One of the most difficult disorders to diagnose is ADHD. This is because the symptoms of the disorder are common; even normal children display behavioral traits like impulsiveness, hyperactivity or inattentiveness. It is for the ADHD doctor, that is a doctor who has specialized in treating ADHD cases, to find out which child is suffering from ADHD and which child is not.
The doctor’s task is made doubly difficult by the absence of reliable diagnostic tools. The doctor has to depend on psychometric tests to decide whether a child has an ADHD disorder or not.
To do so, the doctor needs to build the child’s medical history first. This document should carry details like psychiatric history, family history, home and daycare conditions, school performance, illnesses, diet, sleep, and social behavior.
This information should be gathered by the doctor over two or three sessions. Besides the child, the doctor should also speak to the child’s parents, friends and school teachers. The doctor’s next step is to put the child on medication. The common medication prescribed by doctors is stimulants. These stimulants work by regulating the levels of dopamine released by the body. However, the doctors need to regulate the dosage carefully. This should be in accordance with the severity of the disorder and the age of the child. Some drugs like Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) and Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine) can be taken by children who are above three years. Other drugs like Ritalin (methylphenidate), Concerta (methylphenidate) is to be given to children who are six years and older.
Besides medication, the doctor can also suggest behavioral therapy. Such therapy helps the child to gain confidence. Some doctors want the parents to be present in the therapy classes. Their argument is that a parent who understands the disorder better can take better care of the child.