ADHD in Children: When to See the Doctor
While you can't be sure if your child has ADHD, his behavior may make you wonder. Is it ADHD, or is it just part of growing up? Whom can you ask to find out?
You can start by talking to your child's pediatrician. Ask if he or she has experience in diagnosing ADHD. Some pediatricians take additional coursework to become familiar with diagnosing the disorder and its medical management. Some do a fellowship specializing in ADHD and learning disabilities.
If your pediatrician isn't familiar with diagnosing ADHD, he or she can probably refer you to a mental health professional who has that experience.
If your pediatrician does not work with therapists and psychologists, ask your child's school psychologist to do an evaluation, or ask the school counselor to recommend someone.
What to Expect in an ADHD Evaluation
When choosing a psychologist or other mental health professional, look for someone who has specific training in diagnosing and treating ADHD. This person's first task will be to put together information -- from you, your child's school and your child's medical records. This information will help rule out other causes of your child's behavior.
The therapist should learn as much as possible about your child's behavior. They will talk with you, your child, your child's teachers, and perhaps also with other adults who are part of your child's life. They should also ask you and your child's teachers to fill out standardized evaluation forms. If possible, they may also observe your child in their classroom.
Also, the FDA has approved the use of the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, a noninvasive scan that measures theta and beta brain waves. The theta/beta ratio has been shown to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it. The scan, approved for use in those aged 6 to 17 years, is meant to be used as a part of a complete medical and psychological exam.
If the process leads to an ADHD diagnosis, it should include the specific type of ADHD and help you develop a treatment plan to address the symptoms.