DEFINITION: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — also referred to ADD or ADHD — is a biological ‘brain-based’ condition that is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. Although there appears to be a strong genetic basis, the exact cause of ADD is unknown. Researchers are investigating many different genes, particularly ones involved with the brain chemical dopamine. People with ADHD seem to have lower levels of dopamine in the brain.
SYMPTOMS: The most prevalent symptoms of ADHD are inattention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. Difficulties with concentration, mental focus, and inhibition of impulses and behaviors are chronic and pervasive and impair an individual’s daily functioning across various settings — home, school or work, and in relationships. Symptoms may continue into adolescence and adulthood. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to poor school/work performance, poor social relationships and a general feeling of low self esteem.
PREVALANCE: It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of preschool and school age children have ADHD or approximately two million children in the United States. This means in a class of 25 to 30 students, it is likely that at least one student will have this common condition.
EVALUATION AT PEDI-CARE: Your child’s evaluation for possible ADD/ADHD starts with consulting one of our physicians. Our initial assessment will include a current history, physical exam, discussion of concerns, clinical interview, and review of problematic behaviors as documented on the Vanderbilt parent and teacher questionnaires. We may also recommend additional psychological and educational testing.
VANDERBILT RATING SCALES: The Vanderbilt Rating Scale is a reliable and inexpensive way to gather information about a child. This questionnaire lets parents or primary caregivers and teachers evaluate the child, aged 6-12 years old, in the home or school environment. Observing your child where he/she is most comfortable can contribute to a more accurate diagnosis.
The Vanderbilt Scale it has 55 items which will evaluate your child for ADHD as well as other conditions. The questionnaire gathers information about group interaction, organization habits, as well as general health. The questions are rated on a scale of 0-3, 0 being never and 3 being very often.
TREATMENT AND FOLLOW-UP: Each child’s treatment for ADD is unique and may or may not involve medications. No treatment will be initiated without a thorough assessment and a family discussion.
Our patients are followed closely by regularly scheduled office visits and telephone encounters throughout the evaluation and initiation of treatment process. Once a plan has been instituted, then progress is monitored by bi-annual follow-up teacher and parent rating scales. Often, treatment adjustments or an office re-consultation is needed. We may also refer your child to a mental health specialist and will then coordinate your child’s care as a team.
APPOINTMENTS: Please call to request an initial doctor telephone intake encounter. This telephone interview will help determine the needs of your child and the appropriate next step. We can then guide you regarding the length of the appointment as well as records that may be helpful to submit prior to your child’s visit.