The current gaps in ADHD diagnosis and how to provide better care
Diagnosing a child with ADHD can be difficult, and so can giving care. Here's what parents of children with ADHD have to say.
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In America, 6.1% of children are currently diagnosed and treated for Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There has been an increase in diagnoses of 42% in the last eight years. According to Healthline, children usually begin to display symptoms of ADHD around the ages of 3-6, but most children are not diagnosed until age 7.
How does this affect the parents of children with ADHD? In this post, you will hear personal accounts from several parents of children with ADHD.
How do parents decide to get their child evaluated for ADHD?
One Reddit user recommends that parents concerned that their child might have ADHD first try doing their research before rushing to get an official evaluation. Many resources are available online, including books for purchase or studies from experts. Talking with educators and others who have ADHD––or parents of children with ADHD––might also be a helpful way to learn more about other symptoms and experiences and if they sound familiar.
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Another Reddit user advises concerned parents not to jump to conclusions right away. They say their children, twin boys, started to develop behavioral problems that could have been considered ADHD-related. However, they discovered that their children did not have ADHD but were experiencing mood swings and behavioral shifts due to hormonal changes. Regardless, this experience is different from parent to parent, child to child. If your child's behavior becomes concerning, do not hesitate to contact a professional to get an evaluation.
According to WebMD, children needing evaluation can approach pediatricians, psychiatrists, and child psychologists to receive an official ADHD diagnosis. The standard guidelines for determining a diagnosis come from the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
In addition to observing the child, professionals will also ask caregivers and parents questions about the child's behavior daily to see if they display typical symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
What do parents of children with ADHD struggle with the most?
One Reddit user claims that the number one struggle they have as a parent of a child with ADHD is receiving unsolicited advice from strangers or people who know little about ADHD. Often, they explain that people will notice their child's behavior and approach them with suggestions about medications or treatments. This type of behavior from others can be complicated daily as a parent.
Another struggle for parents, according to Reddit, is that strangers and other parents unaware of the neurodevelopmental disorder will be quick to judge their child's behavior. For example, if their child is having a meltdown due to overstimulation, people are quick to make remarks or cast glances. It can be challenging for parents to cope with this, as they cannot always explain what is happening to other strangers.
Lastly, a common frustration among parents of children with ADHD is the lack of education of others about the disorder or the abundance of misinformation about the condition. Having to explain their child's behavior constantly can be challenging and tiresome. Many parents wish that more people were aware of the symptoms of ADHD to understand better when a child is displaying signs in public.
What advice would parents of children with ADHD give to other parents or teachers unfamiliar with the disorder?
Many parents on Reddit ask others to have more compassion for those parents and children affected by ADHD. It is easy to pass judgment on a child acting out, but being more considerate and sympathetic to the parents and child can make all the difference.
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Others on Reddit request that those unfamiliar with ADHD––whether you be a teacher with a student in your class that has ADHD or a parent whose child has a classmate with ADHD––become educated on the disorder. With all the resources available online, it is not difficult or time-consuming to learn about ADHD. It is especially beneficial to educate yourself if you know someone with ADHD.
What are the next steps after receiving a diagnosis?
The CDC breaks down the treatment of ADHD for parents into two categories: children younger than six years of age and school-age children and adolescents. They provide these distinctions because they believe it is crucial to try behavior therapy for more youthful children before turning to medication. Treatment for adolescents can be a combination of both.
Regardless of their age, the CDC recommends that parents create an effective and beneficial environment for their child or adolescent with ADHD by doing the following:
Be clear and specific when you talk with your child.
Use goals and praise or other rewards.
Create positive opportunities.
Ultimately, having a good understanding of ADHD and the recommended treatments is beneficial to those with the disorder or those impacted by it. It is never too late to educate yourself on the effects of ADHD to have more sympathy for parents of or children with the disorder. In addition, educating your children about the condition will help them recognize it in their classmates so that they can be compassionate and understanding.