Parenting does not come with a manual. Most of the time we just fly by the seat of our pants. But there is that instinct – that “gut feeling” – about our children that we learn to listen to when it pings.
Many parents realize there is an underlying reason why their child is restless, inattentive, and/or disruptive when they start school. For some, that answer could ultimately be the diagnosis of ADHD for their child.
Analysis of parent-reported data found that 9.5% of children ages 4–17 years were diagnosed with ADHD, and, according to a recent population-based study, 15.5% of school children enrolled in Grades 1 to 5 have ADHD.
Knowing you aren’t alone may be a comfort, but what comes next for your child? An ADHD diagnosis can be daunting to determine the best way to raise a successful child. Here are some tips that may help:
- First, try to understand what the diagnosis means for your child. There are many resources available to help parents learn more about the disorder. Understood.org, for example, offers free solutions for parents and features children telling their own stories. Parents can filter by age group or by specific issues (like organization, attention, or writing) to learn more about what it’s like to live with ADHD.
- Next, realize that this diagnosis impacts more than just your child. What does this mean for you and your family? Make sure that your child’s strengths and weaknesses are considered in your day-to-day family structure and activities.
- It’s important to determine a course of treatment that is right for your family. The most common include behavioral therapy, medication, or some combination of both. There are also paths for improving specific social skills and executive function, i.e. the mental skills that help you get things done.
- According to a 2013 report from Consumer Reports, “What to Expect from an ADHD Diagnosis,” more than half of the children (59 percent) were prescribed medication immediately after an ADHD diagnosis was made. If you choose to treat your child’s ADHD with medication, help ensure they are prescribed the right one and at the right dose.
- A pharmacogenomic test like GeneSight® can give you and your doctor a road map to get your child on a medication that is best for them. Medications used to treat ADHD include stimulants and non-stimulants, which are designed to help with inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Some anti-depressants can also be prescribed. Your child’s metabolism may require a smaller or larger dose than the standard recommendation.
- Importantly, plan for follow-ups: Make sure that you and your child are getting the support you need from school and teachers, from counselors, and from health care providers. This can include anything from advice to resources to empathy.
- Finally, watch for improvements. Adherence to schedules, completion of tasks, and/or advances in grades are all signs that your child is on the right track. And so are you!
Who needs a manual anyway? You’ve got this!
NOTE: If your pediatrician does not offer the GeneSight test, use our “physician finder” feature, available at GeneSight.com.