Starting a productive conversation with caregivers, parents, and individuals about an ADHD diagnosis is the key to timely and effective treatment. Educators and clinicians have an opportunity to shape a family’s introduction to and experience of the diagnostic process and response to information about ADHD.
When you connect with patients and families, you can support them as they learn to manage their condition and lead fulfilling lives. These tips help start the conversation in the right way.
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Offer Consistent and Culturally Sensitive Support
Researchers have documented parents’ and caregivers’ struggles at home when their child has ADHD. The additional stress and anxiety can lead to damaged relationships and a sense of a “war at home.” A trauma-sensitive approach to communicating the results of an (ADHDT-2) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Test, Second Edition leads to better treatment implementation and long-term consistency.
As with any therapeutic conversation, a calm and respectful tone encourages dialogue between all parties. From there, give parents several choices for communication methods, such as phone, text, or email, so they have agency in the process. Other best practices for communication and long-term support include:
- Asking family members to share their perspectives on their child’s behavior and their roles
- Inviting and responding to honest feedback from families and students
- Encouraging shared decision-making for families, students, and clinicians
- Providing all information in the family’s native language
- Offering access to information through a variety of media: Patient portals, lists of relevant websites, app suggestions, and print brochures
Create Opportunities for Questions and Discussion
You are a crucial primary source for navigating the plethora of assessment analysis and care management information for most families you see. According to a study that evaluated the needs of families responding to a diagnosis of ADHD, parents described a need for more information about:
- How ADHD is defined and diagnosed
- The causes of ADHD
- Pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options for treatment
- Methods for anger management
- Effective ways to discipline unwanted behavior and reward positive behavior
- Resources for managing depression, anxiety, and stress for all parties
- Dealing with physical and mental exhaustion for caregivers
- Financial resources for treatment costs
Highlight Action Steps and Positive Outcomes
A diagnosis of ADHD triggers a range of emotions, from relief at finally having an answer to sadness and fear about the future. Emphasizing the positive characteristics of these individuals can create a source of encouragement and support. For instance, researchers have noted increased creativity, resilience, courage, and inventiveness in children diagnosed with ADHD. Similarly, college students and adults diagnosed using the (CAARS) Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales often demonstrate high levels of cooperativeness and compassion.
You can also offer parents and individuals actionable steps to take in managing AD at home and at school by:
- Offering opportunities for training in behavior management, stress-relief techniques, and educational accommodations
- Supplying a list of resources for connecting with other families in their situation, either in-person or online
- Providing referrals to qualified local ADHD specialists
- Scheduling follow-up assessments and meetings
Caregivers will feel more supported if they can contact you directly after your conference. Be sure to provide them with multiple means of contact for questions.
WPS is proud to partner with you in your work with parents, caregivers, and people with ADHD. Learn more about how to help kids in school using the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Test, Second Edition, to start an honest, supportive conversation with families.