If you have not read my post, What to Consider When Choosing Your ADHD Doctor, please do so before proceeding. If you have read the post, and taken the first step to finding the right doctor for your situation, then you should have a short list of doctors names and are ready to move on to the next step, deciding on your doctor.
Criteria to Help Narrow Down Your Options
Doctor’s Presentation: Since ADHD is a lifelong condition, plan on choosing a doctor who will be around for a long time. If you are looking for a doctor for your five year old, it doesn’t make much sense to choose a doctor who is one year away from retirement. When looking for a doctor, consider who your child is. Is your child timid, shy, and easily intimidated? Consider who, on your short list, has the least imposing presence. A doctor may come highly recommended, but if your child is too intimidated to talk during appointments, it won’t matter. Do you have a hyper little boy? Who on your short list has a reputation for best handling your child’s activity? It takes real finesse, talent, flexibility, and an intimate understanding of ADHD, for a doctor to follow the child’s lead, by getting on the floor, to interact in a way in which the child is comfortable, and better able to communicate. Do you have a sulky, oppositional teen? Who on your short list has a style, and presentation, to which your teen might best relate? Is the doctor for you? Be sure to take your own preferences into consideration.
ADHD Friendly Office: Visit the offices of the doctors on your short list. Peek in at the waiting room. Are there many people waiting? Many doctor’s, and therapists, schedule back-to-back appointments. As a consistent practice, this does not work well for ADDers. If the majority of the practice population consists of other ADDers, chances are a greater number of patients will arrive late, often causing the doctor to be behind schedule. In a small office, with no play area for ADHD children, aand a long wait, the child is set up for a less than optimal appointment. Is the appointment for you? Do you tend to pace? Does the waiting room have enough space for you to walk around? Do you tend to be claustrophobic? Will you be able to wait in a small, crowded waiting room without becoming anxious, setting yourself up for a less than successful appointment? Always do what you can to set yourself, and your child, up for success.
The first therapist I took my daughter to, almost 25 years ago, was not right for us, although she seemed like a perfect match “on paper.” At the time, my daughter was seven years old, and her little, very hyper brother, was three. The office was upstairs, in the therapists house. The waiting room was on the first level, on the other side of the house, in a family room, with wood flooring. I supervised my son very closely, keeping him occupied, and engaged in play. However, there was no avoiding his occasionally dropping (read tossing!) a toy onto those uncovered wooden floors. Each time a toy fell, the therapist came charging down the stairs, to make sure my son didn’t break anything! My seven year old daughter knew this was crazy behavior on the therapist’s part. What really confused my daughter was that she didn’t know why the therapist kept leaving the room. My very sound-sensitive daughter convinced me the sound was barely audible in the office. Needless to say, we never went back.
Friendly Receptionist/Administrative Assistant: Pay attention to whomever schedules appointments and answers the phone. This is your doctor’s “right-hand man”. You want to be able communicate easily with her or him. This is the person you will call when you need an immediate appointment or a last minute prescription. This is the person to whom you will speak when you call to say you are going to be late, again, or to cancel your appointment, or to apologize because you forgot about your appointment. You want to be on this person’s good side. If the office isn’t crowded, when you visit the office to check it out, ask the receptionist if she has time to answer a few questions.
Questions to Ask:
- What is the waiting time for the first appointment?
- Is the doctor accepting new patients?
- Generally, how long do patients wait, in the waiting room, before seeing the doctor?
- Does the doctor accept co-pays, and submit the bill to insurance, or do you have to pay out of pocket and submit the bill yourself?
- What percentage of the doctor’s patient population is ADHD related?
- How often does the doctor see patients for prescription renewals?
- Who is the doctor that covers for weekends and vacations?
- Does the doctor provide an email address for you to send updates between appointments.
- What is the preferred method for patients to contact the doctor between appointments, and after hours?
- What is the cancellation policy? Will you have to pay for missed appointments?
After completing the above steps, you should have enough information to make an informed decision so choose your doctor!
Next: Preparing for Your First Visit to Your ADHD Doctor – Part II – Getting Ready for the Appointment.
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