Frequently Asked Questions about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

What causes Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not caused by poor parenting or inadequate teaching. The condition is most often manifested in early childhood or school-age years, and, by definition, must have its onset before the age of 12 (even though it may not be recognized until adolescence or adulthood). Research strongly suggests that the disorder is genetic in origin, but there are also environmental causes.

What are the different treatment types?
Treatment can include some or all of the following: small group training, parent management training, parent-child interaction therapy, school consultations, and medication management if needed.
What are the medication options for ADHD?
There are many Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication options, including both stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants are by far the most frequently used. They are among the most effective medications in psychiatry. There are multiple stimulant classes, and numerous formulations within each, so it is possible to find the most effective and most palatable medication for the individual patient. Stimulants are approved for use in preschool children through adulthood, and are used to treat individuals across the lifespan. Non-stimulants can also be used, and can be quite effective for the right person. On average, stimulants are more effective, but for selected individuals non-stimulants may be the better option. In addition, non-stimulants are FDA-approved for use together with stimulants. In many cases, this is the optimal approach.
Are they safe?
Medication treatments for ADHD are generally quite safe when taken under the proper medical supervision. However, like all medications, there are potential side effects to be aware of and managed. The stimulants are controlled substances, while the non-stimulants are not. Regardless, it is important that these medications be taken as prescribed, and in consultation with a physician who has the requisite expertise and experience in monitoring their use.
How do I know when to seek help?
If you or your child are not able to function the way that you should be across a range of activities including but not restricted to school and work. We are particularly worried when it affects kids’ self-esteem and their ability to interact in a constructive way with other kids.
What do I bring to prepare for my first appointment?
You should bring a list of symptoms you’ve noticed, medications you’re taking, and any previous evaluations.