May 4

I Think My Child Has ADHD. What Do I Do Next?

I Think My Child Has ADHD. What Do I Do Next?

May 4, 2023

adhd diagnosis children pasadena ca

If you’ve noticed your child is struggling with attention and hyperactivity, you’ve likely wondered if they have ADHD, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

If you’re not sure how the symptoms of ADHD appear in children, read this: “Does My Child have ADHD?” If your child is older than thirteen, read this instead: “Does my teen have ADHD?”

But if you’re fairly sure your child has problems with attention and hyperactivity, what do you do next?

Options for Parents who think their child has ADHD

Our understanding of ADHD improves all the time. Parents have more options than ever to help their children with their focus issues.

The great thing about these options, is that they can be attempted together, or separately. Some people benefit from the diagnosis route, while others prefer to break the big category of “attention” down into other smaller core functions, and then improve those core functions. (For more on this style of thinking, read “How Neurofeedback Manages ADHD and Other Disorders”)

Let’s explore some of the options you have for improving your child’s attention, focus, and quality of life.

Treatment from a Doctor or Pediatrician

One way to start is to get your child tested to confirm or discard the diagnosis. Many people go this route, because you’ll need a diagnosis in order to get a prescription.

However, there is the risk of misdiagnosis or a dependency on medication with this route.
Why is a diagnosis helpful?

Once you know the root cause of your child’s attention problems, you can figure out a plan of action to help your child improve their functioning. This plan of action can include many things, from helping set healthy sleep and eating habits, to possibly medication or natural methods of symptom management.

A positive diagnosis of ADHD can also result in government help for your child, including financial assistance for your family and individualized education plans at school, so your child can have personalized teaching that’s better suited for them.

You also want to confirm the diagnosis because ADHD-like symptoms can be present in children who don’t actually have ADHD. There could be a different underlying cause of their inattention or hyperactivity. If there’s something else going on, an ADHD screening will help find it out.

Where do I get my child diagnosed for ADHD?

To get a diagnosis, take your child to your family’s regular physician, your child’s pediatrician, or a psychiatrist or neuropsychologist. Any of these professionals will be able to administer an ADHD screening.

Either will be able to prescribe drugs to treat ADHD, should you decide to go that route. Keep in mind, a doctor’s training will make them likely to prescribe medication as the first resort. If you’re interested in trying other options, make that clear to your child’s doctor.

Before speaking with a medical professional, it can be helpful to discuss your child’s symptoms and treatment options with an expert in ADHD in children. These experts include:

  • Child psychologists or therapists
  • Your child’s school psychologist or counselor
  • Learning centers
  • Neurofeedback providers

These professionals will not be able to prescribe medication, but they are experts in managing ADHD in children. They can help you observe and describe the symptoms of your child’s inattention, to help your doctor render a more accurate diagnosis. 

These professionals can also help you come up with a symptom management plan that is tailored to your child’s individual needs, whether that involves a diagnosis-led prescription or not.

Keep in mind, an ADHD diagnosis is not a lifelong curse. It’s simply an explanation for struggles your child may be facing. (Read more: “How to Think About an ADHD Diagnosis”)

The Performance-Based Alternative

A doctor’s diagnosis is not the only option if you are having issues with attention. Before we talk about the other options, let’s break the question down even more. What is attention?

What attention looks like in the brain

In a neurocognitive sense, attention is the ability to direct the resources of our brain power to something specific.

The object of this direction can be either external, like listening to a teacher give a lecture, or it can be internal, like remembering to grab your keys before you walk out your front door or making a decision.

Awareness has two other components, as well: the ability to hold attention on one object of interest, and the ability to stop your attention from jumping to something else in the environment, AKA selectively ignoring things around you in order to maintain focus.

How do we measure attention?

The problem is, it’s hard to detect what’s going on in the brain. At least, not without advanced tools like our brain map.

That’s why for decades we’ve measured attention according to a child’s behavior. For instance, ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is usually diagnosed by comparing a child’s behavior against a list of common behaviors shared among children with ADHD. If a child checks off enough boxes, they’re considered to have ADHD.

However, since attention is a process happening within the mind, a more accurate measurement could be detecting the brain’s activity itself. That’s why at Vital Head and Spine we use qEEG brain mapping technology in order to measure the mind’s ability to focus and pay attention.

How to understand focus and attention

First, we have to understand that paying attention is not a goal within itself. There is nothing morally good about being able to sit down and read a book for hours on end without interruption, just as there is nothing really morally bad with jumping from activity to activity.

Once we understand this, we can recognize focus and attention are really just tools. They help us accomplish our goals, be it in school, work, or relationships. They are not an end unto themselves.

If you want to manage your ADHD symptoms, what you are really trying to do is sharpen your tools of focus and attention. If you have “improve my focus” as a goal in your mind, rather than “stop my ADHD”, you’ll be more motivated and more likely to succeed in your true goal.

How the performance-based mindset can help your child

In order to improve our focus, we have to move away from a determinist identity (“I have ADHD and I will always have it”) to a performance-based mindset. This focuses on our behaviors and tasks, and how it feels while accomplishing those tasks, rather than our identity.

There are a number of ways to improve your brain’s performance, but before you undertake them, you have to shift your thinking.

You have ADHD, but it is not a life sentence, or an excuse. It is a challenge that you can overcome, and by improving your performance, you will improve your quality of life. Nor do you need an officially confirmed diagnosis to start improving your focus and attention.

Options for Improving Brain Performance

If you’re interested in the managing your child’s ADHD symptoms without medication, or in addition to a prescription, read “Managing ADHD Naturally, Without Medication.”

Symptom management options include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Changes in diet and exercise
  • Healthy sleep boundaries
  • More time outside
  • Neurofeedback and brain training
  • Behavioral Therapy

Your child’s unique situation and your treatment preferences might include several different experts in child development or brain science. By working together with a team of professionals, you will be able to help your child effectively, so that they move past their diagnosis or symptoms to a new level of function and quality of life.

Read more about children and ADHD…

  • How does an ADHD diagnosis affect a child’s self-esteem?
  • What are the different types of ADHD?
  • 3 things you can do every day to help a child with ADHD
  •  Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Want to learn more about attention?

Watch our interview with LD Expert Live, sponsored by Stowell Learning Centers, and learn more about understanding attention and focus.

The discussion centers around parents helping their children, but it also has a number of good tips for adults who are looking to improve their focus, as well.

What are your child’s biggest ADHD challenges? Find out by taking this quiz.

Fill out this questionnaire and we’ll help you discover your child’s unique symptom profile.

At Vital, we’ve helped hundreds of students  access higher levels of brain function for less stress, more success. With our personalized brain training, you will get to know your brain, and know how best to improve your child’s ADHD symptoms.

With a more calm and focused mind, they’ll have the resilience to meet the challenges of today, and be ready to conquer the challenges of tomorrow.

Start your child’s journey to improved brain function today.