Choosing a Specialist to Treat ADHD
with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face an array of
challenges, including problems in school and in social situations. That’s why comprehensive
treatment is key. A child with ADHD should see a variety of educational, mental
health, and pediatric specialists.
Primary Care Doctor
A primary care doctor should be where
you go first if you suspect that your child has ADHD. This is your child’s
pediatrician. They will attempt to rule out any alternative diagnoses for your
child’s symptoms. Your child’s doctor may prescribe medication if they believe
that ADHD is causing the symptoms. However, they can’t provide counseling. They
may refer you to a mental health specialist who can help your child develop
coping strategies to manage the various symptoms of ADHD.
Psychologists are mental health
professionals who can provide social skills training and behavior modification
therapy. Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology. Psychologists don’t have a medical degree and
are not qualified to prescribe medication. If a psychologist believes
medication is necessary, they can refer you to a doctor who can issue a
However, they may be able to help
your child overcome the symptoms of ADHD by other means. Psychologists may test
your child’s IQ and use other tests to assess your child’s emotional and social
As a parent of someone with ADHD, you
may be under as much stress as your child, and it’s helpful if you have a
qualified person to talk to.
Psychiatrists are mental health
professionals who have the ability to diagnose ADHD, prescribe medication to treat
it, and provide counseling or therapy to patients with the disorder.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have three additional years of training
in treating mental health conditions. It’s best to seek out a psychiatrist who
has experience treating childhood mental disorders like ADHD.
Social workers are professionals who
focus specifically on helping people cope with issues in their everyday lives.
A social worker may observe your child in order to document mood swings and
behavior patterns. They’ll then work with you and your child to make changes
that will help your child be more successful in social situations.
Social workers who treat ADHD have a
master’s degree in social work, but will most likely not have a medical degree
and can’t prescribe medication. If necessary, a social worker may refer you to
a doctor who can issue a prescription.
children with ADHD have problems with speech and language development and may
need to be referred to a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language
pathologist may work with your child’s teacher to change the classroom
environment to help the child function better in class. The pathologist may
also help your child learn to communicate more effectively in social situations.
They’ll work to help your child develop better planning, organization, and
How to Find the Right Specialist
The first step is to call your health insurance company to find
out which services are covered and whether they have a list of mental health
specialists in your area who are in-network. You can then ask
your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for a referral.
Your pediatrician should have the names of therapists in
your area who focus on childhood mental disorders. Another way to get
recommendations is to talk to other parents of children with ADHD. Those
parents can be a good resource for referrals.
What to Look for in a Specialist
Because coping with ADHD is an intimate process, it’s important to
find a specialist you feel comfortable with and whom you think is taking your
condition seriously. This can seem difficult, especially if you’ve never met
with a mental health provider. It might take some trial and error before
settling in with the right therapist.
Once you have some recommendations, call each specialist and ask
questions about their practice. These may include how much experience they have
treating ADHD, which methods they use to treat ADHD, and how easy it is to make
appointments. You might need to try out a few different therapists before you
find someone you can trust and talk with openly. If you or your child starts to
see one specialist and you decide that it’s not working, you can always try