Whether it is school, softball practice, chores at home, homework or extracurricular groups, kids with ADHD encounter countless challenges throughout their day. Many parents find that learning how best to help their child overcome those challenges is difficult, at best. With so many forms of treatment available, it can be hard to know what works, what does not and what strategies may work with modification designed for that particular individual. For these reasons, The Center at Children’s Health Council (CHC) addresses ADHD with a unified plan, personalized to fit each child.

Getting the Facts About a Complicated Disorder

ADHD has the most robust research literature for any psychiatric disorder that starts during childhood. However, since most children show some of the symptoms some of the time, parents and more than a few clinicians and teachers continue to question its existence. Adding to this confusion, while ADHD is highly responsive to a wide range of interventions, including medications and behavioral approaches, current treatments merely provide symptom relief, not a cure. Problem behaviors recur as soon as treatment stops, and sometimes previously effective treatments just stop working.

To help parents and community partners gain a better understanding of ADHD, CHC offers onsite parent education classes throughout the year. On December 6th, Drs. Glen Elliott and Vivien Keil, leaders of The Center’s ADHD Clinic, will offer a free presentation called “Distracted, Disorganized & Impulsive:  Treatment Options to Help Kids with ADHD Symptoms” (pre-register online: chconline.eventbrite.com). The class will focus on difficulties related to executive functioning, a common cluster of skills involved in planning and follow-through, e.g., prioritizing, consolidating related tasks, setting the right pace to meet deadlines and managing time.

Help for ADHD can come from a range of sources. For instance, children who have difficulties with executive functioning may benefit from working with an occupational therapist to develop organizational skills. In consultation with one of our staff neuropsychologists or psychiatrists, your family may decide that medication is the best option for your child. Our specialist will work closely with your family to navigate the process and find the best form of treatment for your child. To tackle problems that often accompany ADHD such as anxiety and learning disabilities, your child may also need the help of an educational specialist or psychologist. Your child can receive help in any of these areas and others, including psychiatry and speech-language therapy, from specialists in The Center.

Zeroing in on a Moving Target

Treating ADHD is problematic in part because specific problems often are a moving target. Your child’s symptoms may appear significantly different than another child’s, and symptoms change over time. While it is clear that ADHD-related symptoms lessen over the lifetime for nearly everyone, it is equally clear that social and academic expectations continue to rise, often at a faster pace. The “flash point” occurs when a child’s abilities can no longer keep pace with external pressures and expectations, i.e., demands from peers, teachers and parents. These two sets of changes—individual ability and external demands—mean that ADHD requires different kinds of help and presents different kinds of risks over time.

Because we understand that the best treatment plans mean flexibility, clinicians from The Center will conduct frequent check-ins with you and your child to assess what is working and what is not. The more we get to know your child and family, the more precise and effective we can be with the treatment he receives through The Center.

One-Day Evaluation

To help families navigate the interrelated needs of a child with ADHD, The Center provides a streamlined, one-day evaluation when ADHD seems to be the primary cause of problems. During the evaluation, specialists work to detect and diagnose ADHD as well as assess your child’s cognitive abilities. Using this information, specialists pinpoint and define your child’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to executive functioning, attention and processing speed.

As part of your child’s one-day evaluation, specialists from The Center will also gather information from teachers, coaches and other adults who interact closely with your child to provide a fuller picture of your child’s needs in different areas. By getting to know your child from different perspectives, we are able to recommend treatment that facilitates success in every facet of life, from school to home to social situations.

After your child’s evaluation is completed, The Center’s interdisciplinary team will come together with you to decide upon a unified plan of action. Interdisciplinary collaboration among specialists helps provide thorough insight into the best methods of targeting and understanding your child’s symptoms. With a treatment plan in place, your child receives treatment tailored specifically for him or her.

The Center’s approach to the one-day evaluation makes it easier for families to get help. By alleviating the burden to schedule multiple evaluations with various specialists on different days, we can provide a thorough understanding of your child’s challenges in a fraction of the time. At CHC, we strongly believe that early intervention is the best way of protecting your child’s self-esteem and enthusiasm for learning and ensuring his future school success as academic subjects become more difficult.

Co-Occuring Challenges

CHC’s specialists work together to form one plan aimed at addressing your child’s challenges. Studies show that ADHD rarely exists in isolation. ADHD’s impact on a child’s classroom performance, in addition to clashes with peers and teachers, can have negative effects on a child’s self-esteem and behavior. In order to arrive at the best possible outcomes, CHC’s specialists pool their knowledge and determine what types of therapy will be most helpful.

We also are striving to create an array of services at CHC that meet the most common needs of youth and families confronting ADHD. We plan to provide more families in our community with the option of receiving help tailored to meet each child’s particular needs.

What challenges is your child encountering with ADHD? What types of help have worked? Share with us in the comments section below.

For more information about ADHD, you may want to attend the 24th Annual Conference on ADHD, organized by Children and Adults with Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) held on November 8-10 in San Francisco. Visit www.CHADD.org for more information.

To schedule a one-day evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Manager at 650.688.3625 or caremanager@chconline.org.