I have had several people asking me about ADHD lately. If you think your child might need some extra help, it can be tough to know where to start. Typically, the first person to talk with is your pediatrician. She can evaluate your child and give you some ideas about where to begin. The pediatrician’s evaluation will often include asking you and your child’s teacher to complete a behavior rating scale. If your child fits criteria for ADHD, she will likely recommend a combination of behavioral, educational, and medication treatments. Since ADHD symptoms overlap with many other problems (e.g., anxiety, learning disabilities, sleep disorders) you may want to do some further evaluation with a psychologist who specializes in ADHD assessment. I often refer to Dr. Julien Smith who is a pediatric neuropsychologist in Salt Lake City (www.cns-slc.com). A thorough evaluation will give you ideas about where to focus intervention.
The most recent recommendations from the American Psychological Association are that you focus first on making changes in the child’s environment (home and school) and then consider medication options. “Taking Charge of ADHD” by Russell Barkley (www.russellbarkley.org) is a great book to find details about which interventions really work. Be careful about the information you find on-line as there is a lot of misinformation out there. A great resource on-line is www.chadd.org . Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, so remember to take care of yourself and surround yourself with a team of supportive people.