Focusing on school work in normal times can be hard for many students, add loss of structure and predictability during the pandemic and paying attention can become a real problem. “We are more likely to see increased difficulties with concentration. We’re likely to see more overactivity or restlessness, as children are sitting in front of screens throughout the day,” says Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Kristen Hembree with Savannah Behavioral Pediatrics.
According to Dr. Hembree, in most cases ADHD symptoms are exacerbated by virtual learning during the COVID crisis, but the signs may have gone unnoticed before. “You’ve either observed it in the home setting, like thinking about homework conditions or just general functions with task completion, or if previous teachers have reported concerns about inattention of hyperactivity/impulsivity in the past.”
Hembree says to get a proper diagnosis parents should take their child to a licensed child psychologist for a comprehensive evaluation. She says children actually come into the office and complete standardized testing. Also, the child psychologist can provide clinical observation to look for symptoms. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, Hembree says there are three evidence based treatments: medication, behavioral therapy, or both. “Really working with parents and children to increase environmental structure, build in breaks, increase motivation and find ways to assist families and children with self regulation.”
Dr. Hembree also says a licensed child psychologist is better equipped to figure out if your child’s symptoms are from ADHD or something else like anxiety or a learning disability.