Treatment effects of methylphenidate on behavioral adjustment in children with mental retardation and ADHD

Deborah A. Pearson, Cynthia W. Santos, John D. Roache, Charles D. Casat, Katherine A. Loveland, David Lachar, David M. Lane, Laura P. Faria, Lynne A. Cleveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objective: The effects of stimulant medication treatment were investigated in children with mental retardation (MR) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Method: Parent and teacher behavioral ratings and reports of side effects were obtained for children (N = 24, mean age = 10.9 years, SD = 2.4) during a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover treatment trial with 0.15 mg/kg, 0.30 mg/kg, and 0.60 mg/kg b.i.d- dosages of methylphenidate. Results: The most significant improvements occurred at the 0.60 mg/kg methylphenidate dose for teacher ratings of inattention (p = .024), hyperactivity (p < .001), aggression (p < .001), and asocial behavior (p = .009). No significant improvements, relative to placebo, occurred at the 0.15 mg/kg dosage. Of interest, nearly all significant medication-related behavioral improvements were detected by teachers. However, parents were sensitive raters of side effects, noting more sleeping problems and loss of appetite at the 0.60 mg/kg dose compared with placebo. Conclusions: These results suggest that symptoms of ADHD can be treated successfully in children with ADHD/MR, and consistent with MTA study results, higher doses were most effective. Furthermore, these improvements were not accompanied by increases in symptoms such as staring, social withdrawal, or anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Behavior
  • Mental retardation
  • Methylphenidate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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