Learning about Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is a disorder that causes inappropriate inattention, impulsivity, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Recent studies indicate that 8-10% of the population is affected. It is proven that there is a strong genetic link. In families without an affected close family member, the cause can be multifactorial

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD the child needs to be inattentive in more than one setting. If the child is focused at home, but struggles in school, it is possible the child has a learning disability. If the child struggles at home, but has no problems in school, a social stressor in the home may be the cause of inattention.

To diagnose a child with ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation must be done. This includes a full history and physical exam by a physician Rating scales are used to evaluate for ADHD. These are completed by parents and teachers. The checklist allows physicians to evaluate the severity of the symptoms. Our office often uses Vanderbilt forms for assessment. These can be downloaded from a PDF on our website. There are different forms for parents and teachers.

If the history and forms are consistent with the diagnosis of ADHD, treatment has multiple facets. Parent education and behavior modification are important components. The doctor may prescribe medication. The risks and benefits would be discussed prior to starting treatment. Some medications are controlled substances that require a new prescription each month. Children on medication also must been seen by a physician every three months to be monitored for efficacy, side effects or problems.

There are resources that parents can access for additional information about ADHD. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a non-profit organization that can be accessed online. Additional references include ADHD: What Every Parent Should Know, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as ADHD and Me, by Blake Taylor.

If you are concerned that your child may have this disorder, please contact our office to schedule an evaluation.

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