By Dr. Josue H. Cortes. M.D. FAAP
Now that we are halfway through the school year, it is a good time to review the common diagnosis of ADHD. The bottom-line concerns usually have to do with how to recognize ADHD and what steps to take once you do.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
Who has ADHD?
Everyone knows that all children have different personality traits. Some are quiet, some are noisy, some are calm, some are more rambunctious. However, we start having concerns if these “traits” interfere with the child’s daily activities. These issues can end up causing academic challenges as well as behavioral problems which make life very difficult for these children, their families, their teachers, and anyone who has significant contact with them.
Once this is noticed, what is the next step?
Once you notice that the child is having daily struggles in various areas, the next step is to bring these concerns to the attention of the pediatrician as well as with school personnel. The pediatrician will seek additional details and will likely give the parents questionnaires to complete, one for them, and one or more for teachers who are involved with the child. These questionnaires, in conjunction with other information, will help the pediatrician to arrive at a working diagnosis upon which a plan can be made.
What comes next?
If a working diagnosis of ADHD is made, then consideration is given to treatment. Usual treatment includes medications and/or behavioral therapy. Some parents, depending on the severity of the symptoms and their level of comfort, will initially choose behavioral therapy. Most experts agree that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy tends to work best.
Of course, close follow-up is needed.
No matter what kind of treatment or combination of treatments is chosen, close follow-up is always necessary. At follow-up appointments, the pediatrician will assess if desired results are being achieved and will check for undesired side effects so that adjustments can be made.
In summary, never ignore any signs of a child having trouble at school. If diagnosed and treated properly, ADHD does not have to cause chaos in a child’s life and his/her family. A better life can be achieved at home and at school if the pediatricians, school staff, and parents work together to identify and manage this common issue.