Hi Dr. Deb,
I was referred to you by my friend. She said you would be able to help me with my son. Earlier this week during a parent teacher conference his teacher and I came to the conclusion that he should be looked at for ADD/ADHD. He is a good hearted child he just has trouble focusing. There are times when we are sitting together doing homework with a subject he is familiar with and has done quite well on and he just seems like no one is home. As if his mind is somewhere else. His teacher had noticed that same behavior. He also has trouble with staying focused during conversations and can even be so preoccupied that he forgets to use the bathroom.
What can I do to help my son and where should I start?
Thank you so much for your inquiry. I totally understand your concerns about your son, and would be very happy to provide you some suggestions.
I think it is certainly a good idea to have him evaluated for ADHD. This can help you better understand what may be causing your son’s difficulty with focus, and can help design strategies to help him be successful at home and at school.
(See my blog article on strategies to manage attention difficulties without using medication.. http://how2helpmychild.com/uncategorized/manage-adhd-without-meds-part1/ ) ADHD can result in focus difficulties in many areas, which can lead to difficulties completing school work, difficulty maintaining topics of conversation, or difficulties self-regulating (such as switching gears, or self-monitoring).
As for where to find someone to conduct an evaluation, many begin with their child’s pediatrician, who can usually offer a referral to a psychologist or other health professional to perform an assessment. Although many pediatricians may diagnose ADHD themselves, it is becoming less and less common these days, as more pediatricians realize they simply do not have the time, nor the experience to assess for ADHD within their pediatric practice. A good evaluation should consist of a thorough interview with you (and sometimes your child’s teachers), some questionnaire measures for you and your child’s teacher to complete, and direct assessment of your child (which can involve one or more psychological tests). Do not accept a diagnosis from someone who meets with your child for less than an hour, or with someone who simply runs down a list of symptoms with you, without taking the time to get to know your child. Many conditions outside of ADHD can manifest with difficulties in attention and focus and it is very important that these conditions are ruled out.
If your pediatrician does not offer names, you can always consult your insurance plan for a list of approved providers, or consult the Psychology Today online directory or the San Diego Psychological Association directory. Look for a provider with specialized training in child development and behavior, and someone whose practice is comprised of at least 30 – 50 % children. Let me know if I can provide you more direct assistance, since I am local and know many individuals in the area.
Please keep me posted on how it goes, and let me know if you have any further questions!