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Managing a Diagnosis of ADHD

It's difficult for a parent to know whether a child's daydreaming or overexcitement is normal behavior or a warning sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The survey team at Consumer Reports Health recently polled 934 parents who shared one thing in common: their child had been diagnosed with ADHD.

CRH's survey provides a parent's-eye view of the symptoms they noticed, the diagnostic process they went through, and the advice they'd give other parents. Only 35 percent of parents had a clear plan of action from their doctors for managing the condition. More than half of the parents said they lacked a clearer understanding of their child's strengths and weaknesses. And, one in five parents reported consulting three professionals, many of whom did not seem to follow well-established guidelines for diagnosing ADHD; for example, input from the teacher and other school personnel was not always obtained.

An estimated 7 percent of children ages 3 to 17 are effected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, estimates also suggest less than half of children who meet the criteria actually receive a diagnosis of ADHD.

Consumer Reports Health advises parents to get a clear care plan and follow-up arrangement for their child. CRH's new online report, available for free at, identifies key milestones in the process and helps parents understand:

• The symptoms and time frame that may suggest ADHD.

• Who to see for evaluation and what to expect at the doctor's office.

• What to watch for to make sure your child is diagnosed properly.

• Other disorders that may occur in children with ADHD.

• Insights about what to expect from parents who've been there.

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