ADHD Treatment Planning & Coordination
After children have been diagnosed with ADHD, the next question parents typically ask is “Now what? What do we do to help our child?”
Like many things, treating your child’s ADHD is not a one-step decision. Many parents ask about medication, what the school can do, if the child can outgrow or learn strategies to help, and if parents can do things to help. All of these approaches are appropriate components of a treatment plan for ADHD. Successful treatment of ADHD tends to be multi-faceted. Research suggests that combined treatment that includes stimulant medication and behavioural therapy is an appropriate first step in the treatment of ADHD. However, each child and each family is different and therefore, the treatment plan needs to be individualized.
Creating a Treatment Plan
Step One – What do you want to target?
The first step in creating a treatment plan for your child’s ADHD is to make a short list of some of the areas that are a struggle for your child. And which of those issues are the ones you’d like to target for change? If you are having a hard time, complete the “Smart But Scattered” questionnaire that is appropriate for your child’s age:
Make 2-3 specific areas you would like to target with your treatment plan.
Step Two – How? Selecting An Approach
When we talk to parents about the treatment options for ADHD, we talk about the options being like a train – there are lots of railcars on the train and they can be organized in different ways. Parents can decide which railcars (treatment options) they would like to try first and organize those ones at the beginning of the train, whereas other railcars (treatment options) may be closer to the end of the train. All different treatment options are part of the train. Some parents choose medication as one of the first treatment options on their “train” because research says that it can make a significant and quick impact on the child’s ability to focus and manage impulsivity. Other parents are more comfortable with trying other treatment approaches first, knowing that medication may be an option to consider later. When making a decision about what treatment approaches to consider, I always encourage parents to find out more about the different approaches and what the research says about their effectiveness so that parents can make an informed decision.
What treatment approach would you like to focus on first?
- Environmental Supports at school
- Individualized Program Plan at School
- Parenting Strategies
- Behavioural Therapy with the Child
- Improving Sleep
- Including More Physical Activity/Sensory Strategies
- Other …
*This is not an exhaustive list -parents and medical practitioners may suggest other additional treatment options for consideration.
Step Three – SMART Goals
Once parents have decided what they would like to address and the approach they would like to use, the next step is getting clear on the specifics of the goals and how progress will be measured. For this part, the acronym of SMART goals is recommended: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Realistic in Time.
For example, “Johnny will increase his level of independence by checking off each step of his morning checklist 4/5 days per week. He will achieve this goal by December 31, 2016”
This may be a realistic and attainable goal if Johnny is already capable of completing the tasks on the list, but tends to forget or if Johnny is already doing the list 2/5 days per week. Having the goal be specific and measurable makes it clear as to whether Johnny has achieved the goal and the degree of progress being made. This is really important because sometimes parents and the child can become discouraged and feel like no progress has been made when in reality, there has been progress that has not been noticed.
Step Four – Evaluate Progress
A few other thoughts with treatment planning…
Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to manage treatment planning on their own. This is when it can be helpful to get support from a psychologist or other health professional with coordination of the treatment plan. At RMPS, this is something that we offer for our clients. It can also be helpful for parents to meet with other parents on a regular basis to get support and new ideas for managing or improving their child’s treatment plan.
This is something that is offered the last Thursday of the month at RMPS or Call Us 403-245-5981 or 403-245-4137.