Freehold Borough ADHD Testing

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Empowered Learning Transformation Centers

In a continuation from our previous post about diagnosing childhood ADHD in your family, Empowered Learning Transformation Centers continues to address this topic and share more information on this area of family counseling.

 

Boy Giant Smile

If you suspect your child may have ADHD, the first step in treatment is to meet with a trained professional to get an accurate diagnosis and picture of what might be going on. An ADHD assessment can include testing, including, but not limited to intelligence and achievement tests, behavioral questionnaires completed by parents and teachers, physical exams, and a thorough medical history. A psychologist (a trained professional with a doctoral degree in psychology) is a qualified individual who can administer and interpret these tests.

 

There are two main approaches to treating ADHD:

 

Drug Therapy

While this type of treatment for ADHD remains controversial, there is a great deal of evidence that shows that it is effective for many children with ADHD. Many of the drugs that have been proven to help are actually stimulants. Some of the popularly prescribed stimulants that treat ADHD include: Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Vyvanse, Metadate, and Concerta. The side effects of these medications often include decreased appetite, sleep problems, irritability, and anxiety. (There are other specific side-effects for each drug. This information can be obtained from your doctor or the drug manufacturer.)

There are questions about the various drug therapies for children with ADHD. Some parents worry that putting their children on stimulant medication will make them prone to abuse controlled substances when they get older. To this point, there is no conclusive evidence to support this concern.

 

Psychotherapy

Therapy for children with ADHD often focuses on behavior modification and social skills training. Many children with ADHD need help learning to slow down and think through their behaviors and the resulting consequences. They also need help learning to read other people’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Therapy may also involve various family members, sometimes the entire immediate family. Children with ADHD need help from their environments, the most important of which is the home environment. To put a child in therapy and then not make changes in the environments that support the changes that are being worked on in therapy is setting a child up for failure and discouragement. Parents also need help understanding the unique needs of a child with ADHD and the appropriate developmental expectations for their child. Many times a therapist may visit a child’s classroom. Many classrooms are not structured for children with ADHD. In some cases, many classrooms are not structured for the normal developmental needs of little boys (boys are diagnosed with ADHD more than girls). Boys are typically louder, more active, and more aggressive than little girls. This is both due to genetics (boys’ and girls’ brains are wired differently and their brain chemistry is different) and the way we socialize boys and girls (we socialize boys to be tough and rough and tumble and girls to be polite, more quiet, and feminine). Neither of these differences is bad, simply different. Classrooms are often much easier for girls to navigate (stay in your seat, work quietly) than their male counterparts. The therapist can offer recommendations for the teacher to help children with ADHD maneuver through their day with as few disruptions as possible. The therapist can help the teacher read the child’s cues as to when he/she needs to get up and move around or when his/her attention is waning.

 

Combined Drug and Psychotherapy Treatment

Many practitioners recommend combining drug therapy with psychotherapy. This is often the most preferred approach to treating ADHD as both types of therapy have been shown to be helpful, but both also have their limits. The medication can address the brain chemistry that may need leveling out and the psychotherapy can address the behaviors and train the child and his/her brain to make better choices in terms of behaviors. If ADHD is caused by brain structure, brain chemistry, and the environment, combining drug therapy and psychotherapy are a double whammy and most likely the best approach to treating ADHD.

 

As with all mental and emotional disorders, if you are concerned about someone you love who may have the symptoms of ADHD, contact a trained professional for a thorough assessment and to develop a treatment approach. Don’t be afraid to take the first step to helping relieve some of the stress caused by these issues. There are people and treatments available to help.

 

 

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