Most children (about 58 percent) had seen two or more providers in the last 12 months. Given that each treatment provider might have strengths in different areas, visiting more than one might help some families achieve better results. And since children spend time in multiple environments—school, home, elsewhere—having people involved in those areas can increase the support network. "The best situation is when the parents, the teacher, and the physician are all on the same side—the same team—supporting the child who faces frustration and challenge with normal daily activities," says Marsha Rappley, M.D., a pediatric behavior specialist, dean of the Michigan State University School of Human Medicine, and a national expert on ADHD in children.
We asked parents to rate providers with this question: How much has this professional helped your child in the following areas: A lot, somewhat, a little, or not at all?
At school. It makes sense that school professionals (nonpsychologists) were more likely to help "a lot" with academic performance than other providers. When it came to behavior at school, they helped "a lot" 37 percent of the time. Some parents reported that pediatricians helped "a lot" (28 percent) with school behavior, while others thought pediatricians were "not at all" helpful (28 percent), underscoring the need for calling someone other than just a pediatrician for help at school.
Behavior at home. Clinical psychologists helped "a lot" with behavior at home 28 percent of the time, and pediatricians helped "a lot" 21 percent of the time. (School psychologists and other school professionals were not very likely to help with behavior at home.)
Social relationships. The highest scores for helping "a lot" with social relationships were nonmedical treatment providers, such as clinical psychologists, school professionals, and school psychologists.
Self-esteem. Clinical psychologists helped the most in the area of self-esteem (29 percent helped "a lot"). Learning-disability specialists with master's degrees were also among the more helpful providers in this area. Changes in self-esteem could also be related to improvements in other areas, like academic performance.
Medication management. While managing drugs seems like a straightforward task, it's actually a process that requires continuous attention to benefits, side effects, doses, and medication types. Pediatricians helped "a lot" with medication management 53 percent of the time. (Child psychiatrists and psychiatrists also helped a lot in this area.) Surprisingly, 13 percent of the parents whose children visited a physician said that he or she did not help at all. For more information, see Best ways to manage medications.