How can I determine if my child has pediatric ADHD?
There is no one test (neither a physical test nor a psychological test) which, used alone, can diagnose ADHD symptoms in kids. A comprehensive ADHD assessment from a team of professionals is needed to diagnose ADHD. The multidisciplinary team discovers different types of information. In addition, information from teachers is gathered. The information should reflect the child’s functioning over an extended period of time. This information is then integrated with clinical observations and assessment test data.
A comprehensive ADHD assessment should include the following:
- Parent Interview
Detailed description of the child’s symptoms over time
Psycho-social history of the nuclear and extended family
- Child Interview
Child’s perception of the described symptoms
Child’s social-emotional status related to the symptoms
- Personality Testing (optional) Rule out co-existing disorders:
- Other mental health disorders
- Teacher and Parent Rating Scales
Checklists and rating Scales which address behavioral symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and social-emotional functioning
- Psychological and Educational Testing
Standardized measures of:
- Cognitive ability and/or memory
- Visual-motor integration
- Academic skill development
- Sustained attention-concentration and impulse control
Will my child outgrow pediatric ADHD?
Most children diagnosed in childhood continue to demonstrate ADHD symptoms into adulthood. The specific ADHD symptoms, however, appear quite different as the child matures and learns coping strategies. Children with symptoms of “hyperactivity” often appear to be less physically active in adolescence, although they may continue to experience “internal restlessness.” In addition, adolescents and adults develop strategies whereby they “bypass” ADHD symptoms. In some cases individuals learn to “channel” the negative behaviors associated with these symptoms into positive outcomes (e.g., the ADHD child becomes an innovative entrepreneur due to high energy and a unique vision).
What pediatric ADHD treatment options are available?
Children and adolescents with ADHD have a variety of needs. Some children require specific accommodations in the school setting, some need support with social-emotional functioning, and others need practical support. Medication also has been beneficial to most individuals. Generally, however, optimal pediatric ADHD treatment includes a variety of interventions, which are individualized for a particular child’s needs. In other words, one treatment option alone is not recommended. In many cases the combination of treatment options works synergistically. Commonly accepted treatment options include:
- Educational interventions
- Use of medication
- Individual or family therapy
- Parenting skills training
- Social skills training
- Parent-child support groups
- Practical support