Your ADHD Offensive Line
Five People to Recruit in Your Child’s Fight Against Attention Deficits
The bad news is that your child’s teachers suspect he has ADHD. The good news is that you’re not alone in tackling it! We’ve assembled a starting line-up of specialists on the ADHD front. Enlist their help to address the challenges of ADHD for your child and your family:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapist
What they do: Help set up behavior modification programs. Establish goals, rewards, and consequences for behavior at home and at school. They can be a liaison between family and teachers. Helps the student understand their thoughts and feelings and how they impact behavior.
Advantages: Often provided at no or low cost through family’s insurance. Can help families and teachers work together to maintain consistency in approaches being used for the student.
Disadvantages: Does not address the root cause of the ADHD. Not always covered by insurance. Can require a significant time commitment.
What they do: Can help evaluate and adjust the student’s diet to eliminate those things which may be exacerbating the ADHD, such as food dyes, caffeine, and other additives. Offer advice on other health-related factors that may be contributing to symptoms, such as low blood sugar, dehydration, and food allergies.
Advantages: Often covered by insurance with a referral from a doctor. Can offer advice on meal planning and budget-friendly foods.
Disadvantages: Does not necessarily address the root cause of weak attention skills, but rather nutritional contributions to hyperactivity and low energy.
What they do: Conduct physical exams, noting family history, on-site behavior and parental concerns/observations on symptoms and behavior at school and home. He/she may also be able to help rule out vision problems (or provide a referral to a specialist). Many doctors have extensive knowledge on ADHD and will be able to discuss factors like sleep, exercise, and multiple treatment options.
Advantages: Can diagnose ADHD. Works with insurance companies. Able to prescribe medication.
Disadvantages: Some pediatricians are quick to prescribe stimulant medication, which can have side effects and does not address the root cause of ADHD.
- Educational specialist
What they do: Work with teachers to create accommodations at school. Inform families about assistive technology. Help create and teach techniques to the student for school success.
Advantages: Familiar with ADHD and helpful accommodations at school. Can recommend ideas to parents seeking to continue accommodations at home.
Disadvantages: Accommodations may “enable” the ADHD by working around the child’s needs rather than addressing the root cause.
- Personal brain trainer
What they do: Assess the student’s cognitive skills then create a brain training program to fit. (A cognitive skills assessment can pinpoint weak skills, which studies show are responsible for a majority of learning struggles.) Using one trainer per student, brain training targets any weak cognitive skills (which, in children and teens with ADHD, are often the skills of divided, selective, and sustained attention).
Advantages: One-on-one brain training is a form of cognitive skills training that incorporates immediate feedback, intensity, and loading, among other features, to target the weak skills frequently associated with ADHD and other learning struggles. Effective brain training customizes programs based on the results of an initial cognitive skills assessment and uses exercises founded on years of clinical and scientific research.
Disadvantages: Not always covered by insurance. Requires a time commitment from the child and family.
If you’re ready to build your team to help your child or teen navigate the challenges of ADHD, start with the key players above. They’ll help you create a game plan that will be right for you and your family.