October 2021

Follow-Up Care for Kids and Teens with ADHD

Managing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doesn’t end with a medicine and treatment plan. Although your child or teen with ADHD may be thriving at home, in school, and with friends, they need ongoing care to live well with the condition.

If your child is among the 1 in 12 American kids with ADHD, read on for tips about the importance of follow-up care for you both.

Keep up with medicine follow-ups

When medicine for ADHD is first prescribed, you will be asked to stay in close contact with the healthcare provider and return for follow-up appointments to find the best medicine, dose, and schedule for your child.

Good to know: Talk with the healthcare provider about how often you need to come in for medical checkups. Medicine is usually started at a low dose and increased gradually. During the first few weeks, you may need weekly visits or phone calls with the provider to discuss your child’s responses to the medicine. One month after starting treatment, it’s recommended to return for an in-person appointment so that the provider can check how your child is doing. They may need monthly visits until a good routine is in place, then every 3 months for the first year. After that, you may only need to visit 2 or 3 times per year to review your child’s progress.

Take the lead in tracking your child’s progress

Treatment plans for ADHD often involve medicine plus behavior therapy and everyday support strategies from parents, teachers, and other caregivers. The aim: helping a child or teen reach important and realistic goals―such as calmer relationships with family members, better study habits, or more independence.

Good to know: Parents can track their child’s progress with behavior report cards, rating sheets, or charts. Ask teachers to track school goals and stay in touch with you, too. Your child’s healthcare provider may provide rating sheets, or you can find your own, such as this one sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Be patient and flexible

Helping your child reach important goals will take time. Most kids respond well, but sometimes a treatment plan needs adjustments. Keeping track of progress is the best way to tell if tweaks are needed.

Good to know: If your child isn’t attaining the goals in their plan, discuss the reasons why―and what to do next—with the provider or care coordinator. Your child may need easier, more-achievable targets, different strategies, and/or help with other health conditions.

Track your own progress, too

It’s healthy and important to ask for assistance when you need it. Getting the proper support, information, and training can help you be more effective in caring for your child with ADHD.

Good to know: Keep tabs on your own stress, frustration, and concerns. Consider joining a support group, attending a parent training program, seeking counseling, or learning stress-management techniques.