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First Steps Towards Evaluation

If you have begun to think that your child’s poor progress at school, limited friendships, or frequent discipline problems add up to more than the typical difficulties of childhood, schedule an appointment with his teacher or school counselor as soon as possible. These people see your child daily in a group setting, where they can compare his behavior and ability to function to that of many other children his age.

In many cases, teachers and counselors are trained to recognize symptoms of ADHD and similar disorders (although it is best not to assume that this is so). Certainly, they can give you a clearer idea of your child’s experience at school, where ADHD so often manifests itself and creates problems.

In many situations, it is the teacher or counselor who first notices that a child is failing to progress in ways that may indicate ADHD or a related disorder. In these instances, it is important for the teacher to contact the child’s parents without delay to discuss the issue. Although teachers may identify more than 15% of their students as showing many of the behaviors compatible with ADHD and recommend those students for an evaluation by their pediatrician, a much smaller number of these students will actually be diagnosed with ADHD after a careful evaluation.

Regardless of whether your child will end up being diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to follow up on teachers’ concerns. The sooner a child with ADHD symptoms can be evaluated, diagnosed, and effectively treated, the greater his chances of progressing through school with good self-esteem and without losing too much ground.

If you and your child’s teacher or other caregiver agree that your child is clearly having problems functioning in the areas of difficult-to-manage behaviors or learning at home or at school, make an appointment with his pediatrician to consider beginning an evaluation. Pediatricians are used to evaluating children for developmental or behavioral problems, and because ADHD is such a common problem, they often screen for it in school-aged children during routine health visits.

Questions Your Child’s Pediatrician May Ask You About School

  1. How is your child doing in school?
  2. Are there any problems with learning that you or the teachers have seen?
  3. Is your child happy in school?
  4. Are you concerned with any behavioral problems in school, at home, or when your child is playing with friends?
  5. Is your child having problems completing classroom work or homework?
Last Updated
ADHD: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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