These days, it’s common to know someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. A friend’s child. Your child’s classmate. A family member. Even an adult coworker.
More than 17 million people in the U.S. are currently living with ADHD. A person with ADHD has unique issues with their brain activity which makes paying attention or focusing more challenging. Sometimes it can lead to impulsive actions, sleep issues, anxiety, and learning/developmental disorders.
While there is no cure for ADHD, there are treatment options available to successfully manage symptoms and improve your child or teenager’s functionality in his or her daily life.
ADHD is one of the most common conditions our pediatric neurologists diagnose and treat here at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.
What are the most effective ways to treat ADHD in children and teenagers?
Medication. There are two types of ADHD medications, stimulant, and non-stimulant. Stimulants are more commonly prescribed yet, have had some controversy over the years. However, advances in the way the drugs are delivered in the body have vastly improved making them safer than in previous years, says Dr. Dilip Kanik, a board-certified pediatric neurologist at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.
He says sometimes when he prescribes medications he encounters reluctance from parents and for good reason. “I get it. Who would like to put a child on medication? But the earlier you can treat a child, the better the long-term outcome,” said Dr. Karnik.
He warns parents, too, that medication is not a quick fix. “Medication is absolutely not a magic bullet.”
Behavioral Therapy. Working with a licensed behavioral therapist can help children learn how to redirect their actions when they become distracted, veer off task, or have the urge to act impulsively. For some children with milder forms of ADHD, behavioral therapy will be the first line of treatment.
Customized tactics: Nutrition, School, Anxiety
Many parents of kids with ADHD also praise the benefits of dietary eliminations and/or supplements to help manage symptoms. Things like sugar, food dyes, and gluten may be triggers for some children, while Omega-3 Fatty Acids to boost brain power and probiotics to flush out harmful gut bacteria may also prove to be helpful.
The research is unclear as to whether ADHD symptoms can be managed through diet changes, however, if you find that your child’s symptoms fare better with certain restrictions or supplements then, by all means, continue on that course.
Dr. Karnik also recommends working with the school on certain accommodations to create an optimal learning environment. And don’t ignore other underlying issues.
“Many children may also suffer from anxiety which must be considered in the treatment plan,” said Dr. Karnik.
He says when it comes to ADHD each child is unique. What works for some children may not be as effective for others. Use your intuition, speak to your child’s teachers and caregivers to observe positive and negative changes. Most importantly, says Dr. Karnik, “Trust your instincts.”
If you suspect your child or teenager may be suffering from ADHD, or you have questions about their current treatment plan, please contact Child Neurology Consultants of Austin for an appointment with one of our specialists.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological disorders in children from 0 to 21 years old and offers three convenient clinic locations to best serve you in Austin, South Austin, and Cedar Park.