Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday tasks and routines challenging. It is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.
Although ADHD is common, it is often misdiagnosed, in preschool children and Black/African-American male children.
This is why it is important that you, the parent, take the necessary steps to ensure an accurate diagnosis:
There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Therefore, a comprehensive approach is necessary to establish a diagnosis, rule out other causes, and determine the presence or absence of co-existing conditions.
Where Do I Start? Begin with requesting assessments and clinical evaluation comprising of your child's Primary Care Physician → Teacher → ADHD Specialist: psychologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, mental health counselor.
A complete evaluation may include:
Interviewing the parent and child
Reviewing family medical history, especially if other family members have ADHD
Parent- and teacher-completed child behavior rating scales
Parent self-reports of parenting style
Spending time with the child to observe behavior either at home, school, or in the medical office
Clinic-based psychological tests
Review of earlier school and medical records
Intelligence testing, educational achievement testing, or screening for learning disabilities if the child has poor grades or struggles with learning
A medical, physical, or neurodevelopmental screening to rule out any other medical conditions that might produce ADHD-like symptoms
Additional vision and hearing screening, as well as formal speech and language assessment
What does ADHD look like?
Not being able to keep focus (inattention/daydreaming)
Excess movement that is not fitting to the setting (hyperactivity)*
Hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought (impulsivity)
Children with ADHD can be defiant, socially inept, or aggressive.
*For some children, hyperactivity/impulsivity may not be exhibited but rather inattention.
How can I help my child?
Currently, there is no cure for ADHD, but you can take positive steps to decrease its impact
Learn all you can about ADHD and your child’s educational rights.
Learn the tools of successful behavior management.
Inquire about parent behavioral training
Find out if you have ADHD.*
Notice your child’s successes, no matter how small.
Identify your child's strengths.
Check out this toolkit: https://chadd.org/nrc-toolkit/
*Since research shows ADHD can be inherited, many parents of children with ADHD discover that they have ADHD when their child is diagnosed. Parents with ADHD may need similar types of clinical evaluations and treatment that they seek for their children in order to function at their best. ADHD in the parent can make the home more chaotic and affect a parent’s ability to be proactive rather than reactive to their child's symptoms of ADHD.
How can I help myself?
Learning of your child's ADHD diagnosis may take a toll on your mental health. As you learn to navigate different tools and approaches to manage your child's behavior, it is important that you prioritize your own mental health. Prioritizing your mental health is a step that not only puts you first but also allows your child to receive better support. OBS offers services for children and adults; let today be the day you choose to "Walk Towards a Healing and Progressive Life".
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), CHADD.org
American Psychiatric Association (APA)