According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, 9.4% of children ages 2-17 have been given a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). If you are wondering whether or not your child has ADHD, there are a few very important things to understand before you have your child evaluated for it. Here's what to consider.
ADHD isn't always one-size-fits-all
There are 3 types of ADHD: hyperactive, inattentive, and combined. Also, there are several conditions that are comorbid with ADHD, including autism, anxiety, and depression. These variables sometimes make it challenging for parents, because they may think of another child they may know who has been diagnosed for comparison. Given all the variables, two children who are both diagnosed with ADHD may display different symptoms and behaviors based on what type of ADHD they have and if they have any comorbidities. That said, stay open minded throughout the entire evaluation process.
Your child should have a complete routine physical
Part of the process of evaluating a child for ADHD involves ruling other things out, such as hearing or vision problems, as well as absence seizures and sleeping problems. Your child's pediatrician can rule these types of issues in or out, but you should still have your child evaluated for ADHD regardless since there is a chance of comorbidities.
Also, speak with the pediatrician in depth if your child has been diagnosed with or is suspected as having a food sensitivity or a food allergy, as these can worsen symptoms of ADHD in some children. Depending on the findings, your child may need to be assessed by an allergist and/or a nutritionist as well.
Get input from teachers and caregivers
Often, it's teachers or caregivers who suggest to parents that their child may have ADHD or a learning disability. To prepare for the ADHD evaluation, ask your child's teachers and/or caregivers to provide a written statement about what they've noticed regarding symptoms and behaviors. Keep those statements together for the evaluation appointment to help the evaluator assess your child for ADHD.
Keep a journal of everything
In the week(s) leading up to the evaluation, keep a journal to log everything, particularly what your child has consumed, how much sleep they've gotten, what symptoms and behaviors you've noticed, etc. Write down the times as well as the settings. Doing this will help the evaluation process run more smoothly, especially because you won't worry about if you'll remember everything when you're asked questions about your child during the evaluation.