Talking with Your Child's Doctor

Learn the best ways to advocate for your child and work with her doctor to find the best treatment approaches to help manage her ADHD.

Nervous young girl about to get a shot from her doctor as her mother comforts her.

By now you're probably aware that your child's ADHD can't be cured. But with your help, it can be effectively managed. One of the most important things you can do is to work closely with her doctor and teachers to steer her toward a treatment approach that best helps her grow and mature and achieve success in school and in personal relationships. Treatment for childhood ADHD may involve medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two.

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else, so the feedback you can give your doctor about how your child is doing is incredibly valuable -- as is your ability to advocate for her to get the appropriate support and treatment she needs. For these reasons, continual communication and regular checkups with your child's doctor are essential. Your ongoing goal is to make sure your child is getting the most appropriate and effective help, so she can grow and thrive in all areas of life, despite challenges she may encounter because of ADHD.

Regular checkups will help you and your child's doctor evaluate how well treatment is managing and minimizing your child's ADHD symptoms. If medication is prescribed, it's possible your child may need to try a few different kinds before finding one that is effective and produces minimal side effects. As children with ADHD grow up, their treatment needs can change. Sticking to the regular checkup routine will help ensure that your child's treatment will continue to be tailored to her potentially changing needs.

Establish a Relationship Between Doctor and Teacher

You might consider yourself the absolute expert on your child, but her teacher also has unique insight into how well your child is doing on a daily basis -- academically and socially -- and how much ADHD is affecting her progress. Opening up the lines of communication between your child's teacher and her doctor can add another valuable layer of information, which will help better inform the doctor's treatment recommendations for your child. (Check out this article for specific tips on helping your child succeed in grade school with ADHD.)

Getting the Most from Appointments

Your primary role at your child's checkups is to convey as much as possible about how she's doing, including any changes you've noticed in her behavior, whether positive or negative. You should also be prepared to give a status report on your child's school performance, if your child's teacher has not already done so.

The more you can tell your doctor about how your child is doing and how her treatment seems to be working, the more effectively your doctor can adjust treatment to best manage your child's symptoms. And don't rely on only your memory. Be sure to take notes on your child's overall daily behavior. Also jot down any questions you have for the doctor, so you remember to ask them at your next appointment. Checkups tend to be brief, and it can be hard to process all the info you doctor is quickly conveying without important details escaping. Taking another family member along to have a second set of ears can be helpful. You may also be able to record your discussion with the doctor; just be sure to first ask if it's okay.

Other Important Things to Mention

Let the doctor know about any other changes in your child's health or her life, like new friends or activities, that could be affecting her behavior. Whenever changes to your child's medication regimen are recommended or new medications are prescribed, make sure you ask about any potential new side effects.

Help for Parents

Parent-training programs are available and are designed to help you adjust your parenting approach to better suit your child's special needs. These courses can help you feel more knowledgeable and empowered and, ultimately, more in control of a challenging situation.

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