Follow-Up Care for Kids and Teens with ADHD
Managing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doesn’t end with a medication and treatment plan. Although your child or teen with ADHD may be thriving at home, in school, and with friends, he or she needs ongoing care to live well with the condition.
If your child is among the nearly one in twelve American kids with ADHD, read on for four tips about the importance of follow-up care for you both:
1. Keep up with medication follow-ups: When medication for ADHD is first prescribed for your child, you will be asked to stay in contact with your child’s doctor and return to follow-up appointments so that the best type of medication, dose, and schedule can be set up.
Good to know: Talk with the doctor about the best follow-up schedule for your child. Medication is usually started at a low dose and increased gradually. During the first month, you may need weekly visits or phone calls with the doctor to discuss your child’s responses to the medication. By the fourth week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends returning for an in-person appointment so the doctor can review and check how your child is doing and look for any side effects. He or she may need monthly visits until a good routine is in place, then every three months for the first year. After that, you may only need to visit twice a year or less to review your child’s progress toward goals and make medication adjustments as needed.
2. Take the lead in tracking your child’s progress: Treatment plans for ADHD often involve medications plus behavior therapy and everyday support strategies from parents, teachers, and other caregivers. The aim: helping a child or teen reach important and realistic goals―such as calmer relationships with family members, better study habits, or more independence.
Good to know: Parents can track their child’s progress with daily report cards, rating sheets, or charts. Ask teachers to track school goals and stay in touch with you, too. Your doctor may provide rating sheets or you can find your own.
3. Be patient and flexible: Helping your child reach important goals will take time. Most kids respond well, but sometimes a treatment plan needs adjustments. Keeping track of progress is the best way to tell if tweaks are needed.
Good to know: If your child isn’t attaining the goals in his or her plan, discuss the reasons why―and what to do next—with the doctor or care coordinator. Your child may need easier, more-achievable targets, different strategies, and/or help with other health conditions.
4. Track your own progress, too. It’s healthy and important to ask for help for yourself when you need it. Getting the proper support, information, and training can help you be more effective in caring for your child with ADHD.
Good to know: Keep tabs on your own stress, frustration, and concerns. Consider joining a support group, attending a parent training program, seeking counseling, or learning stress-management techniques.