Summer treatment camp for kids with ADHD in high demand

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the third summer in a row, Children's Mercy Hospital will offer a summer treatment program for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

In high demand, and one of only a handful in the country, the camp has grown from 12 kids the first year to 40 spots available this summer.

One of the camps success stories, 11-year old Will Thigpen, was diagnosed in third grade with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with anxiety. Thigpen attended the summer treatment camp, two summers ago, the first time it was offered. Wednesday, his family said they don't know where they would be without it.

"We are like so far from where we were 2 years ago and I think that all goes back to the summer treatment program," said Kristen Thigpen, Will's mom.

The program is eight weeks long and costs $4,000 dollars. Co-Director and Children's Mercy Hospital child psychologist Trista Perez Crawford said the camp is equivalent to six years of one-on-one behavioral therapy.

"Every summer we've walked away with kids saying, 'I have friends for the first time or here are some kids that are like me or that understand me.' For us that is hugely important because we know that part of their success as adolescents depends on them being able to hook up with a good peer group and make good decisions in group situations," said Perez Crawford.

The program is designed to help improve an ADHD child's behavior long-term by teaching them day-to-day skills to manage the disorder.

"We have a little saying that "pills don't teach skills," Perez Crawford said, adding, "The best treatment for school age kids with ADHD are combined treatments of the stimulant medication and behavioral therapy."

For Will and his parents, the skills learned are priceless.

"I can't imagine where we would have been if we hadn't had done it. I mean its like, it's not even a hesitation. I don't want to get emotional but it's what's best for your kid," said Thigpen.

"I'd say its working pretty well," Will added.

This summer, the Children's Mercy STP will run from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., June 2-July 25, at the Kansas City Christian School, Prairie Village Campus, 4801 West 79th St., in Prairie Village, Kan.

For more information about the Children's Mercy STP for Children with ADHD, camp fees, and how to enroll, please call (913) 696-5748 or visit childrensmercy.org/adhdstp/.

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