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Who Can You Trust When Your Child Shows Signs Of AD/HD?
If your child is exhibiting AD/HD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms, should you rush to the doctor for a final diagnosis? Well, it's hard to say. It really depends on the severity of the symptoms and their duration. If something happened yesterday that never happened before, you're worrying for nothing. If it's something that you've seen in your child's behavior over a period of six months or more, then put your fears to rest. Find out if your child has AD/HD and learn to deal with it. But who can give you that diagnosis? If you have never dealt with ADD or ADHD before, you probably don't know that you can count on a variety of sources.
Online resources may be helpful, as will pediatricians, family doctors, teachers and school officials, but the most helpful references you may receive will come from parents of children who have already been diagnosed. Recommendations may be for pediatricians, psychologists, neurologists or psychiatrists, too. So, what makes one resource better than another? To help you determine, here are the differences among the available resources: Pediatricians complete four years of medical school, an internship, and a residency in their specialty. They can diagnose illnesses and they watch how your child grows. They can diagnose AD/HD, but their practices are mainly quick visits, not long evaluations.
If they suspect AD/HD, they will probably send you on for further evaluation. Developmental pediatricians specialize in watching a child's growth in many areas--physical, social, and mental, and they will make a full analysis of your child for AD/HD. When they discover that this is the cause of a developmental issue, they will treat the development issue. When they find other problems associated with juvenile AD/HD, they will probably form a team of specialists to address everything else. Child psychiatrists have medical degrees and specialize in childhood mental abnormalities. Though they diagnose AD/HD, they rarely provide counseling. Think of them like the pediatrician of the mind. They will diagnose and prescribe, and they will monitor the prescription's affect on your child's particular brand of AD/HD, but they will offer little help with behavioral issues in the classroom, for instance. Pediatric neurologists diagnose and treat central nervous system disorders in children. They usually don't treat kids with AD/HD, unless they exhibit a tic or a syndrome, like Tourette's, if it's associated with the child's AD/HD.
Clinical psychologists aren't medical doctors. They're PhDs and they will provide diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD. They want to discover what the underlying causes of AD/HD might be in the child, and address them. The whole family may be part of the affected child's treatment. Though they don't issue medications, they will recommend it to your family physician or pediatrician, when they feel it's needed. Pediatric neuropsychologists are also PhDs, but with a post-doctoral specialty in training. They can evaluate your child for AD/HD, and are helpful in determining a child's specific strengths and weaknesses through the study of their brain function. Though they do not offer treatment, they will prepare suggestions for you and your child's teachers on how to approach your child's particular brand of AD/HD. Educational psychologists have either a master's degree or a PhD in education, and specialize in learning disabilities. Though they can diagnose AD/HD, their only assistance be in designing your AD/HD child's specialized education.
In conjunction with recommendations made by a pediatric neuropsychologist, this can be very powerful. Though any of these professionals can diagnose your child, not all of them will be right for him or her with regard to ADD or ADHD. Choose the right person for you, and if you're comfortable and your child is comfortable with their help and advice, then you're on the right track. But don't hesitate. Don't let your child go through 2 or 3 grades before coming to a diagnosis. That only leads to more stress for everyone. Allow a professional to tell you whether or not your child has ADD or ADHD when you or a teacher suspects it. When the diagnosis comes, explain to them that they are special, and work on finding areas where their quick, intelligent, and creative brains can flourish. If you do this early, your child will have greater self-esteem, and lead a happier, more productive life.
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