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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Identifying ADHD in Children

10/11/2000

Question:

My five year old grandson is being assessed for ADHD. What questions should my daughter ask about treatment therapies and medications? What kind of people should be involved with the treatment of this condition?

Answer:

Particularly since he is only five, his mother should first feel assured he is seeing someone who has assessed many young children for ADHD. As long as she has a good rapport with a good specialist, other things should fall into place. However, in general, the following can be important questions: 1. If ADHD is diagnosed, what criteria were used? There are specific criteria found in the medical manual referred to as the "DSM", although they were not formed specifically with very young children in mind. 2. Were other "co-morbidities" ruled out? This medical term refers to other concurrent problems such as depression, anxiety or learning disabilities. These should be carefully assessed for. 3. If medicine is suggested, how often will he be reassessed early-on while the right medicine and right dose are being looked for? (At The Affinity Center we sometimes do this daily for at least 2 or 3 days but may do it every few days---depends on the child. With a young child, careful frequent follow up may be very important, although some may do fine with 1-2 weeks between as long as caregivers know what to look for and how to contact healthcare professionals. 4. If any medicine is suggested, ask about common side effects, side effects that will likely decrease with time, and any serious side effects that are possible, even if rare. 5. Any others involved in treatment would vary depending on your grandson`s specific case. Finally, be aware that diagnosing such things in young children is not always easy or straight forward, even for experts. Thus, TRUST between the caregivers and the medical personnel is of utmost importance. Let us know how it goes!

For more information:

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati