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What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common chronic condition that starts in childhood and often continues into adulthood. There are three classifications of ADHD that are dependent on which symptoms are present:
- Predominantly Inattentive: Primary symptom is difficulty sustaining attention
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive: Primary symptoms are hyperactivity and impulsive behavior
- Combined type: A hybrid of the two classifications above
- To identify children at risk for ADHD through history, examination, and use of standardized screening instruments
- To formally assess those at risk and experiencing difficulty in any environment
- To assist in providing appropriate modifications to the educational environment to promote success
- To prescribe medication where appropriate and monitor for both benefits and potential side effects
- To manage or facilitate specialist referrals where appropriate when other concerns are also present
ADHD is generally diagnosed in elementary school. When older children are diagnosed, one of the criteria is that symptoms were present prior to 12 years of age. Diagnosis is based partly on history and observation during the office visit and partly through the use of standardized assessment tools. In our office we utilize Vanderbilt Assessments, though there are others that are validated for such use. The Vanderbilt Assessments should ideally be completed prior to the office visit. There are two parts to Vanderbilt Assessments – one is for the teacher(s), one is for the parent to complete.
When diagnosing ADHD, children are also evaluated for other possible conditions that could either be present along with ADHD or may masquerade as ADHD. Among those considered are cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, dyslexia, processing disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, and tic disorders (such as Tourette’s).
ADHD can be managed in multiple ways and each child is considered unique
- Environmental modifications: There are many modifications that can assist individuals with ADHD. Many of these modifications can be incorporated into the school environment through either a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- Medications: There are a wide array of options including both stimulants and non-stimulants. Each option presents with expected benefits and potential side effects.
- Behavior Therapy: Reward systems, Social skills training, Parenting skills training, and Family therapy are all options to assist
- Medical Devices: There is a new device cleared by the FDA that uses Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS)
Additional ADHD Resources
There are many ADHD resources available on the internet. These are well regarded and reliable sources. Every child is different, and what can assist one child may hinder another. The care we provide is based on established guidelines but individualized to your child’s specific needs.
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)
Center for Disease Control (CDC)