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Organizational Skills Training for Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders

Organizational Skills Training for Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders: Our Proven Treatment for Youngsters and Extensions Through the ADHD Academy

Organizational Skills Training (OST) is an effective program that is unique in its demonstrated impact in improving the home and school lives of elementary school children with ADHD.  Developed at the Child Study Center through a program of systematic research, it is a treatment that is now provided by clinicians in our clinical services in Manhattan, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester.  It is a treatment that involves children, their parents, and their teachers in a comprehensive package that uses 20 sessions to build tools and routines for Tracking Assignments, Managing Materials, Time Management, and Planning. Parents and teachers receive guidance in behavior modification and children are provided with direct instruction and practice in individual sessions with trained and supervised clinicians.

At the Child Study Center, a team of clinical researchers worked for over 12 years to understand and address deficits in Organization, Time Management, and Planning (OTMP) in children with ADHD. This systematic research led to the creation of reliable and valid methods for evaluating OTMP deficits and the development of a fully-tested Organizational Skills Training for elementary school children with ADHD. Careful testing of the 20-seesion program demonstrated that the treatment works well and has lasting effects. Children with deficits were found to have improved organizational skills at home and at school during the school year in which training occurred with improvements lasting into the following school year. Importantly, these improvements in organizational skills were associated with improvements in homework behavior, improvements in academic productivity, increases in academic performance, and significant reductions in family conflicts. This scientific paper describes the positive results.

We are the originators of this program and its full evaluation supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health.  As you think about addressing Organization, Time Management and Planning difficulties in a child with ADHD, ask yourself: why not obtain such help from the team that originated the work and has the most experience providing such care? This program is far more sensitive than tutoring with more demonstrated impact than other approaches.   

Extensions of Organizational Skills Training

Organizational Skills Training for elementary school students has received a full evaluation. However, we have also been developing extensions of this program for middle-school, high-school, and select college students.

Middle-School Organizational Skills Training: Pilot-tests with a version of OST adapted to middle-school students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades have been conducted in school settings with promising results. In an open clinical trial, with 28 students, the program was found to have a positive impact on organization, school productivity, and school performance. We now offer a clinical version of this program to parents and students in consultation with teachers.

High School Organizational Skills Training: Using lessons learned while working with younger students, clinical treatment with high school students is available. An individualized approach is used to determine what barriers to effective organization and academic productivity are present. The treatment addresses motivation, organization, and teacher consultation.

College Students: For local college students or students on break, we offer consultations to determine if a special focus on building organizational skills and improving motivation would address any of the challenges that ADHD presents to the successful completion of courses.  On-going work or referrals for college students are possible following these consultations.

The ADHD Academy: During school breaks, special workshops are available to assist children and teens with ADHD in making transitions to new school settings. In late May and June, a 3-session program, Coping with College: A Management Plan for Students with ADHD, is offered to students and their families. In August, Handling High School and Managing Middle School are 3-session workshops presented to students and families starting in new settings in the fall.  Registration and questions can be addressed by contacting the intake department at 646-754-5000. 

Consultation to Schools and After-School Programs: As there are promising results with students at all levels up through high school, we have developed lessons and full programs in consultation with several schools and with after-school programs. We have provided the lessons and guidance to students directly or trained and consulted with school and after-school staff to apply the ideas and training to students in a careful, systematic fashion. We are ready to offer these efforts to other school and after-school programs in the coming year. 

Contacts for these programs should start with a call to our assistant at 646-754-5046.

Professional Training and Certification

Our research and clinical work has required that we train therapists to provide Organizational Skills Training and its extensions during the last 12 years.  We have extensive experience providing training and supervision to over 25 therapists during this time. As a result, we have a fully developed training program that we can offer to groups and individual clinicians. Continuing education programs and webinars with supervision will be available very soon.  Please contact our assistant at 646-754-5046 to discuss this opportunity.

The Therapy Manual for Professionals 

Drs. Gallagher, Abikoff, and Spira have translated their experience with Organizational Skills Training (OST) to create a book that explains OST in detail and provides a user-friendly session-by-session guide for conducting OST with elementary school children. This is the protocol for the randomized clinical trial that resulted in significant, lasting changes. Organizational Skills Training for Children with ADHD: An Empirically Supported Treatment by Gallagher, Abikoff, and Spira (2014) is available from Guilford Press. Visit this page on Amazon to learn more about the book.

Purchasing this book through Amazon provides support to the Child Study Center.

Our Clinicians

Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., Organizational Skills Training Program Director
Timothy Verduin, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Yamalis Diaz, Ph.D.
Christina DiBartolo, M.A.,C.S.W.
Jennifer DiBonaventura, Ph.D.
Clark Goldstein, Ph.D.
Lauren Knickerbocker, Ph.D.
Eric Lewandowski, Ph.D.
David Marks, Ph.D
Stephanie Wagner, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Kaitlin Gallo, Ph.D.
Brittany Roslin, Ph.D.