Care at Children's

There are behavioral treatments and medicines that work well for ADHD. Classroom and other school based supports can help improve a child’s functioning at school.

Psychotherapy (behavioral treatments)

  • For younger children:
    Most counseling programs primarily involve parents. Parents work collaboratively with a therapist to discuss and implement behavioral strategies to improve the child’s behavior, using techniques such as attending to good behavior and using time-out for impairing negative behaviors.
  • For older children and teenagers:
    Both children and their parents are actively involved in treatment. Counseling may help the child or adolescent manage problems in their social relationships, with peers and with parents, their academic performance, and being organized.


Medication treatments can help children with ADHD:

  • Focus on one task and ignore distractions
  • Better control their energy level
  • Think before acting, especially when frustrated

Many medications have been well-studied and are FDA-approved to treat ADHD. With either medication or psychotherapy, it is important to focus on improvement in functioning (for example- has the child’s behavior in the classroom improved and are they getting their homework done more efficiently) and not just change in symptoms.

Departments offering ADHD services at Penn State Children’s Hospital


Penn State Medical Group Psychiatry
22 NE Drive, Hershey, PA (across from the Tanger Outlets)

The program specializes in treating ADHD in children who have other mental health concerns including:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Aggression
  • Other behavior problems

The program also treats ADHD in teens and adults.

Groups, Classes & Support

Children’s Hospital Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a number of special programs to treat ADHD. These include:

  • Group therapy programs that offer support for parents and help develop effective social skills in children
  • Individual counseling services to help manage problematic behaviors at home
  • Medication treatments for ADHD

For the group therapy program call 717-531-1035. For other services call 717-531-6772.

For more information on Child ADHD, please use the following resources:

Research & Clinical Trials

Children’s Hospital has a number of specialized research programs that offer treatment for ADHD. These include:

  • Counseling programs that are just for girls
  • Programs that focus on improving sleep in children with ADHD
  • Programs that focus on reducing aggressive or defiant behaviors

For any of these programs call 717 531 0003 x285968 or for more information please visit our Research and Clinical Trials.

Other Programs that offer treatment services for children with ADHD at Penn State Health include:

For any of these programs call 717-531-6807.

  • Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services, 717-782-6493 (all PPI services housed at PPI Campus on 2501 N 3rd St Harrisburg, PA)
    • Counseling and medication treatments for children and adolescents with ADHD

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook

ADHD may appear as problems with:

  • Paying attention
  • Sitting still
  • Keeping behavior under control
  • Failing to think before acting

For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, these problems must:

  • Have been present for at least 6 months
  • Be more intense than would be expected for a child that age
  • Make it hard for the child to do well at school or home

Children with ADHD may also have problems with:

  • Getting along with friends, siblings and adults
  • Following rules at home or school
  • Academics and learning

When making a diagnosis of ADHD, it is important to assess the patient’s performance in these important areas of daily life functioning. Research shows that ADHD is not just a childhood problem. Many patients will keep having symptoms and impairment into their teen years and adulthood. Therefore, it is vital to evaluate from time to time how children with ADHD are doing as they get older.

There are many effective treatments for ADHD. Both medication and behavioral treatments are effective at reducing the level of impairing symptoms and either can be used as the initial treatment. However, these treatments do not cure ADHD. Producing sustained and meaningful improvements in long term functioning usually requires a team approach involving the patient, family, school and medical providers. While approximately one third of children with ADHD are not impaired by their ADHD as adults, one third of children will continue to meet full diagnostic criteria for ADHD when they are young adults, and an additional third will still exhibit some but not all of their ADHD symptoms.


To make a diagnosis of ADHD, the child’s functioning at home and school needs to be assessed in a systematic fashion. Simply having a behavior or focus problem does not mean that these problems are due to ADHD. The diagnostic process usually starts with rating scales that measure the symptoms of ADHD as well as the impairment, and these ratings are typically completed by the child’s parents and teachers. It is also important to determine that the problems with attention or impulsivity are not due to another medical or mental health disorder. In some cases, additional psychological testing may be needed to verify the diagnosis. In many cases, the initial diagnosis can be made by a pediatrician or other primary care doctor. More complex cases are usually referred to a mental health specialist such as a child psychologist or psychiatrist. When following these basic guidelines, ADHD can be reliably diagnosed down to age 4.

We can help

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