Getting a Diagnosis for ADHD in Elementary School

Parent Q&A

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  • Most of the posts about ADHD here are pretty old, so I thought I'd see if folks had new advice, current suggestions about schools, after-school activities, etc. My son will be starting kindergarten in the fall at OUSD. He has an official diagnosis and is seeing a therapist (and takes parkour classes), and I've ordered some books, but any recommendations would be much appreciated. He's very active, smart, and generous and empathetic when he's in the right environment. Super social but can get bossy because he's excited and focused on what he wants to do. Thanks in advance!

    One thing you might look into is the notion of the 2E child: gifted (highly intelligent in any variety of expressions) with additional "issues": twice exceptional. Just knowing the term "2E" and poking around on the internet will give you a view-in that may broaden the view of this diagnosis. While there can be a lot of views of what causes ADHD, or what circumstances make that bloom in a nervous system, knowing how to manage and love-up the kid whose brain moves fast can help with steering your unique kid into his best unique groove. You might also look into the Summit Center in Walnut Creek for resources. They are experts in 2E. 

    There is also the notion of "overexcitabilities" -- a translation of a term I prefer to translate a bit more literally: super-stimulability. You can look that up too if you're interested, but the basic notion is that some bodies/nervous systems are more 'stimulable', and what results is a person who has a LOT more stimulation to manage -- and if they get help with that, it can make a huge difference. Good luck to you!

    I have a 9y.o. with similarities in his profile.

    Helpful resources: CHADD, Bright & Quirky, TiLT Parenting

    Feel free to direct message me to discuss further. We're in Berkeley with an IEP but I can share what I've learned about navigating public & private schooling.

    Hi Amy. We are going through a diagnosis with my 6-year old now, who just finished his first year of Kinder in AUSD. Your description of your son sounds exactly like my sweet, generous and active boy :). Unfortunately I don't have any advice to give because we are new to this too, but I came here to say that you are not alone. Thank you for your post, I will be following along. 

  • Dear Parents,

    I'd like to get my daughter in for an assessment sooner rather than later for what I believe to be inattentive type ADHD.  Insurance is the biggest obstacle here.  They have a list of providers but none appear to offer in-depth assessments.  I had mine at Kaiser long ago and it was so easy and fully covered.  I see some providers that look good here on BPN but unsure if I can find any that specifically take Anthem Blue Cross.  Probably a clinic associated with Childrens Hospital Oakland would work.  Also, I don't want to drive out to SF or Walnut Creek, been there done that, we just don't have the time in our schedule.  Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

    In searching for something similar for my kid, it appeared that no one in private practice doing these sorts of assessments takes insurance- at least I wasn’t able to find one. I was also told by my insurance (Anthem) that they didn’t cover testing if it was for educational purposes (like an IEP). These assessments are expensive but we decided it was worth it after we got the results and could share with the school. 

  • My 6 year old was just diagnosed with ADHD combined type and Adjustment disorder, mixed emotions & conduct.  We'd like to have her evaluated by a neuropsych to figure out how best to help her and to make sure that there aren't any other learning issues being hidden by her being "very bright" according to the teachers and evaluators.  

    I'd appreciate any recommendations for neuropsychs.

    Also, I've seen people recommend UCB for evaluations and I have a call into them for the summer evaluation session.  However, it says they only call you if they will schedule you, but there's no reference to when they will start calling.  If anyone knows how soon call backs could happen, that would be greatly appreciated.  I don't want to delay an evaluation with someone else while waiting for a UCB scheduling call that may not come.

    Highly recommend the Anne Martin Center in Emeryville. Less expensive than the private alternatives and they did an excellent evaluation for my daughter

  • We are looking for a neuropsyc eval for our child who is showing anxiety and ADHD symptoms. I have found a number of them and have spoken on the phone and via email. We have found a range of about $3000-$6000, most have a flat fee and have wait times from 3-6 months out. However, we really need to start now. The two we have found that could see us this Feb have both the Highest price so far and the potentially the lowest price. I have not been able to find reviews of either of these doctors online. I am hoping that someone has used them and can give a review.

    There is Debbie Bonardi and Megan McConnell. If we went just by the distance their office is from our house we would go with Bonardi, but that sort of seems like a low bar for trusting someone with testing that will hopefully help us with making a plan to help our child thrive.


    This isn't your question - but I want suggest getting into therapy now, and for the neuropsych evaluation I would wait and use someone you trust and who has a good reputation.  We did this, were able to book a therapy appointment for our kid quickly.  Later did the neuropsych evaluation.  The therapist can get to know your child over time and work with them about anxiety and issues.  Anyway, just our experience in dealing with this, it is not easy.  Good luck. 

    Agree with first poster. Start therapy ASAP. The eval can wait. My child also has anxiety + ADHD and even group therapy through Kaiser for a semester helped a lot with the anxiety management.

    Neither of those providers are neuropsychologists, they are clinical psychologists. There is a difference in training and experience. $6K seems high for a non-neuropsychologist. If you’re going to spend the money on an assessment I’d say get the best there is which is probably going to be with a neuropsychologist who will have more expertise, and ultimately may be able to help you more effectively, than a straight clinical or school psych. Unfortunately there aren’t too many neuropsychs and they tend to get booked out. Therapy could be a good interim support if you feel like you need immediate help. 

    We highly recommend Dr. Jessica Lipkind, Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, who did testing of our daughter who has dyslexia and anxiety issues. Dr. Lipkind is smart, compassionate, supportive, and great with dealing with the school once the testing results are in and accommodations are needed. The administrators at our school were highly impressed with her report, which helped our daughter navigate middle and high school. Our daughter is now a successful college student due to Jessica's help. She has an informative website.

    While it won't fit in to the time frame you're hoping for, you may want to consider getting your child assessed at the UC Berkeley Psychology Clinic.  The assessment is conducted by grad students under close supervision by a professor, and it's very thorough and also low-cost.  The only downside is the waiting period, likely until the summer.  The learning specialist at our daughter's school said the report from UC was by far the best she'd ever seen, in terms of clarity and completeness, and it has helped us a lot to understand what our child is experiencing.  The UC clinic has also helped us deal with our kid's school and has offered to continue to do so next year when she's in high school.  Finally, we really liked the people at UC.

    We just completed the ADHD evaluation process at Kaiser, from the time we self-referred to when we get the results in 2 weeks it will have just been 2.5 months.  Because our daughter had a concussion over a year ago we are working with a neuro psychiatrist.  The wait times you mention I imagine are just to get the first intake appointment and exclude time to gather evaluations from teachers, etc. and write up the report. Might be quicker to switch to Kaiser if you can and go through them versus waiting that long.

    Regarding the therapy versus eval, at the one parent group I attended, the facilitator when asked about the need for medication said that ADHD lives in the prefrontal cortex, so therapy alone won't fix that. The therapy can help with anxiety tools, but in our case with a daughter that most likely has the inattentiveness type, months of therapy have done little help with her emotional regulation issues, especially at night. When she has an emotional response out of proportion to the whatever set her off, it can go on for over an hour and the techniques we were taught in therapy before realizing she probably has ADHD do little to stop that sot of irrational looping/spiraling. 

    One thing I recommend is to get your child tested convergence insufficiency, a functional vision disorder that can't be detected via a standard vision exam. It's something we never considered because our child loves to read and has tested as above average in reading. Many of the symptoms are the same as ADHD. While kids can have both ADHD and CI, some kids can have just CI. We got an initial diagnosis after a 1.5 hour exam at UC Berkeley's School of Optometry. Here's a link to more info on the link with vision and ADHD:…

    I posted earlier but wanted to add that if your child's ADHD symptoms are causing difficulties at school, then it would be beneficial to get the evaluation so he/she can get a 504 Plan or an IEP so there are accommodations at school. Even just starting the evaluation process has helped my daughter. She was feeling like something was wrong with her and that she wasn't that smart as she was having to put in way more effort/time than everyone else and constantly being nagged to focus. Knowing that it is a function of her brain, not her intelligence has boosted her moral.  

    I'll put in a pitch for the Summit Center. They evaluated both are kids, while I can't promise affordability or speed, I will say they know a ton about anxiety and ADHD. They'll also make sure to focus on your child's strengths as well as what might be holding them back. In the meantime, you might take a look at Dan Peter's book (he runs Summit) on children and anxiety called "The Worry Monster."  The approaches in it were very helpful to us. Also we found address our daughter's learning differences really reduced her anxiety.

  • Hi, I need some recommendations for a neuropsychological evaluation for my 7 year old daughter.  We have already many assessments in the area of her academic learning.  I am now looking for a clinical diagnosis in the areas of ADD/ADHD, an autism screening and whatever else I am missing.  I have found a vast range in prices,  number of hours spent assessing the child, and wait time to get an appointment.  For example, I spoke with one specialist that charges 15k, has a year long waitlist and does about 60 hours of assessments/observations.  I also have found a specialist that charges 3k,  does only 8 hours of assessments and is available in 3 weeks.  Any suggestions out there for individuals to contact and how to choose the right person for a neuopsych eval??

    Thank you

    Hi Rhoda - you should contact Dr. Maya Guendelman, based in Elmwood/Berkeley. She is extremely smart, caring, and thorough. Her reports and recommendations are clear and helpful - so you feel like you understand the problems and exactly what needs to be done to address them, specifically who can help (e.g., therapists, specialists, etc). My understanding is her prices are between the extremes you mentioned, and her report (that I've seen) is very individualized. That quote for $15K/60 hours of testing seems crazy to me given what you're looking for.  In my experience there's a wide range in quality of people out there doing "neuropsych" evals. Your best bet is to choose an actual neuropsychologist with a PhD- rather than a psychologist, school psychologist, etc. who say they do neuropsych testing -- it's not the same. A neuropsychologist who only does neuropsych should be able to integrate the results from all of the assessments you've gotten and help you make sense of them, figure out the appropriate diagnoses, perform testing that connects all the pieces together, etc. Finally, you should talk to the person you're considering (most I know of will offer a free phone consultation) and make sure they seem like they understand your needs and goals for the assessment. Dr. Guendelman will do that - and I seriously cannot recommend her highly enough. Plus she's from Berkeley and her PhD is from Cal. I know she works with kids in your daughter's age range too. 

    My teenager had a neuropsych evaluation last summer and it was around $6000 and took probably 12-15 hours. This might be longer than usual -- he has severe focus issues and takes much longer than most kids to complete tests. The cost works out to several hundred dollars per hour which is in range for a PhD-level clinician with a very specific focus.  I imagine the cost goes up or down based on experience or reputation, just like every other profession. How we found our neuropsych is we got referrals from our son's developmental pediatrician who had made his original ADD diagnosis years before. We just picked a neuropsych based on convenience of location and it worked out fine.

    You might consider consulting with a developmental pediatrician instead of a neuropsychologist if you think your child's main issue is ADD. A developmental pediatrician will not usually administer the full battery of tests that a neuropsych does, so it's far fewer hours, which translates to lower costs. Developmental pediatricians focus more on brain chemistry issues like ADD as opposed to identifying specific learning disabilities through extensive testing. We really liked our developmental pediatrician Dr. Eraklis in Orinda and I highly recommend her. She diagnosed our son with ADD  when he was in 2nd grade and we've continued to consult with her now and then over the years and she has always been so helpful and informative. The diagnosis she gave us in 2nd grade was all our son needed to get accommodations in school all the way through high school (a 504 Plan). But in order to get accommodations for the SAT and ACT this past year, he needed a full-blown neuropsych evaluation taken within the past 3 years, so we shelled out the money for that. It was much more detailed than the original diagnosis, and it uncovered a learning difference we had noticed but didn't have a name for. But mainly it confirmed what we already knew from the diagnosis many years before from Dr. Eraklis.  He has severe inattentive ADD!

    Carina Grandison, Berkeley.  We had to wait about 2.5 months.  We're in the middle of our assessment and Dr. Grandison seems great, but you can read the other reviews of her to check.  Our son is a teenager and now we wish we had done this way sooner, so good for your daughter that you are taking this in hand at a young age.  Good luck.

  • Hi BPN community,

    Our 6 year old was tested by the school, and her Connors-3 comes back with similar scores as someone with ADHD primarily inattentive (ADHD runs in my family so not a huge surprise).  Our pediatrician is recommending a developmental pediatrician who charges $5000, and insurance (Blue Cross) won't indicate whether they'd will reimburse for this.  Can anyone recommend a pediatric psychiatrist in the Berkeley/Oakland/Walnut Creek areas that can diagnose and provide ongoing treatment?

    Many, many thanks!

    Have you tried eliminating sugar and wheat?

    no, I am not a nut. I have seen amazing changes. 

    Also, watch the Drs on Chanel 9 talking about similar issues. Physicians in our area call themselves Consilting Drs. Serious results. 

    Good luck. 

    Check out the organization called BACA, Bay Area Children’s Association. They have pediatric psychiatrists. If they accept your insurance it is worth making the trip to Oakland.

    otherwise there are a couple at children’s Bos. We really preferred BACA,  it then our insurance changed. Good luck.

    Your primary pediatrician won’t diagnose and treat ADHD?  I would recommend finding another primary pediatrician instead of hiring an expensive pediatric psychiatrist.  ADHD is fairly common, and physicians can write scripts for it.  If your kid has multiple issues, such as ADHD, autism, and/or early mental illness then I can understand the need for a specialist to diagnose and treat your child.  For just ADHD, I’m having a hard time understanding the need for such expensive diagnostics.  I have a kid with ADHD and several learning disabilities, and we are very happy with our pediatrician’s care.

    Dr. Brad Engwald (berkeley) is supposed to be great, although last time I checked (several months ago) his practice was full. Best of luck. 

    I haven't heard of getting an ADHD diagnosis from a pediatric psychiatrist.  Usually they are the ones who prescribe and adjust the meds as needed after you already have the diagnosis. Two of my three kids met with developmental pediatricians for an evaluation for ADD and it didn't cost $5000. That sounds more like a neuropsychologist evaluation - 5K is in the range of what that costs, which by the way is very detailed and thorough - we just did one for our high schooler who's had an ADD diagnosis since 3rd grade. He got his original diagnosis from a dev. pedi., and it has been all we've needed for accommodations throughout his school years.  But he needed a recent neuropsych evaluation to request accommodations for ACT/SAT. The neuropsych's report was very interesting, though not really that surprising, and I can't say we'd have done things differently had we gotten it in 3rd grade.  But ... if you are pretty sure your kid has ADHD, and you don't need to rule out other stuff like dyslexia or other learning disabilities, then you can get the diagnosis from a pediatrician. ADHD is a medical diagnosis (brain chemistry) not a psychological condition, so it's common for MDs to make the diagnosis. Some pediatricians know a lot about ADHD, others will want to refer you to a developmental pediatrician who sees a lot of kids with ADHD. Our pediatricians referred out. I'm not saying it's cheap to go to a dev. pedi, but our experience was ~5 hours including parent interviews at around $300/hour.  Our insurance did cover the dev. pedi. for the first kid, and we paid out of pocket for the 2nd kid because we wanted to go to a different dev. pedi. than our insurance would pay for.  We really liked Mariana Eraklis in Orinda.

    I highly recommend Dr Marianna Eraklis in Orinda for diagnosis and treatment.  She is worth the trip through the tunnel.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Dr. Caroline Johnson, Neuropsych

June 2013

My almost 10 year old son needs neuropsych testing and Dr. Johnson was recommended to us. The latest review of her is from March 2011 and I'm wondering if anyone has had any more recent experiences. We are trying to rule out ADD, ADHD etc as well as receive some educational testing as we suspect that some of his issues may stem from high intelligence. Which leads me to my other question which is - what exactly is a gifted child and how do you know if you have one? My son is anxious, depressed and extremely dissatisfied with his world and we have been struggling for over a year now with how to help him. All insights extremely welcome. Worried mama

Dear worried mama, Caroline Johnson is wonderful, kind and very knowledgeable. We met with her for a consultation and she explained the whole process in detail. She did our child's neuropsych assessment last summer and all of the information has been very helpful. We continue to call or meet with her for follow up questions and advice. Make an appointment with her and get on her waiting list now. You can decide if she is a good fit for your son. Good luck--it is a hard road, but she is wonderful and will really help you figure things out. another mom

Hi - I have two kids with learning issues and Dr. Johnson has evaluated both of them. She is very kind and great with kids, advocates for you with the school district if your child needs help, and should qualify for special services. She also knows her stuff. I have been told by my pediatrician and my son's developmental pediatrician that she is ''the best.'' She is also very honest. My son has disabilities but she told us when he was evaluated that he did not qualify for special ed services because at the time of the testing it was not interfering with his ability to learn. (My son has AD/HD). That wasn't what we wanted to hear, necessarily, but was her honest opinion. That was five or six years ago. She is testing my daughter now and advocating with the school for better services for her. My daughter is very bright, but has pretty severe dyslexia. Because Dr. Johnson is a straight shooter, the schools and judges (if you have to go to hearing to get what you need) also respect her opinion. The down side of having a great reputation is that she is extremely busy. It usually takes several months to get appointment times to have your child evaluated. With my daughter we got appointments about six months in advance. She was good about getting the intial report within three or four weeks. The first time we used her it took longer to get the report. She is in demand and extremely busy, attending meetings at schools, etc. in addition to doing the testing. Hope that helps. Mom with special kids

Dr. Johnson (Kie) has assessed my daughter twice - in third and eighth grades. She is wonderful in every way. She is extremely experienced and knowledgable. She is completely professional. She is GREAT with kids. She has great respect for the children and families with whom she works. I can't sing her praises highly enough. She can also become an advocate for your child, with schools, teachers, etc. - explaining how your child works and what s/he needs. My daughter's issues were different than your son's but I think you cannot go wrong with Dr. Johnson. We learned a great deal that helped us and our daughter.. Grateful Mom

I cannot say enough good things about Kie Johnson. She is a consummate Pediatric Neuropsychologist-- highly skilled, experienced and attuned to both parents and children. As a therapist, I have referred kids to her many times, always with very satisfying results. And as a mother, we asked her to evaluate our son many years ago for some learning issues in an otherwise extremely intelligent kid (he went on to get a PhD). As the wife of a neuropsychologist, I know my husband has enormous respect for both her work and her person. RE: your other questions, don't get ahead of yourself! Let Kie take a look at your son and she will help you with some direction. Good luck Heidi

We had a Pediatric Neuro-psych Evaluation done for our child who sounds quite similar to your son. We also had our child tested at the Gifted Development Center (GDC) in Denver, Colorador. Both sets of test results were very helpful though if there is a chance your child is highly or profoundly gifted, I would have him tested at the GDC before getting the Neuro-psych evaluation. It was finding out the level of giftedness in our child, and what that meant, from life-long professionals in the field, that really started the process of improvement in our child's life and in our family life. We also have considerable experience with the challenges stemming from raising a twice-gifted child... who is both highly gifted and has ADD/ depression/ anxiety issues. If it would be of value, I'm happy to share more with you about our experience with all these tests, with numerous schools, and with the therapy and medication options we've tried. (If you'd like to talk more, please ask the Moderator for my contact info.) By the way, I do not know Caroline Johnson but Cynthia Peterson, who, I believe, shares an office with Caroline, did our Pediatric Neuro-psych Evaluation and was excellent. Wishing you all the best!


ADHD Eval for 5-year-old - Medi-Cal?

Sept 2012

I am looking for a great child psychiatrist or developmental pediatrician who accepts Medi-Cal and can do a thorough assessment of my five-year-old. Any suggestions? Worried mom

Hi - Unlikely that you will find a good psychiatrist or behavioral pediatrician in private practice that accepts MediCal. However, the teaching staff at Children's Hospital in Oakland are excellent, as well as the teaching staff/residents at Langley Porter Institute at UCSF. Both are excellent institutions and I believe both take MediCal - likely there will be a wait to get an appointment. Doctor mom

Try the Hyperactivity, Attention, and Learning Problems (HALP) Clinic at UCSF. Ask for HALP specifically when you call: intake and referral service at 415-476-7500 or 800-723-7140 (toll free). Their comprehensive evaluation takes several visits, and there is often a waitlist, but they take medicare/medical. They also develop group treatments for ADHD families, and if the waitlist is long you may be seen faster if you want to be a part of one of these investigations. past UCSF fellow

ADD/ADHD Evaluation for 3rd grader

May 2011

Our son's teacher recommended that he get evaluated for ADD/ADHD before the start of 4th grade. (He's in 3rd grade, 8 years old, very bright, etc.) His 2nd grade teacher suggested the same but a therapist who worked with him recommended we wait until he is 9 or 10; and his physician said her referral tends to over-diagnose so we waited. He won't be 9 until after 4th grade starts so we need to get him evaluated this summer. I've seen recommendations for Berman, etc., and wasn't too impressed with anyone, and at this point, I am looking for a rundown on which *type* of professional should evaluate MD versus a Psych PhD versus a clinic versus ???. The UC Berkeley study isn't accepting anyone until next fall and I think that might be too late. (It's complicated by the fact that he has amblyopia and has been patching with and without atropine drops for the last two years.) Ideally, it would be someone who takes Anthem Blue Cross PPO and is in the Albany/Berkeley/Oakland area. Any ideas/experience with this? Thanks! Willing but not sure what course to take!

We used Dr. Lane Tanner at Oakland Children's Hospital. He is a behavioral pediatrician and he was great. Good luck! E.

We didn't have great luck finding pediatric services that were covered by our insurance plan. We have HealthNet, so maybe you'll have better luck on that front. We have found excellent, if expensive, private resources. I would start with Marianna Eraklis in Orinda,(925)254-4000. She's both a great doctor and an empathic human being. Ann

Behavior Evaluation for 6 year old (maybe ADHD)

Feb 2011

After years of debating we are coming to a conclusion that we need to have a behavior evaluation for our bright, smart, imaginative 6-year-old who exhibits a lot of ADHD- like signs. He has always been a high-energy kid, requiring what seems like an above-average level of maintenance, but we always saw him as being just less mature. He is in 1st grade now, and the whole school experience has been quite miserable for him, as well as for us. The universal feedback from teachers is that he is very smart (there are no issues with his academic progress), but he is either not able or not willing to follow instructions and basically he wears them out (it has gotten to a point where he's been asked to leave the classroom on several occasions and sit in the hallway or in the principal's office). This has been a very demoralizing experience for him, and we are witnessing our little guy turning from a confident, full-of- life, imaginative boy into an anxious child with diminishing self-esteem. So at this point we really feel that we need a help of an experienced professional and are looking for recommendations. Thank you! anon

I recommend you get a full neuropsychological evaluation with one of the qualified psychologists in our area. Anyone who does a comprehensive evaluation can tell you if it's a learning disorder, ADHD, other neuropsychological processing issues, and how this is affecting a child's feelings and thoughts about themselves. Check into working with Terry Doyle, Jessica Lipkind, or Caroline Johnson. They all have great reputations for doing in-depth assessments and working closely and supportively with families. been there

We contacted or saw various people for evaluation of our daughter about a year ago when she was in a similar boat and in 1st grade. I give thanks to G_d that someone gave us the name of Mariah Antoniadis PhD. She's a child psychologist and she's not only brilliant, but she cuts to the chase and actually gives you clear answers and instructions for what to do instead of vagueness and hand-waiving. She speaks to the whole child ( not just one slice) and will oversee care. She's also great working with teachers/school if you want her to do that. Her office has moved to Leimert St in Oakland ( from Elmwood).
PS: I know so well that sadness seeing one's open/optimistic child start to not enjoy school, so you have my support! JM

Ugh, I am so sorry to hear about your experience and I feel your pain, having experienced exactly the same thing. First of all hang in there, it'll get better. You are doing the right thing with having him evaluated. It was an eye opening & empowering experience for us, albeit emotional. The hardest part was waiting not only for the evaluation itself, but also for the results. In the meantime, be supportive of your son.

* Dr Renee Wachtel - I really liked her, but for insurance reasons, we went with her associate:
* Dr. Lori Wensley, Clinical Psychologist (510) 276-6121. Dr Wensley is wonderful & really helped us to understand our boy. After our evaluation she referred us to:
* MarRem Remington, LFMC (510) 835-4357. MarRem is great! She treats the whole family, not just the child.

In the end we ended up with a diagnosis of Sensory Integration/Processing Disorder & Anxiety. Check out the Sensory Integration website ( & go through the check list.

Also read, WHY GENDER MATTERS by Dr Leonard Sax and Mel Levine's books ( In combination with the diagnosis they have really helped us champion our son. Right there with you.... 

Finding a specialist to evaluate a child

Nov 2002

I'd like advice from parents who have had their child worked up for ADD by a practitioner who specializes in ADD diagnosis and treatment. Has anyone had a good experience? Also does anyone have any recommendations regarding Children's Hospital ADD clinic, The Amen clinic or Dr. Josephine Lindt? I've checked the archives and need more specific information. Also,ADD runs in our family and I think I may be affected. Any experience with specialists for adults? I checked with CHADD and they weren't very helpful. Thanks! ADD mom and child

ADD evaluation: Dr. Brad Berman in Walnut Creek. Excellent, expensive, takes a while to get in his office. mom with son with ADHD

My advice (of course based on past experience) is NOT to go directly to the pediatrician (or in Berman's case, developmental pediatrician). Educational testers like the Ann Martin Center and A Learning Place, both in Oakland, cast a wide net and look for much broader possibilities than just ADD. After my son's teacher told us to get him tested for ADD we almost went the medical route. The broader testing really suggested to us that his issues were much more subtle, and the tutoring he's gotten since has been invaluable. ADD DAD

My son's teacher recommended testing for ADD

Feb 2000

I just had a conversation with my son's teacher which has led me to seek testing for ADD for him. My insurance (Health Net with Insight as their mental health providers) has given me four names of Drs. he can go to and have told me there are additional names and I should start with those. I've looked on the parent's site and one of the Dr.s that comes highly recommended, Dr. Brad Berman, is not one of their providers. Can anyone give me an opinion on any of the following doctors - past experiences, hearsay, whatever and/or recommend other Drs that are providers for Health Net and Inshight? Specifically my son presents symptoms more often associated with girls - such as distractability and innatentiveness among other things. He does not present hyperactivity in it's more traditional forms. Also, can anyone recommend what questions I should ask and what tests should be done? Thanks. Dr. Nemirow Dr. Feingold Dr. Fallenbum Dr. Siegel

I have not heard of the doctors you have listed (and I work in the field). Brad Berman is very good. I have heard that Dr. Landman may be too quick to give the diagnosis. Dr. Diller in W.C. wrote a very interesting book called Running with Ritalin. He is more cautious about medication, even though he speaks of the value for some children. Ann Parker is very good (if she still takes new patients). It's important that any evaluation be done by gathering information from teachers and parents. Also doing a complete history with the parents is essential. It is often difficult to differentiate ADHD (inattentive type) from Learning Disabilities. The school can do testing to help with that.(Put your request in writing). There are no tests that are done to make the diagnosis of ADHD, so it takes someone with experience who knows how to talk with parents (and listen), and who will do some simple educational screening tests with a child.Many people will use a CBCL form for the adults to fill out to gather information. They are various types of reporting forms. I have seen many children have a great deal of success on medication,(including inattentive type) often after they have tried other things. When the diagnosis is made with attention and care, and the situation is evaluated, medication can mean the difference between functioning well or failing and feeling dumb, different, or not liked. I was resistant to medications until recently, and it has made a big difference in my ability to start a task and actually finish it. It's like getting glasses and being able to focus in a new way. I suggest you do as much reading as you can (go on-line an type in ADHD), and talk with other parents. Children with ADHD need to be understood, coached, and guided. Kaiser Richmond does free classes for parents, and I hear that they are open to anyone.

Want to have 5-year-old evaluated for ADD

Jan 1997

We are looking into having our son evaluated---for possible ADHD, and any other learning disabilities or whatever. Is there anyone out there who has traveled this path and can help me find the right resources? Our son will be 5 next week, and will start Kindergarten in Berkeley in the fall.

We saw Dr. Brad Berman (a developmental/behavioral pediatrician) last year, and we are scheduled to see him again in February. But I am interested in learning more about what's out there, and what sorts of testing we ought to be doing. We will probably need a psychologist, too. Can anyone help?

For people concerned about learning disorders, hopefully they have had their child's vision checked out. Our binocular vision clinic at UC deals with lots and lots of children who have trouble learning because they are not able to see correctly.

Barbara, School of Optometry

I too have been through the ADHD testing and diagnosis. I'll tell my story as an example of a child who needed something else.

My son, Matt, was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed Ritalin in the 3rd grade. His behavior had become so impulsive and dangerous that my husband and I were scared of what he might do next. I was advised to have him tested for learning disabilities because of his reluctance to read and do homework even with our help. So the first thing I did was request testing from the School District Psychologist. Matt was put on a waiting list and tested four months later. The psychologist defined the problem as a short-term auditory memory disability combined with an anxious personality. Matt qualified for the Resource Specialist Program and Title I funding which requires the district to provide him with an individualized educ program geared toward his needs. Since January of 1996 he has been going to a special quiet classroom every afternoon with a group of five other children to practice reading, spelling and writing.

I am so happy and proud to say that he has improved incredibly this year. Not only academically but emotionally and socially as well. He is on the honor roll. He can read and chooses to do it. He does his homework. He cries less than he used to. He is managing his insomnia. He stopped fighting. He has made friends and has a stronger sense of self than ever before.

I think the key is finding what is at the root of the individual's problem. If you find the cause it may be possible to change the behavior that is a result of the problem. Resources I used in my quest for answers were: the web ADD site, the library (books on ADHD, learning disabilities, personality traits, child development, stress, discipline, etc.), other people who have experienced similar problems with their children or themselves, tutoring, family counseling, support groups, the UCB vision clinic, you name it. It took time, energy and patience to figure it out but it was worth it.

I joined a local chapter of CHAD when my son first diagnosed with ADD. My husband and I attended several CHAD meetings, seminars and the like and found them very informative and helpful.

Please note however that there was a huge 20/20 type TV show that addressed the fact that CHAD is primarily funded by the pharmaceutical company that makes Ritalin. Ouch !! Many local chapters including ours pulled out from National Headquarters because of it.

I tend think that any active kid has a good chance of being labeled ADD/ADHD, even with the consensus of both a pediatrician and psychologist, as was the case with our son. (Of course we all know of extreme situations, that are truly valid and must be horrible). We were warned that when the harmones start to kick in, esp. with boys and a bit of maturity develops, the activitity level lessens considerably; as is the case with our son.

Good luck to the Digest Member