Parents need to carefully evaluate treatment choices when their child receives a diagnosis of ADD. When they pursue treatment for their children, families face high out-of-pocket expenses because treatment for ADD (and other mental illnesses) is often not covered by insurance policies. In schools, treatment plans are often poorly integrated. In addition, there are few special education funds directed specifically for ADD. All of these factors lead to children who do not receive proper and adequate treatment. To overcome these barriers, parents may want to look for school-based programs that have a team approach involving parents, teachers, school psychologists, other mental health specialists, and physicians.
There is no cure for ADD. Children with the disorder seldom outgrow it; however, some may find adaptive ways to accommodate the ADD as they mature.
Brain imaging research using a technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown that differences exist between the brains of children with and without ADD. In addition, there appears to be a link between a person's ability to pay continued attention and the use of glucose -- the body's major fuel -- in the brain. In adults with ADD, the brain areas that control attention use less glucose and appear to be less active, suggesting that a lower level of activity in some parts of the brain may cause inattention.
Research also shows that the condition tends to run in families, so there are likely to be genetic influences. Children who have ADD usually have at least 1 close relative who also has it. At least one-third of all fathers who had ADD in their youth have children with ADD. Even more convincing of a possible genetic link is that when 1 twin of an identical twin pair has the disorder, the other is likely to have it too.
Research has also shown that the use of stimulants alone is more effective than behavioral therapies in controlling the core symptoms of ADD -- inattention and aggression. In other areas of functioning (such as anxiety symptoms, academic performance, and social skills) the combination of stimulant use with intensive behavioral therapies was consistently more effective. Researchers continue to track these children into adolescence to evaluate the long-term outcomes of these treatments, and ongoing reports will be published.