Many children struggle with sitting still, or paying attention in school. Some 5% to 10% of school-aged children are affected by ADHD. When it interferes with their success at school, they need help. Many pediatricians refer all such children to psychologists or psychiatrists. At La Mesa Pediatrics, we feel comfortable evaluating and treating most children with attention problems.
Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, impulsivity, and easy distractibility. Some children have predominantly inattentive symptoms, others predominantly hyperactive symptoms.
Careful history and physical examination generally includes input from teachers as well as parents. A management plan may include referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist, but often includes a medication.
There are both stimulant and non-stimulant medications. For many children, medication plus behavior modification can be life-changing.
It is important to note that some children with ADHD may have other coexisting conditions. It is important to consider learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, language disorders, oppositional defiant disorders, and mood disorders when seeing children with behavior concerns. Sometimes referral to a mental health professional is appropriate.
Children who are started on medication for their ADHD are followed regularly in the office, at least every 6 months. Because there are potential side effects to the medication, height and weight and blood pressure are monitored. Some children have decreased appetite on the medication, at least initially.
Fortunately, many children with ADHD may outgrow their need for medication as they mature. They may still have problems, but they learn coping skills.