Only certain professionals get the required training or exposure to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and it is only to these professionals that parents must seek help in diagnosing the child. These professionals include child psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental or behavioral pediatricians or behavioral neurologists.
A further criterion that could be helpful in choosing the best professional would be the relative familiarity of the doctor with the family. Thus, a family doctor or the child’s personal pediatrician is preferable over others. This is because assessment of the child’s behavior is better made by one who has more opportunities to observe the child and one whom the family knows and trusts. It is important to know this because the different qualifications of these professionals make some of them better equipped to meet a patient’s specific needs.
For example, child psychologists are good options because they are knowledgeable in therapy, making them very adept at developing ways to deal with the disorder. However, they are not medical doctors and hence, they cannot perform medical examinations nor prescribe appropriate medication. Thus, where the aim of the parents is the diagnosis and treatment of the child through medication, a psychiatrist may be a better option. Neurologists are also an option since they can diagnose and prescribe medication for ADHD, although they cannot provide therapy for the emotional aspects of ADHD.
Whichever type of professional the family finally chooses, all of them would basically follow the same process in ascertaining whether the child has ADHD or not. The first step is information gathering. This process involves the identification of the behavioral patterns of the child which will allow the professional to rule out other possibilities underlying the said patterns. In doing so, the professional might want to place the child in different settings in order to see how he reacts to them. It would also be possible for the professional to ask people to whom the child has been regularly exposed, like parents, friends, family and teachers, so as to be able to get relevant information. All these sources will enable the professional to make a profile of the child, making diagnosis easier. After diagnosis, treatment will follow, which could involve therapy or medication, depending on the type of ADHD the child has or what treatment is best suited for his profile.