Pediatric Neurologists & ADHD

Function

Pediatric neurologists deal with any disorder that affects the nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. ADHD affects the brain, causing problems with attention span and hyperactivity. To find a pediatric neurologist, ask your pediatrician for a referral or call your local hospital to inquire about any pediatric neurologists who may be on staff.

Diagnoses

Pediatric neurologists can diagnose several types of ADHD. ADHD may classified as predominantly hyperactive or impulsive, predominantly inattentive or a combination of the two. Pediatric neurologists can determine if another neurological disorder--such as epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, spasticity, brain injuries, cerebral palsy or autism--coexists along with ADHD. Neurological testing may include electro-encephalograms (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans.

Treatment

Pediatric neurologists may prescribe medications to help reduce symptoms of ADHD. They most commonly prescribe stimulants, but antidepressants may also be prescribed. ADHD symptoms may improve over time, but often symptoms persist into adulthood. Some children with ADHD may require referrals to other specialists for additional treatments. Pediatric neurologists often refer children with ADHD for psychological and behavioral treatments.

Considerations

According to ADDitude magazine, pediatric neurologists often diagnose and then treat ADHD. Pediatric neurologists may be able to offer the most accurate diagnosis of ADHD and to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. In many cases, children with ADHD will need to be seen by more than one specialist to address all of their needs effectively. Parents should be aware that visits with a pediatric neurologist or other specialists are typically more costly than visits with a pediatrician or family doctor.

Misconceptions

Often parents assume that once a child takes ADHD medication, he will be instantly cured. However, medicine is just one facet of ADHD treatment. A pediatric neurologist may recommend family counseling and therapy in addition to medications. Also, medication dosages may have to adjusted often and medications may have to changed when severe side effects occur. Some children may experience adverse reactions to ADHD medication such as insufficient appetite, hallucinations and chronic insomnia.