Choosing the Best ADHD Specialist
Finding an experienced ADHD specialist is critical when parents see the signs of ADHD or suspect their child might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, selecting a medical professional who is trained in this field is never as simple as it looks. Parents are immediately bombarded with a flood of questions they don't know how to answer.
For example, do you take your child to an doctor, or a psychologist? Can one ADHD doctor perform both diagnosis and treatment, or do you need different professionals for those tasks? This article will explain the different types of specialists skilled in interpreting ADHD child symptoms so that you can correctly select the right professional to perform your child's evaluation.
Should the ADHD Doctor be a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or a Pediatrician?
The testing for this disorder can be performed by any professional trained in diagnosing mental disorders, although one who has experience in diagnosing ADHD is always a plus. Child psychiatrists and psychologists, pediatricians or family doctors, behavioral neurologists, and clinical social workers are all qualified to perform ADHD testing and diagnosis.
However, not all of these specialists provide counseling or training, or can prescribe medication. The family doctor or pediatrician is a good place to start, but as they are usually not ADHD specialists themselves, they usually refer the child to a mental health professional they know and trust for the actual ADHD testing if they think it is needed.
The difference between a child psychologist and a child psychiatrist is important to understand. Child psychologists are doctors trained to diagnose mental and behavioral disorders, and can provide therapy and counseling. They are not medical doctors, however, and so must rely on the family's pediatrician to perform medical exams and prescribe medications.
A child psychiatrist is not only trained on the signs of ADHD and can perform ADHD testing and diagnosis and provide therapy and counseling, but can also prescribe medication. Parents who prefer the simplicity of having one go-to person for their child's ADHD testing and treatment should seek out a child psychiatrist.
Other options for ADHD or ADD professionals include neurologists and clinical social workers. Neurologists, medical doctors who specialize in biochemical brain disorders, can perform ADHD testing and diagnosis, and can prescribe ADHD medications. They usually do not, however, provide therapy and counseling.
A clinical social worker is not an ADHD doctor but, much like a child psychologist, is able to diagnose ADHD and provide counseling and therapy, but is not qualified to prescribe medication.
Specialists Who Take a Natural Approach to ADHD
Parents can look into ADHD specialists to consult if they want to try alternative treatments before jumping straight to the expensive and unpredictable route of psycho-stimulant medication. Children with ADD or ADHD, especially if only suffering from mild cases, can have the symptoms eased by a simple homeopathic treatment program.
Strategies like regulating the child's sleep schedule and amount of cardiovascular exercise can help, as can a healthy diet. For example, changing the child's diet to one that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates (like sugar) can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Parents considering this treatment might want to consult a nutritionist.
Many parents find that a first step that has provided great benefit is to use herbal products formulated specifically to reduce the hyperactivity and increase the ability to focus before looking for a ADHD doctor. All-natural herbs such as ginseng, ginkgo, or melatonin can help readjust an ADHD child's body chemistry to achieve the natural biological balance and harmony it naturally lacks.
Parents wanting to pursue this course of treatment would want to find a professional herbalist, homeopath, or naturopath. You can learn more on our ADHD natural treatment page.
We hope this article has helped clear up the muddy distinctions between the different types of ADHD specialist available. Hopefully, you will now be able to more confidently choose the right professional to perform your child's ADHD testing.