How Should I Treat My Child's ADHD?

15 Questions to Ask After Your Child’s ADHD Diagnosis

The results are in: Your child has ADD. Now what? Here, find answers to these and other top-of-mind questions after your child’s ADHD evaluation.

African American boy being examined by the female pediatrician
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My child has ADHD. What’s next?

Your child’s evaluation resulted in diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). What now?

Though we have best practices and recommendations for helping children with ADHD in school, at home, and in other realms of life, there is no singular strategy for helping parents immediately navigate next steps once the diagnosis is established. These resources are a good place to start:

Your Next Steps

A Head shape with colorful chalk spots as symbol of neurodivergent. Neurodiversity concept.
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Does my child have complex ADHD?

ADHD that occurs with one or more conditions is called complex ADHD. About 60% of children with ADHD have at least one co-occurring condition.1 The most common comorbid conditions include anxiety, depression, autism, tic disorders, behavioral/conduct disorders, and learning disorders.

Asking this question shows the diagnosing professional that you’re aware of the statistics, and that it’s likely that your child has something else going on apart from ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that providers screen for comorbid conditions as part of a patient’s ADHD evaluation. To that end, how will your doctor look for other conditions or rule them out?

Additional Resources

pediatrician consulting little patient in office
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What’s next if my child doesn’t have ADHD?

The provider should have conducted a comprehensive evaluation to determine what else could explain your child’s behaviors — not just that it’s not ADHD. If there are no clues or signs, seek a second opinion or a re-evaluation in six months.

Related Resources

Mother talks with pediatrician in doctor’s office and decision to put daughter on ADHD medication
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How do I treat my child’s ADHD?

Multimodal treatment that comprises ADHD medication, behavioral parent training, and educational interventions is the gold standard for ADHD treatment in children. There are other options for managing ADHD on top of these treatments, including (in no particular order) ADHD and executive function coaching, occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for ADHD, and lifestyle changes.

Your first conversations about treatment might be on ADHD medication, followed by parent training and school plans.

As you explore ways to manage your child’s ADHD, keep in mind that you’ll likely run into “treatments'' that are not at all evidence based. Navigating treatment decisions starts with being informed about which interventions are proven to be effective and safe in treating ADHD — and which aren’t.

Related questions:

  • What role will the diagnosing professional play in treatment? It’s not a guarantee that the professional who diagnosed your child’s ADHD will be the one to treat it, too. The diagnosing specialist, for example, might be able to prescribe ADHD medication, but you’ll likely have to go to another provider for behavioral parent training.
  • Who can prescribe and manage ADHD medication? Pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners are among the medical professionals who can prescribe ADHD medications. Keep in mind that your pediatrician may refer your child to another specialist, like a psychiatrist, to prescribe medication depending on the complexity of your child’s case.
  • What is behavioral parent training? How does it work?
  • What is an IEP? What’s a 504 plan? They are the main types of educational supports available to students with ADHD. Broadly, the IEP provides services, while a 504 Plan provides accommodations.
  • What is ADHD coaching? An ADHD coach can help your child develop skills and strategies. Coaching is, as of yet, unlicensed and unregulated. If you are interested in ADHD coaching for your child, be sure that the coach has a strong philosophy for working with neurodivergent children.
  • Will my child need a treatment team? Your child’s ADHD treatment team should comprise parents, teachers, clinicians, and other specialists treating your child’s ADHD. Ask the diagnosing professional about who should be on your child’s treatment team.
Girl taking her ADHD medication with breakfast
Girl taking her ADHD medication with breakfast
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What can we expect with ADHD medication?

ADHD medication should mitigate 60% to 90% of your child’s symptoms. If that’s not the case, the doctor should adjust the dosage or change the medication until there is optimal symptom control with minimal side effects.

 The more you become knowledgeable about ADHD medication — including when your child is expected to use it and what improvement looks like — the better you’ll feel about your treatment decision.

Additional Resources

Female psychologist walking with patient in hall
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Which ADHD medication is the best for my child?

There’s no single best ADHD medication for children. The best medication for your child will depend on their individual response to it, which factors in the medication’s dosage, duration, side effects, and more. Be sure to ask the prescriber about their process for determining the best medication for your child.

Changing life circumstances, like going from elementary to middle school, may warrant a medication change, which is why I encourage parents to ask the prescriber on a yearly basis, “Do you think my child is on the best ADHD medication?”

Related questions:

Mother and teenage boy going home from school
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My Child Has ADHD. Now What?

ADDitude Resource Hubs:

The content for this article was derived, in part, from the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “The Right Questions to Ask Before, During, and After an ADHD Diagnosis” [Video Replay & Podcast #421] with Norrine Russell, Ph.D., which was broadcast on September 15, 2022.

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1 Melissa L. Danielson, Rebecca H. Bitsko, Reem M. Ghandour, Joseph R. Holbrook, Michael D. Kogan & Stephen J. Blumberg. (Jan. 24, 2018). Prevalence of Parent-Reported ADHD Diagnosis and Associated Treatment Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2016. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 47:2, 199-212, DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2017.1417860. Retrieved from: