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Dealing With ADHD

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?
Children mature at different rates and have different personalities, temperaments, and energy levels. Most children get distracted, act impulsively, and struggle to concentrate at one time or another. Sometimes, these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD.

ADHD symptoms usually appear early in life, often between the ages of 3 and 6, and because symptoms vary from person to person, the disorder can be hard to diagnose. Parents may first notice that their child loses interest in things sooner than other children, or seems constantly "out of control."

Often, teachers notice the symptoms first, when a child has trouble following rules, or frequently "spaces out" in the classroom or on the playground. No single test can diagnose a child as having ADHD. Instead, a licensed health professional needs to gather information about the child, and his or her behavior and environment. A family may want to first talk with the child's paediatrician. 

Some paediatricians can assess the child themselves, but some will refer the family to a therapist. The pediatrician or therapist will first try to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms. For example, certain situations, events, or health conditions may cause temporary behaviours in a child that seem like ADHD.

The referring pediatrician and therapist, will determine if a child:

  • Is experiencing undetected seizures that could be associated with other medical conditions

  • Has a middle ear infection that is causing hearing problems 

  • Has any undetected hearing or vision problems

  • Has any medical problems that affect thinking and behavior

  • Has any learning disabilities

  • Has anxiety or depression, or other psychiatric problems that might cause ADHD- like symptoms

  • Has been affected by a significant and sudden change, such as the death of a family member, a divorce, or parent's job loss.

  • The Therapist will also check school and medical records for clues, to see if the child's home or school settings appear unusually stressful or disrupted, and gather information from the child's parents and teachers, coaches, babysitters, and other adults who know the child well also may be consulted. 

The Therapist will also ask:

  • Are the behaviors excessive and long-term, and do they affect all aspects of the child's life? 

  • Do they happen more often in this child compared with the child's peers?

  • Are the behaviors a continuous problem or a response to a temporary situation?

  • Do the behaviours occur in several settings or only in one place, such as the playground, classroom, or home? 

The Therapist pays close attention to the child's behavior during different situations. Some situations are highly structured, some have less structure.   Others would require the child to keep paying attention.

Most children with ADHD are better able to control their behaviors in situations where they are getting individual attention and when they are free to focus on enjoyable activities.


These types of situations are less important in the assessment.  A child also may be evaluated to see how he or she acts in social situations, and may be given tests of intellectual ability and academic achievement to see if he or she has a learning disability.

Finally, if after gathering all this information the child meets the criteria for ADHD, he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.

It might be a good idea to have your child tested for any learning challenges or advance learning ability.



Occupational Therapist

Physical Therapist


Your can also take your child to his/her doctor who may make a diagnosis, or refer you to a specialist who is more experienced with ADHD.


There is no single test that can tell if your child has ADHD.  Your doctor may recommend additional treatments and interventions based on your child's symptoms and needs.

Some children with ADHD, for example, might need special educational interventions such as tutoring and occupational therapy. Every child's needs are different.


Children with ADHD can get better with treatment, but there is no cure. There are three basic types of treatment: 


  • Medication. Several medications can help. The most common types are called stimulants. Medications help children focus, learn, and stay calm.   Sometimes medications cause side effects, such as sleep problems or stomachaches. Your child may need to try a few medications to see which one works best. It’s important that you and your doctor watch your child closely while he or she is taking medicine.

  • Therapy. There are different kinds of therapy. Behavioral therapy can help teach children to control their behavior so they can do better at school and at home.

  • Medication and therapy combined. Many children do well with both medication and

Tips to Help Children Stay Organized and Follow Directions


  • Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up
    time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.

  • ganize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This  includes clothing, backpacks, and toys. 

  • Use homework and notebook organizers. Use
    organizers for school material and supplies.

  • Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books. Be clear and consistent.

  • Children with ADHD need consistent rules they
    can understand and follow. Give praise or rewards when rules are followed.

  • Children with ADHD often receive and expect

  • Criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it.

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