Picking ADHD Professionals to Treat Your Child

Working with doctors you trust can help you parent with confidence. Here’s how to find the best team for treating your child with ADHD.

Treatment Help, Part 3

Someone who has just spent some time with your child should be able to give you a few reactions or observations. It is completely reasonable to let evaluators know that you’d like a few minutes at the end of the session to get a sense of what they think. Always take notes. You may be more tense than you realize, and it may be hard to remember exactly what you did or didn’t hear.

Ask to have unfamiliar terms spelled out and explained and request sources of information you can consult. If you’ve had a full multi-specialty evaluation done, consider making an appointment to come back in, sit down, and discuss the results.

Keep a notebook. As time goes by, you will think of questions you want to ask, observations about your child that seem significant, ideas for further assessment or therapy. Write them all down in a notebook. There you can also make note of the specialists you see, the tests they do, the information they give.

Jot down phone numbers of programs or specialists you learn about from other parents, as well as contact data for someone who isn’t that helpful now but may be in a few years. A notebook will help you track your child and your own understanding. It will also help you use your time with the specialists to ask the questions you’ve been wanting to bring up.

Trust your instincts. Go into this process with an open mind but also with a healthy degree of skepticism. If someone tells you something that absolutely does not fit with your sense of your child, consider it objectively. If it’s nonsense, forget it. Don’t let someone who can’t answer questions to your satisfaction pursue a long-term therapeutic relationship with your child, no matter how grand or glorious his degrees or reception room.

Don’t expect a “eureka” moment. We’ll say it again because it’s so important: By and large, quirky kids don’t fit neatly into diagnostic categories. The ongoing process of having your child assessed and considering different diagnoses can be valuable if it points the way to helping your child. Still, it’s probably not going to yield a single, illuminating conclusion when you find out what’s “really” going on.

Some specialists or clinics will give almost anyone a diagnosis. If you look hard and long enough, you will come across someone who will pin a label on your child—perhaps because it’s the same label everybody gets at that particular clinic. Be especially wary of labels that carry immediate recommendations for expensive therapists. Don’t let anyone prey on your desire to help your child. It’s worth getting a second opinion or discussing the recommendation with your own pediatrician.

Most of the professionals you will encounter as you look into assessment and diagnosis will be honorable. It must be said, however, that there is something of an industry out there in providing diagnoses and therapies to kids with developmental variations. This brings us, once again, to our preference for the academic medical center.

Finally, don’t forget that the point of all this—the workup, the testing, the consideration of your child by multiple experts—is not to come up with the right label, the right name, the right answer on some cosmic medical-student exam. It’s to help your child—and to help you help your child.

Adapted from Quirky Kids (Ballantine), by Perri Klass, M.D., and Eileen Costello, M.D. Reprinted with permission from Random House.


Who Can Treat ADHD?
Choosing the appropriate professional for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can be confusing. Here's how to navigate your options.

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This article comes from the October/November issue of ADDitude.
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TAGS: Choosing an ADHD Professional, Diagnosing Children with ADHD, ADHD Therapy

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