater impairment than either disorder alone. So far, no existing evidence-based prevention or intervention program for adolescents with ADHD has resulted in reduced depressive symptoms. Furthermore, even though these mental health issues are prevalent among children and adolescents, nearly 80% of youth do not receive any services, highlighting the gap between need and access to mental health care. Given the immense lack of access to care, maximizing opportunities for mental health service delivery represents a major mental health priority.

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With funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, we have proposed an evidence-based depression prevention program called BEAM-S (Behaviorally Enhancing Adolescents’ Mood in Schools) for high school students with ADHD and co-occurring mood difficulties. The aim is to refine the program with involvement from various members of the community and to launch a randomized controlled trial with Baltimore City high schools to assess its effectiveness in reducing depressive symptoms and overall impairment in program participants. Additionally, we will work within the school mental health framework to train and coach school staff in the implementation of the program to determine its feasibility and to ensure that it is sustainable in school settings.


Helping Young Inhibited Children Come Out of Their Shells

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Approximately 15% of young children experience distress and avoidance in the face of new situations that may interfere with social participation at daycare/school, extracurricular activities (e.g., soccer, gymnastics), and social events (e.g., birthday parties). Unfortunately, over time, this temperament style may place them at risk for the later development of anxiety disorders. For decades, we have examined various factors that increase or decrease this risk.

 

With funding from the National Institutes of Health and in collaboration with Dr. Ken Rubin in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at UMD, we developed an intervention for young children with elevated behavioral inhibition and their parents to reduce risk for later negative outcomes. We are now conducting a large-scale clinical trial to compare two active interventions to see which works best for which children and families.

 

We are recruiting 3 - 5-year-old children and their parents who are enrolled in a structured daycare, preschool or kindergarten who display inhibition and shyness in social situations. If you are interested in participating in this intervention study, please contact our research team at littleturtles@umd.edu.