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Adolescents can outgrow ADHD criteria, yet remain impaired

The Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP) hosted their 2018 Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California on September 14th - 17th, highlighting new scientific and clinical information. Topics included research and guideline updates, diagnostic and treatment implications as well as recommendations for several clinical disorders including autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and ADHD.  

One of the sessions concluding the meeting was presented by Steven W. Evans, Ph.D. from Ohio University and Center for Intervention Research in Schools (CIRS), Psychosocial Treatment for Adolescents with ADHD[1].A salient message from the session to healthcare providers, educators, and parents was that as children develop into adolescents, they may “outgrow” the DSM diagnostic criteria for ADHD, but not necessarily the impairment.

In this light, Dr. Evans presented the Life Course Model, the goal of which is to improve competencies of adolescents so that they can independently meet age-appropriate social, academic, and behavioral expectations using evidence-based approaches[1]. This model includes the development of foundation strategies to enhance home and school environments, psychosocial interventions to increase competencies and improve functioning, pharmacological treatment to improve symptoms and response to interventions, and adapting the environment to ensure student success.  During the session it was emphasized that approaches should not be intended to simply reduce expectations of the adolescent with ADHD, but rather should be implemented to teach and train skills that will carry over into adulthood education, work, and social functioning.  The FDA cleared online test QbCheck can be used to evaluate impairment and measure improvements post-treatment in a way that is not always captured by DSM based questionnaires [2].

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  1. Evans, S (2018, September 17). Psychosocial Treatment for Adolescents with ADHD.  Lecture presented at Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California [RETURN]
  2. 26. Bijlenga, D., Jasperse, M., Gehlhaar, S., & Sandra Kooij, J. (2015). Objective QbTest and subjective evaluation of stimulant treatment in adult attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. European Psychiatry, 30(1), 179-185. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2014.06.003  [RETURN]