ADHD is a common disorder which affects
approximately 5% of children and which includes distractibility,
impulsivity, and in some cases, hyperactivity. These
features can cause problems in school performance,
relationships, and self-esteem. Early identification
and treatment of this condition can be very helpful.
Treatment consists of supportive strategies to manage
the symptoms at school and at home. Medication options
can also often be useful and includes stimulants (Ritalin,
Dexedrine, Adderall, etc.) antidepressants (Wellbutrin,
Zoloft, Prozac, Tofranil, etc.) and others (Catapres,
Tenex, Buspar, etc.).
All that distracts is not ADHD! A thorough medical
evaluation is necessary to make the proper diagnosis.
Many other issues can interfere with concentration
and imitate ADHD but are really very different. These
other conditions include learning disabilities, language
disorders, epilepsy (especially absence or petite
mal seizures), sleep disorders, thyroid and other
medical disorders, some genetic conditions, Tourette
Syndrome, stress, depression, and others.
If you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s
development, you should discuss fully with his/her
teacher and pediatrician. These professionals can
guide you as to whether further evaluation by a child
neurologist, child psychologist, child psychiatrist,
or other specialist is appropriate.
A neurodevelopmental evaluation by a child
1. Extensive interview of the child and parents.
2. Review of school records and rating scales from
teachers and parents.
3. Physical and neurologic examinations.
4. Some formal testing of neurocognitive domains (fine
motor, gross motor, auditory, visual, memory, language,
and academic skills).
5. In some cases other evaluation may be needed such
as EEG, head MRI/CT, blood and urine tests, complete
psychometric/educational testing, or referral to other
specialists such as geneticists, psychiatrists, or
The neurologist and family then work together to devise
a treatment plan including supportive strategies and
possibly medication, with adjustments made periodically
as the child grows and progresses.