Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, we are concerned with helping children who have behavior challenges using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the treatment. While most people think of ABA as a strategy for children with autism, we serve a variety of clientele, including children without disabilities. Thus, we are frequently contacted by parents who need help with their child’s behavior.
At times, parents will contact us because they think their child has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and they do not know what to do. Our first recommendation is to have the child properly assessed and diagnosed by a licensed professional. In our practice, we conduct behavioral observations and assessments, we do not diagnose children.
Parents may seek assistance for assessment in three different ways. First, parents may request an evaluation by school personnel. This full and initial evaluation is completed at no cost to the family. The assessment is completed by a licensed school psychologist or licensed psychologist with the assistance of other school personnel including a general education teacher, special education teacher, and possibly a speech and language pathologist.
The entire process could take up to 60 days from start to finish as the assessment includes observations of your child in his/her classroom, individualized assessment time, and parent and teacher interviews. For additional information about the initial evaluation process for children with ADHD, Wright’s Law is a great resource.
The second source for assessment comes from a licensed psychologist. Finding the right psychologist to assist you may take some time as you should check their background to ensure that they have extensive training and experience with this population. Speak to other parents who have utilized the person’s services. Interview the psychologist to make sure he/she is a good fit for you and your child.
Once you identify the psychologist, he or she will schedule several appointments with you and your child. Just like the process used by the school personnel, the psychologist will administer formal assessments with your child, observe your child in his/her classroom, and conduct interviews with you and the child’s teacher. The entire process could take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Receiving the written report and recommendations could take additional time depending on the detail provided by the psychologist.
The last resource for a diagnosis of ADHD comes from medical professionals. Some family physicians who have training and expertise in ADHD may be available to assist with a diagnosis. Psychiatrists may also be available. The primary difference between medical professionals and licensed psychologists is that psychologists have been trained specifically to administer assessments to evaluate your child formally. Medical professionals, on the other hand, have been trained to treat conditions using medications. If you choose to use a medical professional, take extra precaution to ensure that you select someone with specific training and experience in ADHD.
If you think your child has ADHD, we advise you to read and become informed about the condition as you will be your child’s best ally throughout the process.