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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Behavior Modification Techniques

02/03/2003

Question:

My son was diagnosed with ADD in junior high and began taking Ritalin, which he still takes "as needed" today. He is bright and creative, but at 26 continues to make impulsive decisions that have bad consequences. He plans to start his own business as a remodeler/builder, but needs a strategy for controlling his impulsivity or he will not succeed. He`s married and has two children, so there is a lot at stake in his quest for self-employment. What specific behavior modification techniques are available to help him? Are there other routes he should explore?

Answer:

Your description of your son sounds like the description of many young adults with ADD; bright, creative, and committed to a dream that may never be realized in spite of hard work, dedication and passion. First and foremost, if your son feels he wants help, he should search out a knowledgeable professional who can work with him. There are some behavioral techniques that may be helpful although a good professional is much more valuable than a “list” because s/he can tailor the learning to the client. If your son has repeatedly shown problematic, impulsive choices, he will likely benefit far more from combining behavioral work with medication. Most goal-oriented adults with ADD who take medication, but only sporadically, have never found a medication and/or dose they are comfortable with. Every day there are more and more alternatives pharmaceutically and good specialists are practicing in most geographical areas of the U.S. who can help titrate medications to his physical and psychologic specifications. I am going to ask one of my colleagues at The Affinity Center, Dr. Doug Pentz, to answer your question in more detail next week. He is an excellent Clinical Psychologist who has devoted his life’s work to helping others with ADD and related disorders. I`ll publish his suggestions right here on my site. In the mean time, your son may find some worthwhile recommendations of professionals to see if he contacts his local chapter of CHADD. He should be able to find information about his closest chapter through their website at the end of this response. With much empathy and warmth, Susan. 

Related Resources:

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati