Attention Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that commonly affects children and adolescents. It affects approximately 8 – 10% of all children in the United States and is more common amongst boys than girls. It is a behavioral problem that starts to affect children between the ages of 6 and 11.
When Should You Test For ADHD?
If a parent begins to see behavioral problems in their child that don’t seem to go away with time, it is probably a good idea to set up an appointment with the doctor to have your child assessed. It is better to get tested earlier, when you first start to see symptoms, rather than waiting as these behavioral issues can become a chronic problem for those who are not treated.
Symptoms include an inability to focus and concentrate on schoolwork, daydreaming, hyperactivity, a general feeling of restlessness, a tendency to act impulsively, speaking or acting without thinking first, and having difficulty adhering to the common rules of society.
What Tests Are Used to Diagnose ADHD?
There are several tests, checklists, and scales that help doctors determine whether a child has Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a general rule, when testing for ADHD, that symptoms should be present in diverse settings, not just at home or at school. Doctors will usually have an interview with the child; perform a complete medical history, which includes a history of the child’s emotional, social, and behavioral history; and perform a physical exam. A physical exam is performed to rule out other conditions that could be the cause of behavioral symptoms, such as thyroid disorder and seizure disorders.
Rating scales are generally used to check for symptoms of ADHD. The results of these will compare a child’s behavior to that of others in the same age group. There are two types of rating scales. The first scale is called the Conner’s Parent Rating Scale, which asks questions about the child’s symptoms. The second test is a Child Behavioral Checklist. This checklist evaluates a wide variety of symptoms. Often, the teacher of the child will be asked to complete a questionnaire to rate the child’s symptoms as well. Others who know the child or are close to the family may also take these tests to help in the diagnosis of the condition.
What Happens After a Diagnosis of ADHD?
Once a child has been diagnosed, as having Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder, a doctor will discuss treatment options with the parents of the child. This often includes starting the child on a regimen of medication. A child will also continue to be closely monitored after diagnosis. Another testing scale, called the Child Attention Problems Scale, will sometimes be used to monitor any behavioral changes once the child has started treatment and is taking medication.
What Medications Are Used to Treat ADHD?
There are two types of medications that are used to treat Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder. Both are stimulant type drugs.
These medications only have to be taken once a day as they are effective for 8 – 12 hours. This is helpful for younger children who may forget to take their medications at school. A parent would administer one dose in the morning and the child would have no other doses to take during the day. Some of these medications include Adderall XR, Concerta, Daytrana, and Ritalin LA.
Short-acting stimulants have a shorter half-life and don’t last as long. Because of this it is necessary to take more than one dose per day. Some short-acting stimulant medications include Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Methylin, Destrostat, Dexedrine, and Metadate.
Rief, Sandra. The ADD/ADHD Checklist: A Practical Reference for Parents and Teachers. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass; 2 Edition, 2008.
Ashley, Susan. The ADD & ADHD Answer Book: Professional Answers to 275 of the Top Questions Parents Ask. Chicago, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.; 1 Edition, 2005.