This article originally appeared in Star Chronicle, a newsletter
published for the Children's Medical Center.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects nearly two-million
children in the United States and is one of the most common developmental
disorders. A clinic has opened at the Children's Medical Center that provides
diagnosis of ADHD in children, which oftentimes is what parents and teachers
need to help the child cope with the symptoms of the disorder.
Staff at the clinic evaluates children between the ages of five and 12 for
the presence of ADHD, whether or not their cases involve hyperactivity. Over
three visits, a developmental and behavioral physician identifies whether the
child's behaviors are typical for his or her age level, or if a problem is
present that needs to be addressed.
The first visit involves both parent and child. In a nonthreatening way, the
conversation focuses on the child's health, developmental, school, family and
social history. The physician looks at how the child functions in an
unstructured setting, and how well motor, language and conversational skills are
developed. Social interactions with the doctor and parent are observed.
The second visit focuses on the child. In a structured environment,
developmental and/or academic testing evaluates areas such as fine motor
development, reading fluency and comprehension, writing and math. The child is
told that the tests are to show the areas where teachers and parents need to
give him or her a bit more help.
The last visit is for feedback. Depending on the age, the child may or may
not be included in this appointment. The parents and physician review what is
happening with the child and what could be helpful to him or her. A report is
sent to the parents to give to the child's teachers, and then, if follow-up
questions arise, the staff is available to discuss them. When medication is
recommended, the clinic will work with the primary care provider in arranging
for a trial.
The primary care provider follows the child's care, so responding to
physician's questions quickly is important to the team. A lot has been learned
about ADHD over the past several years, and physicians are now able to identify
and treat children so they can lead more productive lives.