and Strategies for Positive Behavior:
Intensive Intervention Programs & Strategies:
Coordinated Medical Interventions
Students who have received a thorough medical evaluation with input
from parents and educators and whom are considered to benefit from
the use of medication.
Medication is sometimes used to address behaviors that interfere
with student learning. However the use of medication with school-age
children remains highly controversial. Opponents argue that quality
educational programming for children and adolescents with behavior
and emotional problems is being replaced by attempts to find a quick
cure, and note that many medications now prescribed for children
were approved only for adults. Notwithstanding, research has indicated
the positive impact of a number of medications on student behavior
and academic performance when compared to other treatments. It should
be noted, however, that schools must follow local procedures when
administering psychiatric medications to students. This ordinarily
means trying a number of different behavioral interventions before
prescribing medication. If these other interventions do not evidence
any or much effectiveness within a period of a month or more, then
school personnel may consider recommending medication to treat the
student's problem. It should also be noted that even when medication
works properly, other interventions, including sound educational
instruction and positive behavioral supports, are still needed to
ensure student success.
used, medications can increase the success of non-medical interventions,
enhance quality educational programming and allow a student to be
educated in a less restrictive, home-school environment. Central
nervous system stimulants (i.e., Ritalin, Dexedrine, & Cylert)
for example, are sometimes used to treat children with Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When working properly, these
stimulants can reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness,
and increase concentration level. In addition, psychopharmacotherapy
research has suggested that a number of medications including antidepressants,
stimulants, nonstimulants, and others may be effective in treating
various internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
is important to keep in mind several points when students in your
school are receiving medication. First, acquire a working knowledge
of medication as a treatment intervention. Second, make certain
that students receive medication on schedule. Generally, this means
reminding students to go to the nurse's office to take their medicine.
Third, observe student's behavior and note instances that support
or do not support the use or dosage level of medication, or that
suggest the presence of side effects. If side effects occur, a teacher
or other school staff member should notify the school nurse or other
appropriate school personnel (e.g., a psychologist and/or nurse),
and/or the student's family. Fourth, closely monitor the effects
of psychopharmacological intervention by systematically observing
and assessing student behavior and academic performance. Such information
is useful in determining the appropriateness of a particular medication
as well as dosage.
A study carried out by the MTA Cooperative Group (1999) on treatments
for ADHD in children showed that the most effective interventions
included medication - either on its own or in conjunction with behavioral
interventions. -Comprehensive behavioral intervention without use
of medication , however, did not yield significant behavioral change.
Outcome measures used in this study included teacher-rated social
skills and reading achievement.
& Additional Resources
Hutchens, T.A., Canter, A.S., & Carroll, S.A. (1998). Medications
for children with behavior and emotional problems: A primer for
parents. Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.
S.A. (1998). Medical management of behavior and emotional problems
in children and adolescents: A primer for educators. Washington,
DC: National Association of School Psychologists.
Cooperative Group. (1999). A 14-month randomized clinical trial
of treatment strategies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Archives of General Psychiatry, 56, 1073-1086.
M.M., Osher, D., Warger, C., Hanley, T.V., Bader, B.D., & Hoffman,
C. (2000). Teaching and working with children who have emotional
and behavioral challenges. Longmont, CO: Sopris West. Available: