ADHD in Children and Teens
If your child struggles with difficulty concentrating on tasks, paying attention, and controlling
impulsive behavior, you might suspect that your child has ADHD. ADHD stands for attention-
deficit hyperactivity disorder and affects about 9.4% of children in the US. The disorder is twice
as common in boys than in girls. There are a variety of ways to diagnose ADHD and information
to gather, such as teacher and parent forms, psychoeducation evaluation, and evaluations by a
psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, or developmental pediatrician. Your primary care
provider at Children's Wellness Center can help you decide which diagnostic approach is best for your child.
One of the guidelines used for a diagnosis is to take a look at the presence of ADHD symptoms
and whether or not they occur in 2 or more settings and have continued for more than 6
months. At least 6 symptoms must be identified. It is also important to examine if the
symptoms interfere with the child's ability to function in regular activities, their academics, and their social relationships.
Some of the symptoms of ADHD include challenges with organization, focus, and listening,
being distracted easily, trouble with sitting still, fidgeting, impatience, and frequently acting and
speaking out without thinking. These symptoms, when observed in a child, get compared to
typical behaviors of children of the same age. When a child is also evaluated, they will get a
physical and neurologic examination and be asked questions about their behavior and feelings.
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, we will provide information on long-term treatment plans
and resources to help your child manage the disorder and live a healthy and happy life. If left
untreated, ADHD can cause serious and lifelong problems and can affect children's ability to
perform well in school. When developing a plan, we will work with your family to set target
goals for your child. These can include improving academic grades, developing independence,
decreasing disruptive behaviors, reducing recklessness, and building confidence.
Most children with ADHD get the best outcomes when a treatment plan combines both
medication and behavior therapy. Stimulant medications are considered to be the safest and
most effective types to help with symptoms. There are two forms available: immediate-release,
which are usually taken every 4 hours, and extended-release, which are taken once in the
morning. For a list of ADHD medications and information about them, check out this resource
If your child is taking medication, make sure to keep up with their regular well visits so that we
can assess if the medication is working and check for possible side effects. Common side effects
that can occur include sleep problems and decreased appetite, and are rarely severe. Changing
the medication or adjusting the dosage can help relieve these symptoms. One of our providers
can guide you on the best course of action if there's an issue with any medication.
Behavior therapy is a crucial part of your child's treatment and it is recommended for parents
or caregivers to be involved. Through behavior therapy, you can practice positive reinforcement
to encourage good behavior and discourage unwanted behavior. You can also help your child
find healthy ways to manage their emotions, minimize impulsive actions, and pay better
attention. Cognitive behavior therapy can specifically teach kids how behaviors are affected by
thoughts and feelings and how to better control behavior. Developing executive functioning
skills is another benefit of behavior therapy. Kids will get to learn specific strategies for getting
work done timely and more easily. These include things like using a planner and a to-do list,
breaking down their tasks into small steps and setting a time limit for each, and using
As your child grows older, their ADHD symptoms can change and even improve. Your child may
or may not need to continue with medication when they're older. Every child with ADHD has
their own unique needs and challenges. We are here to support your family. If you notice any of
the ADHD symptoms in your child or have concerns and questions about their management and
treatment, contact our office.