After an ADHD Diagnosis
Life with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging, and both the child and their parents can often feel overwhelmed following a diagnosis. While an official diagnosis is not required for many schools and support systems, such as Hill Learning Center’s summer and tutoring programs, it is important to know what to do immediately after an ADHD diagnosis. What are the next steps? Are there treatment options? Many parents become overwhelmed with these types of questions upon receiving a professional opinion. For this reason, we’ve put together a guide designed to lead you through the appropriate next steps after your child is diagnosed with ADHD.
While there is no single test for diagnosing ADHD, healthcare professionals analyze and interpret several different forms of data and perspectives across environments (typically home and school). A formal ADHD diagnosis must come from a physician or mental health care specialist who often utilizes assessments to help evaluate specific ADHD symptoms. These clinical evaluations should be all-encompassing and multidimensional, as ADHD affects a child’s behavior across a full range of environments. Evaluations should also assess social, emotional, and academic functioning, as these can often mimic or worsen symptoms of ADHD. The Evaluation process may include:
- Clinical Interview with parents (and older children/adolescents)
- Standardized Checklists from Parents and Teachers
- Review of family history
- General behavioral observation
- Assessment of attention through paper-and-pencil and/or computer based tests
- An interpretation of results with parents (and older children/adolescents) to review results and recommendations
Following an ADHD diagnosis, learn all that you can about what your child is experiencing. Understanding ADHD is helpful in terms of advocating for them and supporting them with next steps.
ADHD is a relatively common condition, though it is a complex neurological challenge that hinders executive function abilities. ADHD may affect a child’s ability to maintain focus, organize and prioritize, self-monitor, pay attention, regulate emotions, control physical activity, and more. Although some symptoms of ADHD can change over time, ADHD is chronic, meaning that it continues into adulthood.
After you’ve received an ADHD diagnosis and familiarized yourself with what ADHD is, there are a couple of vital next steps to take. Firstly, spend some time investigating treatments and possible therapies. Discuss possible treatment options with your child’s provider, including medication recommendations, counseling/therapy, and other interventions. Secondly, discuss support and accommodations with your child’s school. You may want to look into specialized schools or tutors for ADHD and other learning challenges, such as Hill Learning Center. Next, find training and information for you and your family. Overcoming the challenges of ADHD requires a comprehensive and proper support system. Communication with teachers, medical professionals, peers, and other families can go a long way, especially when combined with consistent monitoring and observation.
Talking with your child about the ADHD diagnosis is another important step. Children are typically already aware of their challenges, but they may have mislabeled those challenges (e.g. feeling like they aren’t smart, feeling like they are “bad”). For this reason, helping them understand that their difficulties are due to ADHD can be a relief to many children. Be sure to explain the diagnosis in a way that is age appropriate, normalizes the diagnosis, and is solution focused. Make sure your child is aware of what ADHD is and how it may affect them in several ways, but also reassure them that this diagnosis doesn’t have to define them or restrict their future if they take appropriate action and receive appropriate support. It is crucial for a child with ADHD to know they aren’t alone.
We can make a difference. Hill Learning Center is dedicated to transforming students with learning differences and attention challenges into confident, independent learners. Contact us if you’re interested in taking the next step.