Many parents find themselves wondering if their child has ADHD and unsure what steps to take first. Perhaps your child's teacher has suggested they may have ADHD or you have noticed symptoms such as impulsivity or an inability to sit still. If your child does have ADHD, it's important to have an evaluation and diagnosis so that you can explore different treatment options. Here are three things you should know about ADHD evaluations as a parent:
Have Your Child Evaluated by an ADHD Specialist
You may initially ask your child's pediatrician or teacher if they suspect your child has ADHD, and these opinions can be helpful. But ultimately you will need a thorough and official evaluation to be done by an ADHD specialist. These are doctors or psychologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating ADHD. Your insurance company or your child's pediatrician will most likely be able to give you a referral to an ADHD specialist in your area.
Understand That This May Not Be a One-Time Appointment
Evaluating a child for ADHD is complex, and it's important to have an accurate evaluation. This means the evaluation is unlikely to be a single quick appointment, and more likely to be a series of appointments. You can expect to fill out a behavioral questionnaire about your child, which their teacher may also have to fill out.
Then, the ADHD specialist will spend time talking to your child and asking them specific questions about their feelings, school, and their thought processes. In some cases, the ADHD specialist may give your child a written evaluation as well. Depending on your child's age and symptoms, the ADHD specialist may also observe them at play or in an academic setting to get a full picture of your child's symptoms.
There Are Different Types of ADHD
One of the reasons an ADHD evaluation can be so time-consuming is that there are different types of ADHD. To find the most effective treatment options for your child, their doctor must not only determine they have ADHD but also determine which type.
For example, if your child has the inattentive type of ADHD, they likely struggle to pay attention and are probably unorganized a lot of the time. This requires slightly different treatment than the hyperactivity type of ADHD, which involves fidgeting and chatting excessively.
If your child has ADHD, their symptoms can be managed and they can have a happy and successful childhood. The key is to meet with a professional ADHD evaluation.