If you have a child struggling with ADHD, seeking the services of an ADHD psychiatrist can be beneficial. We can provide a clear, documented diagnosis and help find options to reduce symptoms and make life easier for your child. As a parent, however, you also have the opportunity to advocate for your child through the school system, and the following information may be of help.
What Is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that can affect children and adults in many ways. People with ADHD can experience a wide range of symptoms including difficulty with attention, focus and organization. Hyperactivity and impulsivity and moodiness also are among the symptoms.
ADHD often presents more obviously in boys than in girls, but that doesn’t mean that girls don’t need just as much support. If your child is struggling in school with focus or completing homework or perhaps they seem forgetful, anxious or constantly daydreaming, ADHD could be the cause.
The best step that parents can take is to have their child evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Be sure to find a psychiatrist or psychologist that focuses on providing a thorough diagnosis that gives you a clear picture of all of the issues your child might be facing. It is very common for a person with ADHD also to have a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety, depression, OCD or Autism Spectrum Disorder and we must uncover all of these issues to provide the best possible support.
Is ADHD a Disability?
We often think about disabilities as something physical or perhaps we think of a student with an intellectual disability such as Down’s Syndrome. However, neurological disorders also are disabilities.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines an individual with a disability as a “person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” These activities would include attending school, and, as anyone with ADHD can attest, school can be tough when you have ADHD.
Children with disabilities are entitled, by law, to have an education equal to that of their peers. To ensure that level of equality, accommodations may be needed and the school site will need to create a plan to facilitate a learning environment that supports a child with ADHD or with any type of disability.
As a parent, you are well within your rights to contact the school and ask to meet with the teacher and administrators to talk about what types of plans can be put into place for your child. This can be easier to do once you have a diagnosis in writing either from a psychiatrist or psychologist, but you definitely don't have to wait in order to seek support from your school.
IEP Vs. 504 Plans Vs. SSTs
The educational system throws plenty of acronyms and abbreviations at parents, and you may hear a teacher or special education provider talk about terms such as an IEP, an SST or a 504 plan. Let’s take a look at each of these plans and how they can benefit a student with ADHD.
Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) – These are binding legal documents that create a plan for a child struggling with one or more disabilities. The IEP might include special education instruction, outside support services and classroom accommodations that are deemed necessary to ensure student success.
With an IEP, parents also can request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). If the school approves the request, the district will pay to have an outside expert evaluate the student. Keep in mind, the district might not agree to your request for an IEE. If you still want an IEE, this will mean you must pay for it out of pocket.
Additionally, the IEP can only be used to help students that fit within one of the 13 disability categories listed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is an act that requires all public schools to provide special education services to any student that is eligible. The 13 categories include:
504 Plans – These are known as 504 Plans because they are derived from section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This act prohibits any organization that receives federal money from discriminating against people with disabilities. Because ADHD is considered a learning disability, this means that students diagnosed with ADHD are protected under section 504. As with an IEP, a 504 Plan is a binding legal document.
504 plans provide specific accommodations for students with ADHD, such as allowing a student to have extra time to complete an exam or assignment. For older students, this also might entail being allowed to record a classroom lecture. For younger students, this might include allowing them to take a break and walk around or perhaps placing them in a seat that helps to limit distractions. Every student's needs and accommodations are unique, so teachers and administrators need to be flexible to create plans that meet the needs of a specific student.
The main differences between the 504 Plan and an IEP are that the 504 includes a broader range of disabilities, but you cannot request the IEE. A 504 Plan also doesn’t typically include special education services and instead focuses on creating goals and classroom accommodations to help a student.
Student Study Team (SST) – This is often the first step you will take as a parent toward acquiring support for your child. Sometimes a teacher will suggest the formation of an SST, but parents also can request it. This team typically consists of the child’s parents and teacher and at least one other school staff member. This could be a special education teacher, a student’s former teacher, the school principal or the school counselor.
During a Student Study Team meeting, the team will address issues and create some goals and perhaps identify some accommodations or support that could be helpful to a student. SSTs aren’t as binding as a 504 plan or IEP, but they can be an excellent first step to take while you are setting up therapy and meeting with an ADHD psychiatrist. In some cases, a child with mild ADHD might only need a few minor accommodations and an SST might be all that is warranted.
ADHD Medication: Is This A Good Option?
Parents are often hesitant about having their children use medication for ADHD, and as a pediatric psychiatrist, I understand the hesitation, but as a medical professional, I also feel that medication can be very beneficial for some patients.
The most common medications used to treat ADHD include methylphenidate (brand names Ritalin and Concerta) and dextroamphetamine with amphetamine (Adderall). Another stimulant medication is lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse),
These are in a class of drugs known as stimulants, and they help to boost the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. These are brain chemicals that help us focus and pay attention to tasks.
Because these drugs are stimulants and because some people (without ADHD) abuse them recreationally, they have a dubious reputation. However, both of these medications have a long history of use to treat ADHD and other disorders and the majority of children taking these drugs, or about 80%, report a significant reduction of ADHD symptoms when using these medications.
Ritalin was developed in the 1940s and has been used for more than 50 years to treat symptoms of ADHD. Concerta, which is essentially an extended-release type of Ritalin, was approved for use more than 20 years ago. Adderall has been used for nearly 30 years, and Vyvanse, is essentially the extended-release version of Adderall. Unlike some medications, a few of these ADHD medications can be taken as needed, such as just on school days.
While these medications can be effective, there are a few side effects that some children experience. One of the most significant side effects is a reduced appetite, so parents must pay close attention to their child’s eating habits to ensure they are continuing to get proper nutrition. In some cases, these drugs can upset sleep schedules and cycles, and we can adjust the dosage or adjust the type of drug to help with this issue. It is also important to note that if your child has another condition, such as bipolar disorder, some ADHD drugs aren’t going to be an appropriate treatment option.
Non-stimulant drugs for ADHD include atomoxetine, which is in a class of drugs known as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Guanfacine is yet another option, in a class of drugs known as centrally-acting alpha2A-adrenergic receptor agonists. This drug is meant to affect the portions of the brain responsible for attention and impulsivity.
Therapy Is Crucial
Your ADHD psychiatrist can prescribe medication and will provide you with information about all of these drugs and recommend options that seem to be the best fit for your child. However, we usually also recommend some behavioral therapy. Medications prescribed by a child psychiatrist can help with focus, but patients experience the highest level of success with a combination of therapy and medication. These therapies teach essential coping mechanisms and strategies to help a patient deal with their ADHD long-term.
Adult With ADHD? Contact Me Today
While I don't offer services as a pediatric psychiatrist or child psychiatrist, I can help young adults and older adults struggling with ADHD, including providing a diagnosis that covers all of the issues you may be facing. I can meet with patients in person and offer telepsychiatry services if you prefer to meet with an online psychiatrist or live too far from my offices in Thousand Oaks.
As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I meet, in person, with patients throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County. However, if you need to find a psychiatrist, you don’t necessarily have to opt for that “psychiatrist near me.” Telepsychiatry can be another option to consider.
What Is Telepsychiatry?
With telepsychiatry, you simply meet using your phone, tablet or computer using a secure connection. A virtual psychiatrist will have the same training as an in-person psychiatrist. Both types of psychiatrists are medical doctors as well as mental health professionals, which means they can prescribe medications as well as diagnose many mental health conditions and create a treatment plan.
Advantages Of Telepsychiatry
These days, more and more medical visits are being handled either by phone or video visits. This, of course, became more common during the pandemic, but it’s likely to continue for several reasons, including:
1. Convenience & Flexibility
With telepsychiatry, you can meet with your doctor in the comfort of your own home or anywhere you have an internet connection. Even if you are on vacation or away for business or another reason, you can still receive quality care from your psychiatrist.
2. Easier Access To Care
For patients with disabilities or mobility issues, telepsychiatry can be a much easier option than in-person visits. There’s no need to arrange transportation or deal with the typical hassles of finding parking spaces, navigating through medical buildings, etc.
Additionally, for patients with anxiety, being able to receive care at home can reduce the stress related to driving in traffic. For patients with depression that might have a tough time getting out of the house to receive care, meeting with an online psychiatrist can be a great option to consider.
4. Reduced Costs
Let’s face it, these days, gasoline prices are exorbitant and if you can avoid driving back and forth from the psychiatrist’s office, you can save a decent amount of money. Likewise, telepsychiatry may eliminate the need to pay for childcare expenses. However, it can be wise to have someone watch your children during a session so that you can focus entirely on the doctor's visit. Still, without having to drive, you can reduce child-care expenses, which is always a positive.
5. Save Time
Our time is precious, and spending it driving to and from appointments can be difficult. You could save an hour or more of your time by simply meeting with your psychiatrist virtually. Additionally, wait times are reduced, as well, because no one is ever late to an appointment due to traffic or other issues. Telepsychiatry can streamline the entire doctor visit process, saving both you and your psychiatrist some much-needed time.
6. Reduce The Stigma
Too often people avoid getting mental health care because they are ashamed of asking for help or ashamed of their condition. Let’s be clear – mental illness is not a weakness, it’s simply a medical condition that usually can be treated. Still, I know that many people are reluctant to seek help or feel as though asking for psychiatric services makes them “weak.”
While this isn’t true at all, that’s the stigma and while we are beginning to break through that stigma, it is still there for some patients. Being able to meet in the privacy of your home can feel like an easier, safer option. You won’t risk being seen by friends or co-workers leaving the doctor’s office, etc. If this level of privacy pushes you toward seeking help, then by all means, opt for telepsychiatry and telepsychology services. We can help you reduce your symptoms and live a happier, healthier life.
Advantages of Using A Psychiatrist “Near Me”
Of course, not everyone prefers to meet online with their psychiatrist or therapist, and that’s perfectly fine. I am always happy to meet in person with my patients, and some people truly need that one-on-one, face-to-face connection rather than a video visit.
In some cases, such as with severe disorders such as schizophrenia, it can be better to meet in person as these individuals can be at higher risk of self-harm and suicide. Of course, there are certain types of therapy, such as EMDR and ketamine treatments that must be handled in person.
We also can opt for a hybrid approach, where we meet in person initially and eventually move toward virtual visits once a treatment plan is in place. With my practice, I try to be as flexible as possible to meet the needs of a diverse group of patients. Every person is unique, so it’s important to curate a situation that is best for the individual.
How To Find A Psychiatrist
With virtual psychiatry, you can move beyond your immediate locality and search for professionals that seem to be a good match for your personality and your mental health needs. In some cases, you might need to find doctors that fit within your insurance plan, but, if possible, it can be good to extend your search to private practices as well, to find a good fit for your unique needs.
I recommend looking at everything from the doctor’s philosophy to searching for reviews and asking for recommendations from other physicians that you trust. Additionally, you will want to select a psychiatrist who specializes in helping patients with your specific mental health issues.
In my practice, I offer services as a bipolar disorder psychiatrist, an ADHD psychiatrist, and a psychiatrist for anxiety and depression. Additionally, I can help treat patients with substance use disorders as well as treat people with co-occurring disorders, which is extremely common.
My goal is to spend time truly getting to know a patient and understanding their issues and symptoms. This helps me create a thorough diagnosis that addresses all of the issues a patient is facing. As both a medical doctor and mental health professional, I can assess whether or not any physical conditions are impacting your mental health and I can help with medication management.
Of course, it is also important to seek the services of a psychologist or therapist. These professionals cannot prescribe medications, but they do provide talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other types of therapy that can improve your life significantly. Medication can be extremely helpful, but we achieve the best, long-term results with an approach that also includes therapy.
Call Dr. Jesalva Today
Whether you want to find a psychiatrist “near me” or you would like to try telepsychiatry, I am always here to help. Don’t suffer another day with mental health conditions. Treatment can be effective, and you deserve to live a happier, healthier life. It might take us some time to achieve these goals, but we will get there together.
There’s nothing harder for a parent to witness than their child struggling, and if you need a psychiatrist for a child suffering from mental health issues, it can feel overwhelming to select the best professionals to fit your child’s needs. Here are a few tips to help you select a child psychiatrist and what to look for when selecting a doctor or therapist.
Child Psychiatrists Vs. Psychologists
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that can provide mental health care services, which includes prescribing medications to treat issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD and much more. A psychologist is also a mental health professional, but not a medical doctor, so they are unable to prescribe any medications.
In most cases, the best option for any patient is to use a combination of a psychiatrist and a psychologist or therapist. Psychiatrists can provide a diagnosis and medication, as well as study the overall physical condition of the patient. In some cases, there could be physical issues causing mental health issues or perhaps exacerbating these issues.
Psychiatrists do not, generally, provide any type of therapy, which is why it’s best to also find a therapist or psychologist. Talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other types of therapy can yield huge benefits for any patient, providing an emotional outlet as well as helpful tools to help one cope with any mental health issues.
How To Find A Psychiatrist For Child Mental Health Issues
Whether you are searching for a psychiatrist or psychologist, the process is typically the same. For either of these professionals, you will want to look at their credentials. For instance, with a psychiatrist, you will want to look for someone who is board-certified in child and adolescent psychiatry.
You also will want to find a doctor or therapist that specializes in your child’s mental health issues. Of course, at the early stages of diagnosis, you might be uncertain as to your child’s exact issues. In general, most child and adolescent psychiatrists can diagnose a wide range of issues including ADHD, OCD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and more, including autism spectrum disorder and developmental disorders.
Many people will be diagnosed with multiple mental health issues, such as ADHD and anxiety or perhaps depression and anxiety. Co-occurring disorders are very common, so you need to find professionals that are experienced in helping individuals with all of the issues your child is facing.
When researching a doctor or therapist, read a bit about their philosophy and approach to treatment to see if it aligns with your parenting style and your family values. You also can ask for referrals from your child’s medical doctor or perhaps your school’s counselor.
Doctor reviews also can be a helpful tool, but, keep in mind, that negative reviews often come from patients that had unrealistic expectations about the outcome of their treatment. With any treatment option, there is no magic overnight cure.
Medication can be helpful, but it takes time for medications to work and to find the best dosage for an individual patient’s needs. Talk therapy and other types of therapy also take some time to work, as well, and some of the negative reviews you encounter are the result of a patient expecting a very quick resolution for their mental health issues.
For your convenience, I also recommend either finding a psychiatrist and therapist that are either close to your home or your child’s school, if possible. We lead busy lives and having a doctor conveniently close by is helpful. If you cannot find a good match locally, I recommend opting for a virtual psychiatrist.
Telepsychiatry can be a great option to consider for several reasons. It allows you to find the best possible doctor-patient match for your child. Virtual psychiatry also can be handled securely in the privacy of your home, which might feel more comfortable and less stressful for your child.
A virtual psychiatrist or therapist can be reached at any time from anywhere you have an internet connection, which provides you with the highest level of convenience. If your child feels under the weather or you are out of town, you can still meet with your mental health professionals. You also avoid having to drive and deal with traffic, etc., which can save you time and reduce your stress.
How To Help Your Child
Of all the “jobs” in the world, is there a tougher one than being a parent? While parenthood brings numerous joys, it also can be extremely stressful. While finding the best child psychiatrist and therapist for your child can make a huge difference in your family, it’s also important for parents to consider their own emotional and physical needs.
Many parents will blame themselves for their child’s mental health issues, but it’s important to understand that mental illness is not a weakness. It’s simply a medical condition that can be treated. As parents, providing encouragement and support to your child, and seeking support for yourself if needed, can make a huge difference in the quality of life for your entire family.
Parents often can benefit from therapy themselves, and there also might be classes to help one learn strategies to help their child experience as much success as possible. Whether you have a child struggling with ADHD or depression or anxiety or perhaps a combination of issues, it can be a good idea for you to learn all that you can about these issues and how best to help your child.
With any condition, whether it be physical or mental, learning all you can about what your child is facing is important. This can help you understand symptoms and better understand treatment options and possible outcomes. It’s important to help your child stick with their treatment plan and to have realistic expectations.
With a solid treatment plan, you should see much improvement, but there are always challenges and setbacks. These can be discouraging, but with patience and time, your child is sure to make great strides and live a happier, more successful life.
Contact Me At Anytime
If you’ve been searching for a child psychiatrist or teen psychiatrist, I specialize in providing treatment for many mental health issues. I can provide in-person or virtual psychiatry services. Whether you need an ADHD psychiatrist or a psychiatrist for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or another mental health condition, I can provide a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan that helps your child live their best life.
Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.