Part of the initial interview involves asking a new patient about how they got their ADHD diagnosis (if they were already given one), what treatments they took, and its effects (or lack thereof). This gives me a better idea of what new treatments to try. Their experiences have also helped me determine a few "warning signs" that suggest that it's time to see a new doctor, therapist, or health care specialist for ADHD. Here are some of them.
Advocates only one treatment
If the doctor says that the only way to treat ADHD is with drugs, or if the only educational material he gives you are drug company brochures or pharmaceutical pamphlets, consider seeking help somewhere else. Additionally, walk out of the office if the doctor says that behavioral training, a team approach, or a holistic approach is not necessary for your child's recovery. Also be wary of doctors who push only one treatment without exploring other options.
This is when a doctor only talks to you and ignores the child - the actual patient. A doctor cannot help a child recover from a neurologic condition without knowing what goes on in that child's head, and the only way to find out is to let the child speak.
Does not believe in ADHD
Your child won't get the help he or she needs from a doctor, therapist, or counselor who says that his ADHD symptoms are just "growing pains" or indicators of poor discipline, stubbornness, or laziness.
The diagnosis is made too quickly
Be wary of doctors who do not bother to find the causes of your child's symptoms, especially when starting a new treatment or drug. A nutritional deficiency, sensory integration disorder, and anxiety are just some of the many health conditions that mimic ADHD, and many of them cannot be treated with medication. For this reason, diagnosing ADHD is a complicated process that should involve several steps and tests; only by uncovering the roots of the symptoms can a treatment yield desired results.
Does not listen to input from others
Consider seeking a different doctor if he or she downplays the input and observations from teachers, other family members, friends, or siblings.
Does not paint a realistic picture of your child's condition
We want to give our patients hope and assure them that everything is going to be fine, but a good doctor should also provide you with a realistic picture of your child's condition and treatment. ADHD is not a disorder that will magically go away; it is a lifelong condition that your child must learn to manage for the rest of his or her life. When treating ADHD, there are no guarantees that everything will get better once a treatment kicks in; new situations and certain conditions may cause symptoms to flare up unexpectedly. Additionally, a child's treatment plan should encourage him or her to take a proactive role, if you hope for long-term results.
Dr. Yannick Pauli is an expert on natural approaches to ADHD and the author of the popular self-help home-program The Unritalin Solution. He is Director of the Centre Neurofit in Lausanne, Switzerland and has a passion taking care of children with ADHD. Click on the link for more great information about what is adhd.