Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a condition that can cause children to be inattentive, distractible, and/or hyperactive. Researchers have identified three sub-types of ADHD: some children primarily exhibit inattentiveness, others chiefly manifest impulsivity, while others display a combination of the two. If untreated, ADHD can lead children to experience academic, behavioral, and social difficulties, and can place stress on family relationships.
An accurate diagnosis of ADHD begins with a medical examination to rule out physical conditions which may produce symptoms of ADHD as well as identify conditions that may coexist with the disorder. A licensed mental health professional can then conduct a diagnostic assessment, which includes clinical interviews with the child and the parents as well as the use of evaluative rating scales, some of which may be filled out by teachers. Sometimes psychologists also conduct testing to clarify the diagnosis and determine if there are additional cognitive or emotional concerns.
Effective treatment for ADHD usually includes a variety of components. Therapists often assist parents in building an orderly and structured home, maintaining clear and consistent rules and expectations, reinforcing positive behaviors, and focusing on their child’s strengths, all of which enable children with ADHD to behave better, be more productive, and develop an improved self-concept. Clinicians may conduct individual sessions with children to develop their ability to cope with emotions and manage challenges. They may also work with the entire family to improve communication, strengthen relationships, and meet the needs of other family members. Group therapy can build children’s social skills. Additionally, clinicians may assist the family in identifying educational resources that can lead to higher academic achievement. These efforts may include advocating for the implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan which can provide additional services, modifications, or accommodations in school. Finally, therapists may assist families in identifying a medical doctor (typically a psychiatrist, neurologist, or developmental pediatrician) who can prescribe psychotropic medication.
Comprehensive treatment for ADHD typically improves children’s behavior as well as their academic and social functioning, and can also lead to a more nurturing and positive family atmosphere.