Different Professionals Who Help Kids With ADHD

By The Understood Team
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If you know your child has ADHD, or you think he might have ADHD, there are many types of professionals who can help. Not all professionals have the same level of training and experience with ADHD, however. Some who diagnose ADHD may not include all the necessary steps for a proper evaluation.

The more you know about the people who help kids with ADHD, the better you’ll be at overseeing your child’s care. This chart is a good place to start learning about the doctors, therapists and teachers who might work with your child.

Type of professional Qualifications How they can help Where they may work
Pediatricians
  • Medical doctors (MD)
  • Private or group practices
  • Health centers
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
Developmental and behavioral pediatricians
  • Medical doctors (MD)
  • Pediatricians with additional training in behavioral, developmental and mental health issues
  • May have more education, training and experience with ADHD than regular pediatricians
  • Evaluate for ADHD symptoms and relevant medical problems
  • Prescribe medications for ADHD
  • Monitor response to medications
  • Work with clinical psychologists who may help with evaluations and monitoring of medication
  • Private or group practices
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
Nurse practitioners (NP)
  • Advanced-degree nurses (APRN or DNP)
  • Evaluate and diagnose ADHD
  • Prescribe and monitor medication for ADHD
  • Private physician or NP practices
  • Health centers
  • General health or mental health clinics
  • Schools
Child/adolescent psychiatrists
  • Medical doctors (MD)
  • Specialize in mental, emotional and behavioral disorders in kids and adolescents
  • Evaluate and diagnose ADHD and other mental health issues that may be involved
  • Determine if symptoms could involve a co-occurring condition, such as anxiety or depression
  • Prescribe and monitor medication for ADHD and other mental health problems involved
  • Provide psychotherapy for child and/or parents
  • Private or group practices
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health clinics
  • Schools
Pediatric neurologists
  • Medical doctors (MD)
  • Specialize in brain and nervous system disorders in kids and adolescents
  • Some are trained to treat neurodevelopmental issues like ADHD and learning differences
  • Evaluate and diagnose
  • Prescribe and monitor medication
  • Work with clinical psychologists, who may help with evaluations and monitoring of medication
  • Private or group practices
  • Hospitals
  • Medical centers
Pediatric neuropsychologists
  • Psychologists (PhD)
  • Have additional education and training in the relationship between brain development and learning or behavior issues in kids and adolescents
  • Trained to administer and interpret psychological and educational tests
  • Evaluate and diagnose both ADHD and learning differences
  • Administer a wide range of tests to reveal issues that impact learning and attention
  • Refer to clinical psychologists or cognitive behavior therapists for therapy (some provide therapy themselves)
  • Don’t prescribe medications
  • Private or group practices
  • Hospitals
  • Schools (not common)
Clinical child psychologists
  • Psychologists (PhD or PsyD)
  • Trained to treat kids with a range of mental health and behavioral issues
  • Can administer psychological and/or educational testing
  • Many have experience with or expertise in kids with ADHD
  • Evaluate and diagnose ADHD, learning differences and mental health issues
  • Meet with parent and child to discuss strengths and difficulties
  • Provide psychotherapy for issues like depression, stress, anxiety and managing emotions
  • Don’t prescribe medications for ADHD or mental health issues, but may work with medical professionals who do
  • Monitor medication responses
  • Private or group practices
  • Schools
  • Mental health clinics
  • Hospital clinics or medical center
Cognitive behavior therapists or behavior therapists

Mental health counselors. These might be:

  • Psychologists
  • Licensed social workers (MSW)
  • Mental health nurse practitioners
  • Provide individual or group therapy
  • Cognitive therapy: Work on issues like depression, stress, anxiety and managing emotions
  • Behavior therapy: Work on strategies to manage or change behavior
  • May provide social skills groups
  • Refer to specialists who can prescribe and monitor medication
  • Private or group practices
  • Mental health clinics
Clinical social workers
  • Social workers who work with kids, adults, couples, families, groups and schools
  • Have master’s degree (MSW); the most qualified are licensed independent clinical social workers (LICSW)
  • Diagnose ADHD and provide therapy
  • Don’t prescribe medication
  • May provide social skills groups
  • Private practice
  • Mental health clinics
  • Schools
School psychologists
  • Psychologists trained in psychology and education
  • Schools
Special education teachers
  • Teachers trained to work with kids who have ADHD and learning differences
  • Often have a master’s degree and certification in reading programs for kids who also have dyslexia
  • May be certified as a learning disability teaching consultant
  • Conduct educational evaluations
  • Attend IEP meetings
  • May help with behavior plans
  • Work with kids on academics, social skills and behavior management
  • May also provide outside tutoring and teach organizational skills
  • Schools
  • Private practice
Educational therapists
  • Tutors with an education background
  • Often are special education teachers with a master’s degree
  • Work on academic skills
  • May also teach organizational skills
  • Private practice
Organizational coaches
  • Consultants with no specific credentials or training
  • Teach organizational, time-management and study skills and strategies
  • Private practice

Getting outside help for your child with ADHD can be expensive. And not all private health practitioners take insurance. Some may base their fees on a sliding scale, however. It’s a good idea to ask about financial options when you’re looking for a specialist.

Meanwhile, there are many things you can do to help your child with ADHD. Talk to your child’s teacher about informal supports that might help in class. Look into getting an evaluation for either an IEP or a 504 plan that might provide formal accommodations.

About the Author

About the Author

The Understood Team 

is made up of passionate writers, editors, and community moderators. Many of them learn and think differently, or have kids who do.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Thomas E. Brown, PhD 

is a clinical psychologist and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

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