“I think my child or teenager has ADHD”
This is one of the most common questions leading parents to seek outpatient treatment. ADHD is characterized by 3 groups of symptoms that vary in presentation depending on age, gender and setting:
- Inattention: lacks focus, disorganized, makes careless mistakes, avoids tasks that require sustained attention, easily distracted, forgets or loses things, difficulty listening or following directions.
- Hyperactivity: restless, fidgety, difficulty staying seated, difficulty playing quietly, always on the go, talks excessively.
- Impulsivity: impatience, difficulty waiting turn, blurting out answers, interrupting others, acting without thinking.
It is not uncommon for children to display some behaviors or symptoms that are consistent with ADHD. Most kids or teens lose a school assignment, interrupt a parent while talking on the phone, or struggle to stay in their seat on occasion. However, further evaluation is recommended when concerns related to inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity interfere with your child’s functioning in areas such as home, school or social situations.
As part of the evaluation, we also consider the potential of other commonly presenting concerns, such as anxiety, depression, and/or potential learning issues that may contribute to behaviors and symptoms that appear quite similar to ADHD.
It is important to ensure an accurate diagnosis as the treatment approaches for ADHD are different than other diagnoses. For example, a child who experiences considerable anxiety related to school often exhibits difficulty with attention, concentration, completing academic tasks, listening to directions and staying in their seat in ways that look similar to a child with ADHD. However, if a child exhibits those behaviors and symptoms due to underlying anxiety and is prescribed a stimulant medication, their experience of anxiety may be exacerbated.
At Attention, Behavior and Cognition, we use an evidence-based, best practice approach to evaluate ADHD that includes:
- A Clinical interview with parents/caretaker.
- Questionnaires and/or Rating Scales completed by parents, teachers, and child.
- Use of a continuous performance test to obtain objective data to support diagnostic clarification.
Upon completion of the evaluation, we meet for a feedback session to discuss results and highlight recommendations for the home, school and/or treatment settings. A 2-3 page diagnostic report summarizes the results and recommendations and can be used in school meetings to determine eligibility for 504 plans, inform Primary Care Physicians, and direct outpatient treatment.