Volume 22, Issue 2 (1993)
Effects of Methylphenidate on the Academic Performance of Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Learning Disabilities
Caryn L. Carlson, Melissa R. Bunner
This article reviews studies that have examined the effects of psychostimulant medications on learning and achievement in children with ADHD. Studies of stimulant effects on laboratory measures of learning and cognition are briefly discussed, but the primary focus is on studies of medication effects on measures of classroom academic performance and standardized achievement. With the recent increase in interest in this topic, a relatively large number of studies have been conducted with a variety of samples, including boys with ADHD (with and without concurrent disorders) and girls, children with learning disabilities, and adolescents with ADHD. Overall, across these samples, studies of acute effects on daily classroom performance (e.g., seat work completion) consistently reveal substantial beneficial effects of medication. Studies of achievement over periods of months and years, however, fail to yield evidence of beneficial medication effects. Possible explanations for this discrepancy are discussed. Individual differences in response to medication are highlighted, and the importance of assessing medication effects on academic performance in the classroom is emphasized.
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