ADHD Diagnosis and Management

Child with ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD in Children

Diagnosis of ADHD in kids should generally not happen unless the core symptoms present themselves early in life, before the age of 12, and create significant problems at home or school at an ongoing basis. There isn’t one test for ADHD, but rather a comprehensive examination of the symptoms. This type of examination includes a medical exam, to help rule out other causes of the symptoms, as well as any current medical issues or familial history of ADHD. Talking to teachers, family members and other people who know your child well such as caregivers, babysitters and coaches can also help. ADHD rating scales also help provide insight into a proper evaluation of ADHD.

ADHD Diagnosis in Young Children

Though some symptoms of ADHD may start to appear as early as preschool or younger, diagnosis ADHD at this age can be difficult. The reason for this is developmental issues such as language delays can be mistaken to be ADHD. If a child who is preschool aged or younger is suspected of having ADHD it’s recommended for a specialist to evaluate the child. Psychologists, psychiatrists, pathologists and developmental pediatricians are all suited to make this kind of diagnosis.

Conditions with Similar Symptoms to ADHD

A number of medical conditions or their treatments may cause signs and symptoms similar to those of ADHD. Examples include:

  • Learning or language problems
  • Mood disorders such as depression or anxiety
  • Seizure disorders
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Medical problems or medications that affect thinking or behavior
  • Sleep disorders
  • Brain injury

Treatment of ADHD

There are a few common treatments for ADHD in kids, which can include medication, behavior therapy, counseling, and education services. These treatments may relieve some of the symptoms of ADHD, but aren’t a cure for the condition. Finding out what works best for your child may take some time as well.

Medication for ADHD

Stimulant medications are the most commonly prescribed medication as a treatment for ADHD. These stimulant medications are shown to have an affect on neurotransmitters which help balance out these chemicals, which help with inattention and hyperactivity. This type of medicine is available in fast acting and extended release forms. The right dosage of ADHD medication varies from child to child, and may need to also be adjusted as your child matures and grows.  If you decide to go with ADHD medication as a treatment option, talk with the risks and side effects of the specific medication and dosage with your healthcare provider. 

ADHD Behavior Therapy

Children with ADHD often benefit from behavior therapy, social skills training, parent skills training and counseling, which may be provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional. Some children with ADHD may also have other conditions such as an anxiety disorder or depression. In these cases, counseling may help both ADHD and the coexisting problem.

Examples of therapy include:

  • Behavior therapy. Teachers and parents can learn behavior-changing strategies, such as token reward systems and timeouts, for dealing with difficult situations.
  • Social skills training. This can help children learn appropriate social behaviors.
  • Parenting skills training. This can help parents develop ways to understand and guide their child’s behavior.
  • Psychotherapy. This allows older children with ADHD to talk about issues that bother them, explore negative behavior patterns and learn ways to deal with their symptoms.
  • Family therapy. Family therapy can help parents and siblings deal with the stress of living with someone who has ADHD.

The best results occur when a team approach is used, with teachers, parents, therapists and physicians working together. Educate yourself about ADHD and available services. Work with your child’s teachers and refer them to reliable sources of information to support their efforts in the classroom.

If your child is experiencing any symptoms of any condition don’t hesitate to call us. We are here to assist with treatment and preventative measures for your family.

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