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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) inhibits the ability to focus and control impulses. People with ADHD may also be overly active. Many call this condition attention deficit disorder, or ADD.

Common ADHD symptoms include the following:

  • Lots of daydreaming
  • Many instances of forgetting or losing things
  • Talking too much
  • Unnecessary or sloppy mistakes
  • Difficulty resisting temptation or holding back
  • Trouble with taking turns and getting along with others

ADHD: what you should know

If your child has trouble focusing and doesn’t always think twice before acting, it doesn’t mean he or she has ADHD; however, when your child’s behavior doesn’t change with age and it causes problems in school, home or with friends, there could be a problem.

There are three kinds of ADHD:

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: You have difficulty with organization or finishing tasks, paying attention to details or following instructions.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation: It’s hard for you to sit still, listen to others and wait for turns.
  • Combined presentation: You have symptoms of the other two types of ADHD.

While the causes of ADHD are unknown, there is plenty of ongoing research into its origins. Recent research indicates a genetic connection.

How can I get help if I suspect ADHD in my child or myself?

If you are concerned about your child, a good first step is to talk to your pediatrician. The diagnostic process will involve several steps that may include the following:

  • Hearing and vision tests to rule out other conditions
  • A checklist for rating ADHD symptoms
  • Obtaining a history from not only the patient but parents and teachers as well if applicable

If your pediatrician thinks it’s necessary, he or she may refer your child to a mental health professional for further testing.

Care for ADHD at Rush

In addition to pediatricians, many specialists at Rush address ADHD:

  • Child and adolescent psychiatrists
  • Psychologists and neuropsychologists
  • Developmental behavior specialists

They work with you to confirm diagnosis by using standards set forth in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5).

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will develop a treatment plan. At Rush, mental health professionals work closely with parents and teachers to implement this plan and monitor your child’s progress.

Typically, treatment will involve a combination of the following:

  • Medications: Not all medications work the same way in every child. Your doctor will work with you and your child to find an effective medication and dose.
  • Behavioral intervention: Behavioral therapy can help reduce problems for your child at home and at school. This may involve such strategies as creating routines and avoiding distractions.
  • Parent education and support: To alleviate ADHD symptoms, parents may have to re-think how they interact with their children and handle situations. That’s why it’s important that they have the right tools at their disposal.

For some children with ADHD, the Rush Day School may be suitable. It offers a therapeutic as well as educational setting for your child. The goal of the school is to eventually return children to a less restrictive school environment.

Why choose Rush for assessment and treatment of ADHD

  • Psychiatrists in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program at Rush can play a valuable role in the assessment and treatment of ADHD. U.S. News & World Report ranked the Department of Psychiatry at Rush as the only "high performing" psychiatry program in Illinois.  
  • The Toddler, Infant and Preschoolers Clinic at Rush serves children under age 6 with emotional, behavioral and developmental difficulties, including ADHD. At the clinic, you’ll find expertise in complicated psychiatric evaluations and medication management.
  • Rush’s Pediatric Psychology Program offers family-centered services for children and families affected with ADHD. This includes diagnostic testing, therapy and counseling for disciplinary problems.
  • The Rush Neurobehavioral Health Center has a team of clinical, education and research professionals who can help build on the strengths of children, teens and young adults with ADHD. The center offers assessment services as well as treatment.
  • The Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush offers a full range of psychological testing and evaluating services, including neuropsychological services on an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Departments and programs that treat this condition