When To See a Psychiatrist About an ADHD Child

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When To See a Psychiatrist About an ADHD Child By Robert Wilford, PhD

Student goofing off instead of studying

“It’s not ADHD!” When you see your child struggling and exhibiting symptoms like hyperactivity, short attention span, poor memory, and difficulty conversing, you might be inclined to toss out ADHD as a possibility.

Well, maybe it’s not ADHD, but maybe it is. If you aren’t sure but you see some ADHD signs in the child’s behavior it can be difficult to decide when it’s necessary to actually get a diagnosis. there are many misconceptions about this in the end the only responsible course of action is to find out the truth.

ADHD is considered a “spectrum disorder,” which means that it possesses many different subgroups with similar, but not identical, symptoms. As such, some people will experience mild ADHD symptoms, while others will experience severe, debilitating symptoms. Until you know where on the spectrum your child lies, it is difficult to know how best to address their problems. Even the term “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” refers to both inattentiveness and hyperactivity, which are not the same symptoms.

Some symptoms don’t even show up until later, such as sleep disturbance problems. The extent to which a child’s ADHD is causing problems is difficult to determine without a professional. While they aren’t infallible, professionals who are experts in ADHD should be able to give you a pretty precise definition of your child’s condition. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation and then suggest different treatment and coping options. Different professionals to consider include an ADHD specialist, a therapist, a coach, or a psychiatrist. Any of these professionals will be able to provide you with a more complete grasp of the symptoms and issues that come with ADHD. The truth is that ADHD pervades every aspect of your child’s life, making everything from personal relationships to school to work more challenging than they would be otherwise.

One objection many parents have is they don’t want to see their kids taking medication. Some don’t believe ADHD is even a real condition; but it’s something one can simply will oneself not to have. Ask yourself if you can will yourself not to have bad eyesight, or if you can will yourself out of having cancer. ADHD is a neurological condition, so even though it could seem like something a child is faking, it’s not fair to assume he or she can fix it through willpower. If your child has ADHD, she cannot outsmart it or will it away.

This isn’t to say you can’t make the condition easier to live with by adopting certain strategies. But, to say that an individual with ADHD should be able to focus and concentrate just as well as someone without it is to be insensitive and ignorant about the condition. The next step for with ADHD is to get started with some kind of treatment and this often takes the form of a stimulant medication like Adderall or Ritalin.

While this is a common and reasonable solution by no means do meds magically fix everything. Like nicotine patches in smoking that help you wean off cigarettes, ADHD meds can provide a solid foundation for shedding bad habits and forming healthier productive ones. But this doesn’t mean there’s no effort involved. There are some problems that the child must address whether taking medications or not, and the medications should serve the role of a helper, not a panacea.

Really, though, you won’t know what the solutions should be until you first know what problems the child is really trying to deal with. Instead of trying to treat the condition as a contest of willpower, seek the advice of professionals with expertise in ADHD treatment. Get their take on it, see what they think is going on, and find out what solutions they recommend. If you take the approach that the child is just being lazy, irresponsible, or hyper, without realizing there is a neurological basis for the behavior, you probably won’t be unable to properly address the behavioral problems. There is no denying that it can be scary to find out what problems the child has. Perhaps you might feel guilt, or shame, or sadness. These are valid emotions, but don’t let them prevent you from taking the necessary steps to help your child. A child who truly has ADHD can’t outlive or cure it; they must be taught reasonable steps to manage it and live the best possible life.

In the end, it truly is the parents’ responsibility to take care of their children the best they can. If you’re not sure whether your child has ADHD, you simply cannot provide them with the best possible care. Go to a professional, determine the right method of treatment, and proceed with knowledge. Ultimately, your child will be better off — and so will you.

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