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Advice for parents: Do you think your child may have ADHD?

If you believe your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, “the most important thing is not to wait,” said scientist Stephen Faraone, PhD.

Faraone, a professor in Upstate‘s departments of psychiatry and neurosciences and physiology, has authored more than 700 journal articles, editorials, chapters and books having to do with the nature and causes of mental disorders in childhood.

He said most pediatricians are well trained in diagnosing and treating that you delay treatment is a year that your ADHD written outADHD. Parents should explain to the pediatrician why they have concerns. The doctor may say that the child has a normal level of exuberance.

“If they tell you the child has ADHD, don‘t delay treatment,” Faraone said. “Every year that you delay treatment is a year that your child is exposed to many risks -- the risks of having difficult friendships, not socializing properly, of failing in school, not doing as well as they might. (By delaying treatment,) your child‘s self esteem goes down, and their problems get worse.”

Many of the ADHD medications have been used safely since the 1960s. Faraone says few alternatives have been shown to be effective. One exception is an omega 3 fatty acid known as eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA, which may be modestly helpful for children with ADHD. Still, it is only about half as effective as medications, he says.

Monitoring how well your child‘s treatment is going is also important. The pediatrician may change the prescription before finding the medication that is most effective. The child may also need interventions at school. And, parents may benefit from behavioral family therapy.

Faraone is reassuring: “They will do well if they‘re treated and you monitor them. Most people with ADHD are able to live productive and happy lives.”

Hear an interview at www.upstate.edu/healthlinkonair by searching "ADHD."

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.