When a parent learns that their child or teenager has ADHD or a significant attention challenge, the question of whether to medicate can be fraught with confusion by mixed messages in the media and limitations in our understanding. The science on this question is limited and we have yet to fully explore what the long-term impact may be on medicating and altering the chemistry within a not-yet-fully-developed brain.
Recent research, however, illuminates some factors that clinicians and parents may want to take into account in their decision about whether to medicate their child, which can then be weighed against the risks. For example, it appears that also having executive functioning deficits (specifically in working memory and self-regulation) may mean more downstream benefits of stimulant medication on academic performance. In contrast, few of these benefits were observed in kids with ADHD who lacked executive impairments on neuropsychological assessment.
(Source: J Learn Disabil March/April 2011 vol. 44 no. 2 196-212 )