Over 5 Million Children are Currently Treated with ADHD Medication
Study Shows a Majority May Be Unnecessarily Medicated

(unedited press release distributed by PR Newswire)


PROVIDENCE, R.I., Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In a new study published today in the American Journal of Family Therapy, lead researcher Dr. Robert M. Pressman announces for the first time a direct link between bedtime routines and behavior that mimics ADHD in children. The findings propose that of the over 5 million children who are now being treated with ADHD medication, a majority may be suffering from Faux-ADHD, a disorder linked to irregular bedtimes and bed sharing, and does not require medication. The study conducted by researchers at the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology and the Rhode Island College Department of Special Education suggests that simple adjustments to bedtime habits, rather than medication, can eliminate ADHD-like behavior, such as poor attention and hyperactivity.

Although only 5-9 percent of children have ADHD, according to the study, 33 percent of children surveyed were recommended ADHD medication. Unlike ADHD, Faux-ADHD is up to 8 times more responsive to changes in bedtime routines. Additional key study findings included:

Children Who Did Not Sleep In Their Own Beds

  • Had ADHD-like behaviors 7 times more frequently than children who always slept in their own bed.
  • Hit, pushed, or kicked their parents 13 times more frequently than children who always slept in their own bed.

Children Who Did Not Have a Regular Bedtime

  • Had ADHD-like behaviors 8 times more frequently than children who had a regular bedtime.
  • Hit, pushed or kicked their parents 10 times more frequently than children who had a regular bedtime.

The study consisted of 704 parents of children, ages 2-13, who were being seen in pediatricians' offices. Selection of offices was made by cluster sampling in Providence, RI, resulting in 14 data collection sites. Data was collected by a questionnaire constructed to assess 14 categorical responses. The chi-square test was used to analyze categorical pairs. "Pediatricians, therapists, and parents need to reassess the questions asked when diagnosing ADHD," said Dr. Pressman. "Bedtime habits must be reviewed at intake and bedtime problems explored before ADHD medication is considered." Dr. Pressman, co-founder of GoodParentGoodChild, a comprehensive parenting resource, has written several books on the topic, including Good Nights Now. More information about these materials and the study may be found at www.GoodParentGoodChild.org.

Comments on the study

From WebMD: Andrew Adesman, MD, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., finds Pressman's study interesting but warns against over-interpreting the results.

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[...] "Perhaps parents who are more willing to give in to a child's sleep-behavioral problems may be more prone to have children with manipulative behavior and aggression," Adesman suggests. "And parents who have trouble setting limits on daytime behavior are also more likely to have difficulties with nighttime behavior."

Other views

Simple assessments of bedtime behaviors are clearly valuable but it is worth considering that this is more an indicator of other family problems. From the book Family Therapy for ADHD

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Frustrated parents of ADHD children report their own continuing sense of inadequacy and feelings that they are ineffective in their parenting skills and roles. Typically they lack consistency, firmness, and structure, as well as an ability to confer and function as a coparent team with their spouse. This sense of inadequacy leads many parents to engage in reactive, if not abusive, responses toward their children.

The views of Michael Etts, LCSW-C

Difficulty setting limits or boundaries about bed times suggest larger issues. The whole topic of limit setting may be a source of conflict between the parents, as each has their own style and methods. There are many approaches to treating family issues such as those that surround ADHD and ADHD like symptoms. The one I favor is the "transactional model." This focuses on the predispositions of both the parent and the child and seeks to improve the compatibility of both. This might include anger management counseling for both the parent(s) and the child, removing the obstacles to consistent parenting and lessening the anxiety of the family unit as a whole.