Health & Science

Kids With ADHD Might Fare Better If Their Parents Get Screened

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Imagine if your pediatrician assessed you for a mental health screening during your child’s annual well visit.

That’s what parents with pediatricians at participating clinics in Maryland, Washington, and Michigan will experience as part of a $7 million National Institutes of Mental Health study conducted via the University of Maryland. Researchers are looking at whether parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might also have the disorder.

It’s estimated that anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD have inherited the condition, but in many cases neither parent has ever been screened for the disorder, let alone treated for it. Experts are concerned that when left untreated, parental ADHD can interfere with effective parenting and lead to worse outcomes for children. The study aims to capture families who might otherwise be reluctant to seek mental health screenings. 

If both a parent and child screen positive, the study team will provide behavioral parenting intervention via cell phone, tablet, or computer. These will include suggestions for maintaining routines, order, and a calm home environment as well as how to praise good behavior — things that parents with ADHD often struggle with providing. “It can be difficult for a parent to create an organized and consistent environment for their child with ADHD if they themselves struggle with executive functioning difficulties such as time management, planning, and organization,” said psychology professor Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, principal investigator for the study, in a statement. Half of the parents, selected at random, also will receive medication for ADHD. 

The study hopes to become a model for pediatric mental health problems in general, not just ADHD. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or any other mental health disorder and you think you might benefit from a mental health screening yourself, ask your doctor. Taking your health seriously sets a great example for your child and may also help you be a more effective parent. 

The former Content Director at Parenting, and several other brands, Ana Connery is a writer and content strategist whose work appears in USA Today, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Cafe Mom/The Stir, Momtastic, and others.