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Featured Doc Blog: How to Help a Child with ADHD Adjust to a New School Year

Dr. Joanna Ghegan in our Mount Pleasant, SC office recently contributed to an article in Lowcountry Parent Magazine.  This article describes 5 ways you can make sure your child has a great start to a better school year. Parents of children with ADHD understand the difficulties that come along with new routines (or getting back in a routine!), new teachers, and more advanced coursework.  You can find the original article here, or read below.

“For parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), facing those first few months of a new school year can be a challenge. Routines have changed, teachers are different and academic struggles may be more pronounced as coursework becomes more advanced.

But helping your children get comfortable in a new school year doesn’t have to feel like an uphill battle. Here are 5 ways to help your child with ADHD have better school year.

1. Confirm the ADHD diagnosis.

Usually a pediatrician or family doctor makes a diagnosis based on subjective questionnaires from parents and teachers, and that information may be conflicting.

“While those questionnaires are very important and part of the diagnostic process, it’s not enough information,” says Dr. Joanna Ghegan, a physician with Focus-MD in Mount Pleasant . In fact, that’s part of the reason she switched from a general pediatric practice to Focus-MD, which uses a FDA-cleared objective test to improve accuracy in ADHD diagnosis.

This computerized test objectively measures activity, attention and impulse control and compares each patient’s results with other kids of the same age and gender. “Including an objective measure of the patients symptoms helps prevent over-diagnosis of ADHD, which is a real comfort to parents,” according to Dr. Ghegan.

2. Adjust medications as needed.

Like all medications, ADHD medications can have side effects, but these can be avoided almost entirely by working closely with your child’s doctor to find the optimal medication and dose.

Teacher and parent input is critical and it’s important to listen to children and teens about their experiences with medication, both positive and negative, to get to the right balance.

“Having our objective testing to assess the effect of medication helps prevent over-medication and allows us to find the optimal dose more quickly that waiting for grades or subjective assessments”, says Ghegan. At Focus-MD physicians follow patients closely to monitor improvement in symptoms, academic and social progress and minimize side effects.

3. Go to bed early.

Many parents don’t always realize just how much sleep children need. While adults need 8 hours of sleep, children – especially ages 4 to 7 – require 11 or 12 hours of sleep.

With earlier school start times, after-school activities and both parents working, many children are sleep deprived. A child with ADHD will benefit greatly from getting enough rest since sleep is proven to help with attention, focus and hyperactivity.

4. Cut down on screen time.

We could all probably benefit from less time spent in front of the TV or computer, but this is especially true for children with ADHD. Remove televisions and computers from your child’s bedroom to eliminate distractions during both sleep time and study time.

5. Stay organized.

For children struggling to stay focused, getting organized will help greatly. Have the child keep an assignment book for school, makes lists and use a calendar. This not only helps the child stay on track but will cut down on stress at home.

Gheghan also stresses the importance a good diet and exercise, which releases endorphins that aid in concentration and focus.

“It’s not just about handing out medicine,” she says. “We take a holistic approach to the patient and talk about lifestyle as well.”

Focus-MD is a medical practice in Mount Pleasant for children with ADHD and related problems. At Focus-MD, ADHD is treated like a medical problem, not a psychological one. Their team of qualified and experienced medical doctors is committed to providing the high-quality, individualized care.

Call (843) 593-9332 for additional information or to schedule an appointment.”