A recent study found that kids with ADHD would like to talk to their doctors directly about ADHD medication and ADHD symptoms, but don’t often ask the questions that are on their mind. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed 70 kids between the ages of 7-17 who were diagnosed with ADHD and were prescribed ADHD medication by their pediatricians or primary care providers. One-third of the kids said that they wished their doctor spent more time talking to them directly about their ADHD, and 57% percent reported that their doctor spent most of the appointment talking to their parents.
So, what do kids want to talk about with their doctor? What are the questions that are on their mind? The kids in this study were presented with a list of questions related to ADHD or ADHD medication and were asked to choose the questions that they would like to ask. On average, kids selected 8 questions. The number one question, chosen by 75% of the kids, was Will I outgrow my ADHD? Other top questions included: Do a lot of people have ADHD? Are there other things I can do at home to help my ADHD? Should I take my ADHD medication every day?
The results from this study suggest that opportunities are being missed that would otherwise allow kids with ADHD to feel heard and to participate in their treatment from an early age. ADHD is a chronic disorder, and one that requires a high level of parent involvement throughout childhood and adolescence. However, parent involvement doesn’t need to be at the exclusion of child participation in appointments, treatment planning, and day-to-day management. In fact, gradually encouraging your child to take a more active role in managing his or her ADHD can be empowering.
If your child is accustomed to sitting in the background while the adults in the room discuss ADHD, then it will probably take some encouragement on your part to get him or her involved in his or her own care. The following tips will help you prepare your child to talk to his or her doctor at the next appointment.
By creating opportunities for your child to actively participate in their ADHD treatment you are providing an opportunity for your child to learn skills that will serve him or her well for a lifetime. The more empowered and the more involved he or she is in his or her treatment, the more your child will feel in charge of his or her ADHD.
For additional study information: Betsy Sleath et al. (2017). Youth Views on Communication about ADHD and Medication Adherence. Community Mental Health Journal, 53: 438-444.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
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