ADHD Diagnosis Step 3: Learning How to Manage Symptoms
After the clinical interview and the recommended tests are completed, most doctors will call you into the office to go over the results of your ADHD evaluation. This is the best time to ask the doctor questions. When you leave that appointment, the doctor should have formulated an action plan to manage symptoms. It should include:
- A plan for follow-up therapy with a psychologist, therapist, ADD coach, or another expert.
- Recommendations for ADHD medication, if considered appropriate
- A schedule of follow-up appointments with the diagnosing
physician or your primary-care doctor to see how well the treatment plan is working.
“After the psychologist finished evaluating my son–a process that included eight hours of testing–she met with me to discuss his strengths and weaknesses, and handed me a list of accommodations that would help him at school,” says Joanna Thomas, of Lubbock, Texas, whose son, Ryan, now age 10, was diagnosed with ADHD at age seven. “Every year since the initial evaluation, I discussed the list of accommodations with his new teacher. I have also used it to write an introductory letter to the teachers that focuses on his strengths. Having that diagnosis meant everything to me. It gave me the tools I needed to help him at home and in working with his teachers.”
“An accurate diagnosis is good news,” says Hallowell, “because things can only get better. When you learn how to manage ADD, it can become an asset in your life. I tell patients, ‘You’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain, and you’re lucky, because you’re going to win a lot of races. The only problem is, you have bicycle brakes.’ The point is that someone with ADD is on the way to being a champion, not a loser. And with the correct diagnosis and treatment, 100 percent of ADDers can improve their lives.”