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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

organization methods.

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.

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