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ADHD in Children: When to See the Doctor

Posted by on Oct. 12, 2009 at 11:29 PM
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While you can't be sure if your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), something about his behavior may be telling you something isn't right. Maybe he can spend hours glued to the X-Box or Playstation, but when it comes time to eat dinner or do his homework, he can't sit still for five minutes.

Maybe you tell him to go upstairs and get ready for bed, but 10 minutes later you find him sitting on the bottom stair playing with the dog -- and oblivious to your calls of "Are you in bed yet?" Or maybe you've noticed that he has trouble waiting his turn or controlling his anger, throwing a tantrum to rival that of a 2-year-old when a teammate doesn't throw the ball to him.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Is your child's behavior showing symptoms of ADHD -- or is it just a part of growing up? Whom do you ask to find out?

The best person to start with is probably your child's pediatrician, although that won't necessarily give you all the answers you need, say experts. Because ADHD cannot be diagnosed through blood tests or X-rays, the pediatrician can only make a diagnosis based on what he or she sees in the examining room. If your child grabs the doctor's stethoscope and jumps off the exam table, your pediatrician may suspect ADHD. But sometimes the office setting or the just sight of the doctor's white coat is enough to intimidate an otherwise hyperactive child into being more subdued.

In addition, many pediatricians will not make a diagnosis of ADHD in a child under age 5. So talking to the pediatrician will most likely be just a good first step to seeking a diagnosis.

Ask Your Pediatrician About ADHD

If you suspect your child has ADHD, ask the pediatrician if he or she is experienced with ADHD diagnoses. Some pediatricians take coursework so they are familiar with the disorder and can help with the diagnosis and medical management of it. Some -- members of a subspecialty called developmental pediatricians -- complete a two-year fellowship in ADHD and learning disabilities beyond their pediatric residencies.

Even if your pediatrician isn't familiar with diagnosing ADHD, however, he or she can probably help you locate a mental health professional who is.

If your pediatrician does not work with therapists and psychologists, ask about an evaluation through your child's school psychologist or ask the school counselor to recommend someone.

What to Expect in an ADHD Evaluation

When selecting a psychologist or other mental health professional, it's important to find a person with specific training in ADHD diagnosis and treatment. This person's first task will be to put together information -- from you and from school and medical records -- that will help rule out other causes of your child's behavior.  

by on Oct. 12, 2009 at 11:29 PM
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