House Call: Children and ADHD
Despite common misconception, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) does not correspond with a lower IQ, and actually children with ADHD often have higher IQ’s than the general population. ADHD is also a condition that tends to run in families and affects more boys than girls.
An accurate diagnosis and assessment of the severity of ADHD in children is critical to providing the best possible treatment, as well as helping them adjust to school, extra-curricular activity and social settings.
Once a child is diagnosed with ADHD, parents should discuss with their child’s doctor whether or not medication is needed to treat the symptoms of their condition.
ADHD medications are central nervous system stimulants with help improve attention span, decrease impulsivity, and improve fine-motor control. They are not meant to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment—there are several different types that may affect different children in different ways, depending on the type and severity of their condition. ADHD medications should be utilized as part of a multi-modal treatment plan, which includes behavioral and educational modifications, and should be prescribed appropriately to the child’s age and weight.
Parents and teachers can help children with ADHD in the classroom and home settings by making a few lifestyle modifications. For instance, children who struggle with attentiveness may respond better to learning with head phones on to drown out other distractions in the classroom. At home, parents should encourage their child to have quiet or relaxation time after school, before starting their homework. Adequate time for completing homework should also be factored into the after-school routine.
Most importantly, parents should discuss their child’s condition with their school teachers, and keep open channels of communication with them throughout the school year to stay abreast of upcoming lesson plans and how they will be taught.
Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral and developmental health professionals dedicated to properly diagnosing and treating patients with ADHD, as well as educating parents of children with the condition in the community.
Dr. Susan Farrell is a neurodevelopmental disabilities specialist and the medical director of Cone Health Developmental and Psychological Center. Dr. Farrell is board certified in both neurodevelopmental disabilities and pediatrics, and has been published several times for her research on pediatric development. She is a 1971 graduate of University of Kansas Medical School. She completed her residency in pediatrics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed a fellowship in neurodevelopmental pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital – Kennedy Krieger Institute.