Primary Sources of ADHD Help
Getting ADHD treatment in the primary care setting
If you think you or your child has ADHD, you should first contact your doctor’s office. Your health care provider can help you decide what to do next. Here are some questions you may be asked when you call. Your answers will help them decide if you or your child needs an ADHD evaluation. If you have the answers ready, you can get help sooner.
- What makes you think you or your child has ADHD?
If your child’s teacher has mentioned ADHD or attention problems, you need to know what the teacher has noticed. The teacher may have said that your child:
- Can’t sit still
- Doesn’t seem to pay attention
- Forgets instructions
- Doesn’t follow rules
You may have noticed that your child doesn’t remember what you have said, or doesn’t stop to think before making a decision. You may have noticed some of these behaviors in yourself. These are the kinds of behaviors your doctor will want to know.
- How long have these problems been happening?
The doctor asks these questions to make sure the problems are not temporary. Knowing when trouble started can help your doctor or nurse understand what may be causing difficulty.
- Did any major change happen to you, your child or family?
Sometimes even positive events like winning an award can stay on a person’s mind. This can cause distraction or forgetfulness. Family crisis, such as a divorce or loss of a loved one, can have the same result. A person who is worried or very sad can have trouble behaving and learning. Problems often improve when family events are discussed.
- What have you already tried? If your child is having trouble learning in school, the pediatrician may ask about educational testing. This is because learning problems can cause poor behavior and lack of attention.
Once your doctor has the answers to these and some other questions, you or your child may be scheduled for an office visit. Unless there has been a recent physical exam, you or your child will be checked for other medical conditions. Some doctors will then suggest an evaluation for ADHD. Others will refer you to a specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Either way, you will have the advice of the person who knows you or your child best.
1. Committee on Quality Improvement, Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (2000). Diagnosis and evaluation of the child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 105, 1158-1170.