By Michael Ginsberg September is National ADHD Awareness Month and neuroscientists have released some pretty startling news: A long-term study of nearly 4,000 students* found that ADHD drugs, like Ritalin ™ and Adderall ™, don’t help achievement scores or grade point averages. In fact, according to the research, boys who took medications for ADHD actually performed worse in school than boys with similar symptoms who took no stimulant medications. Likewise, girls who took ADHD drugs reported more emotional problems. The same is true for intelligence; there seems to be no significant cognitive benefit from stimulant medications on IQ tests. Beyond the Label: Understanding the Root Cause If you strip ADHD down to its smallest common denominator among any gender, age or symptoms, you’ll find the root cause: weak attention skills. That could mean that the person’s sustained, selective or divided attention skills are weak, but in most people with ADHD, all three are weak. In fact, cognitive skills testing confirms that most people with ADHD also have deficits in memory (working and long-term) and processing speed. It’s also important to note that ADHD can manifest differently in girls than in boys. When it comes to ADHD, boys are more prone to problems with impulse control, while girls’ symptoms often manifest as inattention. Putting Neuroplasticity to Work If weak attention and other cognitive skills are the root cause of ADHD, why would we expect stimulant medications to permanently cure a student’s struggles? It’s like giving a child a cough suppressant and expecting it to cure their pneumonia. ADHD drugs are a temporary solution to treating the symptoms of ADHD. One of the best solutions to eliminate the cause, symptoms, and label of ADHD is to strengthen the attention, memory, and processing speed skills with personal brain training. Also known as cognitive skills training, one-on-one brain training harnesses the brain’s plasticity to build new, faster or more efficient connections between neurons. It’s the same “brain rehabilitation” used for stroke victims, seniors with age-related cognitive decline and dementia, those suffering memory loss from chemotherapy and anesthesia and those with traumatic brain injuries. Unlike computer “brain games,” personal brain training is customized for each person based on the results of a cognitive skills assessment. And unlike tutoring, which focuses on specific subjects, like history or math, cognitive skills training strengthens the fundamental brain skills needed to excel in ANY subject. Do your own research on personal brain training to see if the natural, permanent solution to ADHD is worthy of all the attention it’s finally getting. * SOURCE: July 8, 2013 Wall Street Journal –– “ADHD Drugs Don’t Boost Kids’ Grades” SIDEBAR: To find out which weak cognitive skills may be contributing to your child’s academic struggles, take this free five-minute learning skills discovery survey: http://lsds.learningrx.com.