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Study: Stimulant Medications for Kids with ADHD Do Not Improve Learning

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June 9, 2022Stimulant medication does not help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) learn academic lessons more thoroughly or more quickly, according to new research that dispels long-held beliefs about treatment.“Although it has been believed for decades that medication effects on academic seatwork, productivity, and classroom behavior would translate into improved learning of new academic material, we found no such translation,” researchers reported in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.1, 2A controlled study evaluating the impact of stimulant medication on learning was conducted by scientists at the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University (FIU) in a summer classroom setting.

Participants included 173 children with ADHD between the ages of 7 and 12 who attended the center’s eight-week summer camp program (77% were male, 23% were female; 86% were Hispanic, and 10% were Black).

Children completed two consecutive phases of daily, 25-minute, grade-level instruction in vocabulary, science, and social studies.Each child randomly received extended-release methylphenidate (Concerta) during either the first or second instructional phase and a placebo during the other.

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