This is an example guest post published to help mental health professionals get started on writing for the web, and is not an advertisement of services.  As the host of the website, I do not provide any of the services listed in this article.



 All About ADHD


Does my child have ADHD?

We get this question a lot, and it is an important one to ask.

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, is a diagnosis used to describe a particular pattern of symptoms.  Here are a few of the hallmark characteristics of ADHD:

  • Difficulty sitting still or being quiet when appropriate
  • Agitation or high energy
  • Frequent fidgeting, bouncing, rocking
  • Poor ability to concentrate on important tasks (school, parent instruction, etc.)
  • Hyperfocus during enjoyed activities (video games, playing with toys, etc.)
  • Appears “lazy” or “forgetful”

Many of the signs and symptoms of ADHD are also common among other childhood issues, such as depression, anxiety, and even trauma – but the treatment looks very different for each.  For example, a child who is depressed may seem irritable and have difficulty concentrating, and those symptoms will only be made worse if we give them stimulant medications.  This is a major issue, as diagnoses of ADHD are becoming more and more common. A recent study by the CDC estimated that more than 1 in 20 children in the United States have a diagnosis of ADHD (Danielson et al, 2018).


What causes ADHD?

Although the cause of ADHD has not (yet) been identified, we do know some of the risk factors.  For example, we know that low birth weight and genetic heritability, or if the parent has ADHD, have been found to be associated with ADHD symptoms among children (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2018).

The cause may be less clear, but we do know what drives many of the symptoms.  Many of the symptoms of ADHD are rooted in several key structures in the brain (Alexander & Farrelly, 2018).

ADHD symptoms have been found to affect three main areas of brain function: the attention network, the reward pathway, and overall executive functioning.  Each of these functions are tied into major areas of the brain.  Let me give you a few examples of how particular brain regions come into play.

Executive functioning.  Executive functioning is our ability to direct our thoughts and behaviors, plan ahead, and have control over ourselves.  Kids who have ADHD often struggle with executive functioning skills, such as staying organized and completing important tasks.  Some areas of the brain involved in executive functioning include:

  • Prefrontal cortex (decision making, emotional regulation, planning)
  • Anterior cingulate cortex (motivation, drive, integration of sensations)
  • Orbitofrontal cortex (inhibition, self-regulation, emotional interpretation)

Reward pathways. Reward is all about the experience of pleasure and desire to pursue those things again in the future. Children who struggle with hyperactivity often have under-stimulated reward pathways, and so they bounce, eat sugar, and make loud noises to keep the pathway stimulated.  This is also why stimulant medications tend to help many children with ADHD.  A few brain areas connected to the reward pathway include:

  • Prefrontal cortex (identifying and sending reward signal)
  • Nucleus accumbens (receive reward signal, activate VTA)
  • VTA, or ventral tegmental area (release of dopamine, pleasure sensation)
  • Hippocampus (remembering things that cause pleasure)

Attention network. The attention network is incredibly complex, and it incorporates parts of executive functioning and reward. Children who struggle with inattentiveness tend to seem “lazy” or will frequently forget important information and instruction.  Some areas of the brain along the attention network include:

  • Prefrontal cortex (becoming alert and orienting to task)
  • Visual and auditory cortices (receiving and understanding information)
  • Anterior cingulate cortex (motivation to act on incoming information)


How can I help my child manage their ADHD?

The best treatment for ADHD always begins with an accurate assessment and diagnosis.  Once you are confident that your child has ADHD, there are some ways you can help them manage their symptoms.  With the right training and care, the symptoms of ADHD can be managed.  Let me give you a few tips based on what we might do in therapy.

Tips for Inattention

  • Find ways to incorporate rewards into less-entertaining activities, such as schoolwork
  • Give frequent, short-term rewards for positive behaviors
  • Remove distracting objects and sounds from the room during homework or study time
  • Add variety to repetitive tasks (i.e. provide multicolored pens / pencils for notetaking)

Tips for Hyperactivity

  • Provide noiseless fidget toys to keep your child’s hands busy during quiet activities
  • Schedule times for your child to use some of their energy in a positive way (i.e. playing at a playground)
  • Avoid providing your child with any caffeine past noon (including soda!)

Tips for Disorganization

  • Use daily checklists in an easy-to-see location with rewards for completed items
  • Select one organizational task for them to focus on at a time, rather than multiple tasks (i.e. making the bed versus cleaning their room)
  • Schedule a consistent time to check in with one another about homework

Of course, there are many other ways you can help your child manage their ADHD.  Many parents feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to best support their child. You do not have to do this alone, the EXAMPLE PRIVATE PRACTICE is here for you!



If you or your child are interested in our therapy or assessment services, contact us today.  We would love to answer any questions you might have about the process.

Our office is located in TOWN, STATE.  We work with families from all over the region – EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, and beyond.  If you feel we would be a good fit for you or your child’s mental health needs, let’s connect!


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Alexander, L., & Farrelly, N. (2018). Attending to adult ADHD: a review of the neurobiology behind adult ADHD. Irish journal of psychological medicine35(3), 237-244.

Danielson, M. L., Bitsko, R. H., Ghandour, R. M., Holbrook, J. R., Kogan, M. D., & Blumberg, S. J. (2018). Prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis and associated treatment among US children and adolescents, 2016. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology47(2), 199-212.

National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. (2018). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults.British Psychological Society.


This is an example guest post published to help mental health professionals get started on writing for the web, and is not an advertisement of services.  As the host of the website, I do not provide any of the services listed in this article.