Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that the information below refers to children with ADHD (including ADD)

Diagnosis – who do I go to and what do they do?

Educational Psychologist

Difficulties in one area often spill over into other areas and could affect behaviour, learning abilities and emotional condition. For example, situations such as death, divorce, illness, stress, learning difficulties, being bullied, lifestyle, can affect children’s ability to cope in many areas of their life. As a result they may be misdiagnosed as having ADHD

Educational psychologists are able to identify learning difficulties and/or other factors that may be affecting children, and help them work through the challenge. Psychologists are able to build children’s social and emotional skills so that they are able to cope better in many areas – whether the child has ADHD or not. They do not prescribe medication.

Depending upon children’s needs psychologists may refer them to a medical doctor and/or indicate other therapies could be helpful.

Medical Doctors

If there is a diagnosis of ADHD medication may be prescribed. Be sure to approach one who specialises in ADHD.

Paediatricians, psychiatrists and neurologists

Teachers are becoming increasingly educated about medication and most commonly refer children to a paediatrician.
Paediatricians, psychiatrists and neurologists are all medical doctors who treat ADHD however they may do so from different points of view. Paediatricians may have greater insight into the development of the child while psychiatrists study the functioning of the brain. Neurologists use an EEG which also helps rule out other conditions such as petit mal epilepsy.

ADHD is the abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Symptoms include

  • inability to pay attention
  • impulsiveness
  • distractibility
  • hyperactivity (some children with ADHD may be overactive, but others with ADHD may not be. They are often referred to as having ADD)

Over-activity often accompanies ADHD but this does not mean that every active child has ADHD. An active child who is able to control his impulses and copes well at school, at home and in other areas of his life is unlikely to have ADHD.


Yelling, shouting and beating only make the child more stressed which in turn makes the symptoms of ADHD far worse … and he is even more likely to lose things. At this stage probably the best thing that you can do is to make sure that his name is on everything!

Children who lose things are usually disorganised both internally (in the head) and externally (their room, suitcase, books etc). You can best assist him by helping him to develop better organising skills – an important part of this is an organised home with reasonable routine.

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A good education is important but it should never be at the expense of your child’s confidence or self esteem. Ideally children should have a good education, while at the same time improving their confidence and self esteem.

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Try to see your child’s world through his/her eyes. Find out more about the challenges they face every day. Be determined to find the solutions. With your increasing understanding, you can become your child’s greatest advocate and support.

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Yes!! As parents you can do a tremendous amount to lessen the impact of ADHD.

The following are important:

  • Learn about ADHD so that you can understand your child’s challenges.
  • Give them time for unstructured play (not TV/computer games/playstations).
  • Adequate exercise – running jumping, climbing, swimming.
  • Reduce stress – let home be the haven. Accept your child. Let him/her know that they are wanted and loved.
  • Healthy eating habits – avoid synthetic colourants, synthetic flavourants etc.
  • For further information see my book “Hyperactivity and ADD – caring and coping”. Published by Wits University Press.

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Other therapists - what do they do?

Whereas optometrists check how well the eye sees, vision therapists check to see how well the child’s brain interprets what the eyes see. If help is needed, exercises (physical and/or computer) or glasses may be recommended.

Occupational therapists may assist with improving coordination, low muscle tone, handwriting, overall physical function. Some occupational therapists have done further study and are able to assist children with inappropriate sensory modulation – they reduce over-reaction to touch, taste, smell, visual and hearing.

There is sometimes an overlap between the work of occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Remedial therapists detect and help children overcome specific learning difficulties.

Books to help you

  • Hyperactivity and ADHD – caring and coping 3rd edition (Wits University Press)
  • Teaching and ADHD in the Southern African Classroom (MacMillan)

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