What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is characterized by difficulty managing attention, self-regulating, and controlling impulses. Children with ADHD often demonstrate difficulty with planning, organization, memory, social skills and peer relationships, and sometimes learning problems.
Although each assessment battery is designed specifically for the child being assessed, the following are commonly part of an ADHD assessment:
- IQ test and achievement test to assess for possible learning problems
- Interview with a parent to obtain a developmental history and report of current symptoms
- Parent and teacher completed questionnaires that ask relevant adults to rate the frequency and/or severity of challenges in the areas of attention, memory, impulse control, emotion regulation, executive functioning, anxiety, depression, challenging behavior, social skills, and communication skills.
- If developmentally appropriate, a child interview and child completed questionnaires will also be completed
Treating ADHD in Children:
The treatments of choice for ADHD include parent education, behavioral therapy, tutoring and/or coaching, and medication management.
Medication can be an extremely important component of treating ADHD effectively. For most children, medication significantly improves their ability to control their impulses. The ability to control one’s impulses is critical to being able to regulate attention, behavior and emotions—to “make good choices”. The decision to use medication can be difficult. In addition to considering the potential risks and benefits of taking the medication, we strongly encourage parents to consider the potential risks and benefits of not using medication to effectively treat ADHD.
Behavioral therapy is based on the idea that behavior is learned through reinforcement and punishment. When a behavior is reinforced it is more likely to occur again in the future, and when it is punished it is less likely to occur. Behavioral therapy involves working closely with parents to (1) modify the environmental conditions that tend to trigger challenging behavior and (2) control the child’s access to reinforcement when a challenging behavior occurs and (3) provide reinforcement when positive behaviors occur. Additionally, the therapist and parents work together to teach the child specific skills and appropriate behavior.
Additional ADHD Resources:
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents
National Institute of Mental Health
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry