Mindfulness vs. Medication — Which is More Effective for ADHD?

Richard Goleman recently put together a great article for the New York Times titled “Exercising the Mind to Treat Attention Deficits.” In it, he looks at the findings of several studies on ADHD that compare the effectiveness of ADHD medications vs. brain-based therapy and cognitive training. The surprising result? Training your brain works better than medication for reducing ADHD symptoms.

“There are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking A.D.H.D. medications,” says psychologist James M. Swanson. He argues that a more proactive solution may come from “training the same areas of the brain that have reduced activity in A.D.H.D.”

“Poor planning, wandering attention and trouble inhibiting impulses all signify lapses in cognitive control. Now a growing stream of research suggests that strengthening this mental muscle, usually with exercises in so-called mindfulness, may help children and adults cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and its adult equivalent, attention deficit disorder.”

Goleman notes that terms like “mindfulness” and “cognitive control” serve as sort of blanket statements for brain functions like “delay of gratification, impulse management, emotional self-regulation or self-control, the suppression of irrelevant thoughts, and paying attention or learning readiness.” Here at LearningWorks for Kids, we simply call them “thinking skills.”

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, we welcome you to take our quick mini-assessment to find out which thinking skills your child needs the most help with. It’s free, fast and easy. Best of all, you’ll be shown some fun games and apps that you can download right away to start helping your child exercise these skills.

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