Diagnosing ADHD

Question: My second-grade daughter has very poor concentration. Even the teacher made a comment on her last report card in June of this year. Does that mean that she has ADHD? — Wondering

Answer: When children have trouble concentrating in school and are overly active, disruptive and inattentive, many teachers and parents jump to the conclusion that a child has ADHD. However, to find the answer to your question you need to start with a routine visit to your daughter’s primary care doctor. Tell the doctor about the teacher’s observation of your daughter. You might even want to bring the child’s report card along to the appointment. Ask the doctor to test her for ADHD. Some doctors will do the evaluation. However, others will give you a referral to an ADHD expert because testing for ADHD takes several hours and also a large amount of time to analyze the test.

If your doctor does not give you a referral and you still want testing, you should seek out a referral from the special education teacher, a psychologist or guidance counselor at your child’s school.

Here are the areas that will be used in helping to make the diagnosis of your daughter:

–Social history: a typical day in your daughter’s life.

–Medical history: any medical concerns that your daughter might have.

–Family history: ADHD runs in families.

–Strengths and weaknesses: activities your daughter can and can’t focus on

–Education: how your daughter is doing academically.

By the time the clinical interview is over, most experts who diagnose and treat people with ADHD will have a good idea of whether your daughter has ADHD.

Summer Arts Activity 8: This week you should spend your arts time introducing your children to the theater. They need to know what a great variety of theatrical productions exist, from serious dramas to lighthearted comedies. Fortunately, most communities will offer some amateur productions. And for young children, there are often performances that are especially appealing to their age group, such as fairy tales. Do try to see a local theatrical production this week. Both community groups and colleges are likely to have them. If there aren’t any available, it should be possible to see a play on television or online.

You never know, but your children could have a career in theater. Again, most communities will have all-children productions, which could expose them not only to being actors, but also to behind-the-curtain jobs: playwrights, directors, scenery, clothing designers and props people.

Of course, all children should do some reading every day. For several days family members can focus on reading plays out loud. Individual members may have to read more than one role. Younger children will enjoy reading and even performing plays from Zoom Playhouse (pbskids.org/zoom/activities/playhouse). Older children can read with other family members over the course of several days well-known plays typically performed in high school productions such as “Our Town,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A more challenging activity would be the reading of a Shakespearean play.

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