Does my child have ADHD?

The ADHD Center for Evaluation & Treatment (ACET) program will answer your question.

ADHD is difficult to diagnose. In some cases, what appears to be ADHD may actually signal another problem.

To ensure that your child receives an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, our staff conducts interviews with you, your child and sometimes his or her teachers, performs direct observations in the clinic and uses psychological rating scales. Once collected, the data is analyzed and the results are summarized for you. Through this evaluation, we can determine if ADHD symptoms are present, if other disorders accompany it, or if other disorders may be the source of your child's symptoms. Based on this careful, complete evaluation, we will then recommend comprehensive treatment tailored to your child's needs.

Our staff focuses on your child's strengths and assets, what works for them, and emphasizes and builds on the skills that your child already has. We will provide a treatment program that integrates cooperation between home and school. Parents will receive coaching regarding the management of the child in both home and school settings and how the child handles himself or herself.

Our collaborative approach to care combines the knowledge of pediatric health care professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatric and child psychiatry residents, social workers and nursing staff. Your child will have access to the professionals at Cleveland Clinic Children's where high-quality expertise and innovative technology help meet the special needs of children and their families.

Could it be something else?

In some cases, what appears to be ADHD may actually signal another problem such as depression or anxiety. Before proper treatment can begin, pinpointing the real difficulty is important.

The ACET program was developed to

  • Find out if the symptoms of ADHD are there
  • Rule out other possible causes of the symptoms
  • Discover if there are any other conditions or concerns to treat

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, we will outline an appropriate treatment program using a variety of treatment methods, such as a combination of medication, individual counseling and parent coaching. If the diagnosis is not ADHD, we will refer you to qualified professionals for other focused evaluation and treatment.

The element of uncertainty of your child's condition can largely be eliminated, and your child can receive needed and appropriate treatment.

Will my child outgrow it?

No. Children do not outgrow ADHD. If left untreated, their problems can be compounded over time. Symptoms can impair a child's behavior in social and academic situations, which will eventually affect his or her self-esteem. Treatment that is tailored to address the severity of the condition can alleviate the symptoms and help a child learn to cope with the disorder.

Is medication the only answer?

Medication may be an option, but it is not the only one.

Treatment of ADHD depends on the child and the severity of the problem. In all cases, it involves a combination treatment approach designed to address the child's individual needs. This treatment may include interventions in the classroom and at home, individual and family therapy, parent coaching, behavior management techniques (such as the Summer Treatment Program), strategies for the child's teachers, and medication.

If medication is an option, our staff will work with you and your child's pediatrician to monitor your child's response and to find the optimal dosage level. We use a systematic, scientific approach to fine-tune the dosage to ensure both the safety and effectiveness of treatment.

What can I do?

If you think your child may have ADHD, begin by talking to your child's teacher, pediatrician or family practitioner. If the problem is not long-standing and has only developed over the past six months, you may learn that the condition is due to something other than ADHD.

However, if these core behaviors (inattentiveness, distractibility, impulsiveness, excessive activity) are persistent and occur in many different settings and situations, or if the behavior is causing significant social and/or academic problems, your child may have ADHD.

If this sounds like your child, contact the ADHD Center for Evaluation and Treatment at Cleveland Clinic Children's at 216.445.7574. We work with children, parents and teachers to assess the condition and recommend appropriate strategies for treatment.

Remember, ADHD doesn't have to impair your child's social and academic life. There isn't anything wrong with your child or your parenting skills. By pinpointing the condition, you and your child are on the way to managing this behavior.

Resources

Additional valuable resources for families: