We often hear, “How do I prepare my child for an ADHD evaluation?”
The decision to get your child evaluated for ADHD can be overwhelming! You have probably sifted through advice from well-meaning friends and family. Maybe you asked friends for a referral or found the evaluation center through your insurance company.
Side note: If you are looking into scheduling an evaluation and want to understand the different medical/private evaluations you can get for ADHD, check out this blog post for detailed information.
Once you have scheduled the evaluation, you probably breathed a huge sigh of relief! Trust us, scheduling that evaluation is a wonderful first step toward supporting your child!
Of course, you may have questions about what to expect and what to bring to an evaluation. Each evaluator will be slightly different, but we do these evaluations all the time and can give you general guidelines.
Let’s talk about some of the most common questions we hear from parents when they ask us, “How do I prepare my child for an ADHD evaluation?”
Should I medicate my child on the day of the evaluation?
If this is a diagnostic evaluation (where the doctor evaluates whether your child has ADHD), we almost always recommend that the child NOT be medicated. The evaluator wants to see what your child looks like without medication to get an accurate baseline of their behavior.
Now let’s say your child already has an ADHD diagnosis, and you feel confident about it. However, now, maybe you suspect your child might have a learning disability or other diagnosis. If the evaluator is looking at your child’s academic or cognitive skills, we typically recommend that your child take their medication as they would for school. You can clarify this with the person doing the assessment, just in case.
What should I bring to the evaluation?
Typically, we recommend sending any previous evaluation reports or school documents before the actual day of the evaluation. That way, your evaluator has time to review all of the documents. This can be helpful when they plan the testing. Also, bring water and snacks if your child is hungry or thirsty. You can also bring your child’s favorite toys or games to play during breaks in testing. If your child wears glasses or contacts, make sure they have those with them.
Another thing we usually recommend is that you bring headphones and an iPad or device. This is because there may be times when you need to talk with the evaluator, and you don’t want your child to listen. There is a chance you won’t need them, but it’s helpful to have them just in case.
What should I say to prepare my child for an ADHD evaluation?
Children tend to pick up on how their parents are feeling. This is why we recommend parents stay calm and optimistic about the appointment. We typically tell the child that we will play games, look at books, and talk with them. We often tell kids that we are trying to learn how their brain learns the best. That way, we know how to help their parents and teachers learn the best ways to teach them.
It is appropriate to ask the evaluator what they will tell your child, as each office will say slightly different things. Also, could you ask the evaluator how long the appointment or appointments will be? That way, your child knows what to expect.
What other questions do you have?
What else are you wondering about how to prepare your child for an ADHD evaluation? Let us know in the comments – we would love to hear from you!
And if your child has a diagnosis (or suspected diagnosis!) of ADHD, we have a parenting course designed to support you. Check out Creating Calm to learn tools to help raise a happy + independent child with ADHD.
Have a beautiful week!
Katie, Lori, and Mallory