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Local Psychiatrist’s Take on Parents Seeking ADHD Assessments for Children During Remote Learning

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Going to school from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has given parents an inside look at how their kids learn.

Based on what they’re seeing, there’s a national trend happening in the age of remote learning — more parents are seeking ADHD assessments and even medication for their children.

Dr. Donner Dewdney is a psychiatrist at Child Psychiatry Associates in West Des Moines. While he has conducted more ADHD assessments, he has not prescribed more medication.

“I think there’s a tendency in our culture to look for a quick fix,” Dr. Dewdney said. “If our kids are acting hyper, they can’t concentrate, well maybe they’ve got ADHD. When in fact what they really need, whether they’ve got ADHD or not, is structure. And that’s what parents are not really good at right now.”

In order to create that structure, Dr. Dewdney said parents need to set rules and have a routine for their children. That could include waking up at the same time every day, having a designated work area, and limiting screen time when not “in school.”

Dr. Dewdney said what parents see at home can be deceiving to what actually happens in a school setting. The ADHD assessments he conducts are clinical interviews and evaluations that look at the child’s full history.

“The kid who has ADHD has problems with impulsivity, problems with concentration, and hyperactivity,” Dr. Dewdney explains, “and has had problems before the pandemic began before they were having problems in school in all likelihood.”

If you think your child is struggling in school, Dr. Dewdney advises reaching out to their teacher to see if they have any strategies that would be helpful. If the problem persists, the next step would be to reach out to a mental health professional.

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