ADHD Treatment Options – October is ADHD Awareness Month and it’s often a common month for parent-teacher conferences. Parent-teacher conferences are often the best time to assess how your child is adjusting to the new school year.
If you have concerns that your child may have ADHD, it’s likely your child’s teacher(s) may have the same concerns for your child that you do. Certain “checkpoints” – like the first report card, parent-teacher conferences, and upcoming holiday and winter breaks – are a great time to review a child’s performance in the classroom. For parents of children with ADHD, these check-ins are also opportunities to assess how their children are adjusting to the new academic year and see if changes may need to be made to their treatment plans.
I had the chance to speak with ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD, Chief of Psychology & Behavioral Health at Children’s National Health System. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the differences between ADD & ADHD, various ADHD treatment options, alternative treatments for ADHD, and the best way to receive an ADHD diagnosis.
ADHD Treatment Options
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What is ADD and ADHD a condition of?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – So, ADHD is a neurobiologic condition that affects about six million school children across the United States. There’s three main categories of symptoms: that’s inattention – the child that’s not listening when the teacher’s talking and they’re gazing out the window daydreaming; trouble with impulsivities – the same child may be shouting out answers in the classroom before being called on by the teacher; and of course the third aspect which is the hyperactivity – that’s the child who can’t sit still for those 90-minute middle school class periods and keeps getting up to sharpen their pencil or get a drink of water. And, it’s great that I’m here on behalf of Pfizer to talk to the moms in Oakland County because it’s ADHD Awareness Month.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – So, basically the only difference between the ADD and ADHD diagnosis is the hyperactive component?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – Yes, we don’t actually call it ADD anymore. We really talk about ADHD. And, people have different types or different presentations. Some kids may have the hyperactivity and impulsivity, and some may only have the inattention.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I understand. So, you’ve already touched on how ADHD symptoms affect children in a classroom setting. Can it also possibly interfere with a child’s ability to take in a message, a teacher’s lesson, and learn the material?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – Absolutely. So, difficulty learning may come up right now because it’s time for a check point. It’s mid quarter grading for the first quarter of the school year. And, it’s a great time for parents to check in with teachers. How are we doing on our homework? How are we doing on quizzes? Have they handed in written assignments like papers or projects? If parents are worried and the teacher is concerned, then it’s time to loop back in with the primary care office and talk to your family practitioner or pediatrician and say “I’m worried about focus and concentration, the teacher’s noticing my child is struggling… would you do an assessment for ADHD?”
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Ok. So, what are some ADHD treatment options?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – We got a variety of ADHD treatment options available. First one is educational interventions. The child might need a math tutor. They might need to be in a quieter classroom setting for those big standardized tests they all have to take. There are therapy options both for the family and for the child. And, the third possibility for treatment is medication. We have a variety of options now for meds. We have skin patches, we have pills. We even have a long-acting liquid formulation. And, if you wanted to know more about that one specifically, there’s a website your readers could go to that’s ADHDcheckpoints.com where they could learn more about medication.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Have you ever heard of any ADHD alternative treatments such as BrightSpark™, or the broccoli compound which claim to be Homeopathic medicines for attention problems?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – I actually don’t have expertise in that area and what I always want to do when I’m seeing a patient in my office is inquire whether the family is interested in things like that and get them to somebody who may know more about that. But, also talk about other treatment options. I think you’re right… for every family it’s an individual decision of what treatment to try first.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Exactly. Is there ADHD treatment options parents can do outside of supplements and medicines to help improve ADHD symptoms, and their child’s way of life?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – Yes, one of the most important things parents can do is to have a home setting where homework and planning can take place in a quiet and organized environment. That means having a routine after school. So, you might get home, have a snack, then a little bit of time to unwind, then it’s time to sit down and do your homework in a quiet place without distractions like TV and the internet. Parents can help kids by keeping a schedule of upcoming long term projects as well as nightly homework so the child can learn how to organize. And if your kid does have long term projects like a report on The United Nations that’s due tomorrow, then you can first do the internet research, write an outline, write a rough draft, and then a final draft so it’s not the night before that long term project’s due that mom or dad gets the “It’s 7 o’clock and I have 3-page paper due tomorrow” conversation, by having that ongoing dialogue and planning.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – That sounds great. Finally, what is the best way to get a diagnosis for ADHD?
ADHD Expert Adelaide Robb, MD – I think the best way to get a diagnosis is to pull in information from a variety of sources. We’ve talked about our teachers and our checkpoints. We’ve talked about reaching out to the primary care doctor. But, also reaching out to family members… so aunts and uncles who maybe haven’t seen the kid in a year may also notice, you know, “We were at the family dinner. Your child was running around the table hopping on and off. And, I’m kind of worried.” Or, the soccer coach who says “You know, I got your child in the defense position and the ball gets past him every time because he’s not following the ball and watching where it’s going. So, different bits of input can help the clinicians put together that clinical diagnosis of ADHD, so we can get started on making changes with how things are going and getting them started on treatment.
Contact ADHD expert Adelaide Robb to learn more about ADHD treatment options.