The pediatrician prescribed ADHD medication for my child. Why does my child need a comprehensive evaluation?
A comprehensive clinical assessment is necessary to diagnose ADHD. Since a variety of other disorders can look like ADHD, including anxiety, learning disorders, conduct problems, depression, and even past traumatic experiences, this assessment should include a detailed developmental, medical, educational, and social background history; clinical interview; and observation. Approximately 20% to 30% of children with ADHD have coexistent learning disabilities in the area of reading, spelling, or math, so it is imperative that intellectual ability and achievement are assessed to rule out a possible learning disorder.
I got my child tested, now what?
You should meet with the examiner to discuss the results of the evaluation and receive a detailed evaluation report which includes results, impressions, and recommendations. If your child has ADHD and attends public school, she will be eligible for a 504 plan (e.g. modification plan, designed and implemented in the regular classroom), but approval cannot be based solely on a single source of data (i.e. a doctor’s diagnosis or grades). It will be important to share the results of the evaluation with your child’s school and request a conference with appropriate school personnel. A plan should be developed which includes appropriate accommodations, evidence-based interventions, and/or related services that are also scientifically or research-based. A good comprehensive evaluation report will have these listed in the recommendations.
So why isn’t medication enough?
Medication alone will not address all of the issues associated with ADHD. These can include problems at school, self-esteem or anger management issues; co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression; learning difficulties; and peer and family relationships. Research shows that a comprehensive treatment approach for children and adolescents with ADHD ensures the greatest opportunities for success. Best practice includes cognitive behavioral therapy, along with medication maintenance.
The ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center offers parents and educators on-staff experts for developmental, psychological, and psycho-educational evaluations. To learn more about how to schedule a comprehensive evaluation for your child, contact an ACCESS Admissions Specialist at (501) 217-8600.