Getting Help for Children with ADD / ADHD
If you think your child may have ADD / ADHD, it's important to have clinical personnel evaluate your child's condition, because other neurological and psychological conditions can look like ADD / ADHD or exist along with ADD / ADHD. Once your child is diagnosed, you can connect with professionals who provide therapy, support, and practical assistance, working with children to help them understand their feelings and cope with the realities of having ADD / ADHD.
Diagnosing ADD / ADHD in children
If you suspect that your child has ADD / ADHD, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a diagnostic assessment. At present, no laboratory or imaging test exists to determine if your child has ADD / ADHD. Clinicians base their diagnosis on the behavioral symptoms they observe and by and ruling out other disorders.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that an evaluation for childhood ADD / ADHD include:
- A thorough medical and family history.
- A general physical and neurological exam.
- A comprehensive interview with the parents, the child, and the child's teacher(s).
- Standardized screening tools for ADD / ADHD.
- Observation of the child.
- A variety of psychological tests to measure IQ and social and emotional adjustment.
What is required for a diagnosis of ADD / ADHD?
To be diagnosed with ADD / ADHD, your child must exhibit multiple symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. In addition, the symptoms of ADD / ADHD must:
- Severity – The symptoms must be more frequent or severe than in other children the same age.
- Early onset – Some of the symptoms must have been present before age 7.
- Duration – The symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months.
- Impact – The symptoms must have a negative impact on the individual's school, family and/or social life.
- Settings – The symptoms must be present in multiple settings, such as home, social settings, and school.
Choosing a specialist to evaluate your child
When choosing a specialist, it's a good idea to get recommendations from other doctors, therapists, and parents. Talk to former patients and clients, if possible, and find out what their experience was. It's also important to find out what's covered by insurance. Will your health insurance cover part or all of your child's ADD / ADHD evaluation?
- the professional certification and academic degrees of the specialist,
- the procedural code (CPT code) and diagnostic code (ICD code) that the specialist will use to bill for the evaluation,
- how comprehensive the evaluation is, and
- how much the specialist will charge.
Then talk with your health insurance provider about what your plan covers for evaluation for ADHD. Some insurance policies cover evaluation for ADHD from one kind of specialist, but not from another.
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